Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Social Police Officer

The holidays are a terrific time of year. I have to say, I love the music and decorations. It's the one time of year when people smile to one another, trying to be nicer and more considerate of others.

Yeah, right. Consideration goes out the window in general. I'm sure it's no different now than in the past. People being inconsiderate to one another drives me crazy. It's added to my long list of peeves.

One place where I see inconsideration gone wild is at Costco. Have I written about that before? I'll do so again. The most consistent offense is customers leaving their shopping carts randomly throughout the parking lot. I have seen, more than once, a customer unload their cart then leave their cart behind the car next to theirs. Others leave carts between vehicles, while others will park theirs on the nearest curb.

I have begun to call people out on this offense and commend people who actually return their cart to the cart return.

The last time was two days ago. An elder lady, probably in her sixties, arrived at her car next to mine and unloaded. She then pushed her cart behind the car next to hers and went to get in her car. As politely as I could, I said, “You know, there's a cart return right there,” pointing to the return about fifteen yards away. She ignored me. That made me mad and I repeated. She said, “You know, if someone has a handicap...” and didn't finish her sentence but continued getting in her car and closed the door. I laid into her verbally, but never used profanity. It was more along the lines of the example she was setting, and that she was a generally rude person.

When she said that thing about the handicap, I felt bad for a half-second. Then I realized a couple of things. She did not have a handicap sticker. But that may not mean she didn't have some kind of ailment. Then again, we had some of the furthest spaces from the entrance. She had been able to walk in, do her shopping, bring her cart to her car, but not walk the extra few feet to return the cart. Maybe her feet hurt or something. She could have easily said, “Excuse me, would you mind taking my cart back with yours?” I would have been happy to help.

Instead, she chose to impose on another person, leaving her cart in an area that could possibly impede oncoming traffic. Not to mention, the disappointment the person returning to his or her car would feel finding a random cart.

Please, please, please. When you are in public, be considerate of other people. If someone needs to change lanes or merge, let them. If someone is trying to back out of a parking space, stop and let them go. Return your shopping cart. If someone drops something, try to help pick it up. Don't litter. If you see litter, put it in the trash. If we all did a couple of these little things, everyone would be happier and fewer things would need to be done.

With all of this harping and ranting, I should remember that I did not offer to help the elderly woman by asking her if I could return her cart with mine. It does not excuse her action, but where she made a mistake, taking initiative to be considerate could have saved unneeded stress, but would have brought good feelings for both of us. Remember, it takes two. But it did make for a good entry.

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