Growing up, putting the shopping cart away was just the last part of the grocery shopping journey. I'd help my mom load in the car, and as she organized the last remaining items, I would return the cart for her. Most of the time, I would push it real fast and then hop onto the back to glide through the parking lot. And of course, at that time, all the shopping carts needed a quarter to unchain itself, so you always wanted to get the quarter back.

At this point, it is just second nature to put the cart back. Besides, I've seen too many times a random carts left out in the parking lot hitting either my car or someone else's car. That, and they will block perfectly good parking spaces. So I'll always bring my cart somewhere, whether it is the cart return or back inside. Sometimes I'll even grab a couple more carts I see on the way, if its feasible.

The Shopping Cart Theory

The Shopping Cart Theory has gone around for a while, claiming to be a major indication of one's morality. Since there is nothing to very little to gain from returning a shopping cart, people say its one clear way to check one's sense of duty and good.

According to a New York Times article,

...(T)he so-called Shopping Cart Theory has become an article of faith on Reddit and other social media sites. The theory posits that the decision to return a cart is the ultimate test of moral character and a person’s capacity to be self-governing.

It is a theory fully embraced by the video vigilantes known as The Cart Narcs, self-appointed enforcers who confront shoppers trying to leave without returning their carts. The series has about 500,000 followers on Facebook and YouTube.

I won't go out of my way to bash anyone for not returning a cart, I'll simply take care of mine and go on my way. Some people; however, take the case of shopping carts very seriously.

Does The Hudson Valley Return Shopping Carts?

I posed the question on social media and things got heated! Based on responses we received on social media and people texting through the app, 92% of folks in the Hudson Valley say they return their shopping carts. That left 8% of people who were honest about not returning carts.

For those who said no, they did leave some of their reasoning:

"No there’s a job for that"
"No, they have employees for that."
An argument can be made for the fact that there are attendants who go out into the parking lot to pick up the shopping carts. The same argument can be said about tidying up your table at a restaurant versus leaving a mess for the waiters/bussers. Yes, there is someone who has to pick up after the costumer, but there should also be a level of courtesy for those serving you. When it comes to the shopping cart attendants, their job is to technically retrieve the carts from the cart corral, not go on a scavenger hunt across the parking lot.
Others didn't leave much of an explanation. That, or you have this guy who pulls a sort of "Tom Sawyer" move on someone,
"Nah i usually find some sap with a pick up and put it in the bed"
I liked this one person's comment about not returning their cart. There have been times where I wanted to do exactly this, especially when I was in college without a car. Whether this person actually does it or not, I don't know, but I think we've all thought it at one point or another.
"I like to take it with me, makes it easier to get the groceries in the house."
As for the people who said yes to putting their carts away, some strong words were certainly shared. One person shared my sentiment about the damage that they cause to cars,
"Yes. Don’t be a piece of shit.Runaway carts in parking lots do serious damage to cars."
One comment took it a step further,
"Always and I grab others that are in the parking lot that people left so they don't hit other people's car"
Some people who commented definitely took stabs at people who don't return carts.
"Yes, I’m not a complete loser"
"Yes, because I am not a sociopath."
"Yeah I’m not a neanderthal"
"Yes, because I'm not a psychopath."
"It's literally the most simple thing to do. I've noticed only mature people put them where they belong. If you don't put it where it belongs, you have the mindset of a child."
I find it interesting that people call The Shopping Cart Theory a test of morality and goodness; however, there are people on both sides of the argument not necessarily being the kindest to each other. I think the discourse might show that simply returning a cart does not automatically make you a better person.
Overall, don't base your impression on a person purely based on an internet theory, and try to be kind where you can.

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