Whenever I go shopping, I always walk my shopping cart back to the receptacle where they’re kept when I’m done putting my stuff in the car. After all, there are usually several corrals in every parking lot, so it’s not like it’s a far walk, and it’s just the decent thing to do. However, not everyone agrees with me. Plenty of people just leave their carts floating aimlessly around the parking lot or even in the space next to their car (the most annoying thing ever). Why is that? Well, science has a bit of insight.
People who don’t return their carts have plenty of excuses. According to Scientific American, there are some pretty common reasons (read: excuses) many people have for not taking carts back to their rightful place. Many believe the receptacle is too far from their car, while others say they don’t want to leave their kids unattended. Some people refuse to return the cart if it’s raining out, while many believe it’s someone else’s job. A few claim that leaving the cart will make it easier for another customer to grab and use, while there are those with physical disabilities that make returning carts more challenging (the only legitimate reason here).
Researchers also discovered that there are five types of grocery cart users. There are the Returners who bring carts back every time, no matter what. Then you have the Never Returners who refuse to return them ever. Convenience Returners will bring them back if it’s easy enough, while Pressure Returners will do so if they have no other option. Finally, there are the Child-Driven returns who let their kids use returning carts as a game or ride.
So why do some people return and others refuse? Pretty much all of it comes down to personal perception. Basically, we look at healthy people and think they’re lazy and rude if they don’t return their carts. In other words, we think we can judge a person’s character by this simple behavior. Therefore, someone who always returns their cart might do so because they think not doing it makes them rude and lazy and they don’t want to be seen that way.
No, you’re not saving jobs by doing this. There are people who believe that they’re justified in leaving their carts all over a giant parking lot because there’s someone hired by the shop to go around collecting them. The idea that the person is going to be fired if you put your cart back is ridiculous and I feel like people who use this excuse know it. This isn’t saving someone a job – collecting carts isn’t a full-time position, it’s just an inconvenient and annoying additional task.
So what’s the bottom line? In general, whether or not you return your cart tends to come down to two things: whether or not you think or care about anyone else’s needs more than your own and whether or not you care about how people perceive and judge you. If you don’t, you’re more likely to leave your cart wherever you’d like. Unless you have a legitimate reason not to, put in the extra minute or two it takes to return it. It really is the decent thing to do.