Thursday, September 13, 2018

Dead Plants and Stray Shopping Carts

This alley is near our flat. I pass it every time I go to the shops on the high street, and I always check on the mournful condition of those poor plants, which have been sitting outside that back door for months. (The dracaena has been there since early this year; the palm is a more recent addition.)

I considered trying to save them, but they're not really "trash" since they're not in a refuse area, and as a rule I don't steal even dying plants from outside people's doors. I do have some scruples.

Speaking of rescuing things, last night I was walking home from work and I passed a shopping cart sitting on the sidewalk. People who know me know this is one of my pet peeves. I just don't understand why anyone would wheel away a shopping cart and then abandon it willy-nilly. As I've written before, this obsession comes from my years as an employee at Scotty's hardware, in the mid-'80s, when I periodically was sent out to round up carts that had sometimes made their way deep into the surrounding neighborhood.

It's nagged at me ever since. From my journal in May 1999, when I lived in Sarasota, Fla.:

I forgot to mention the shopping cart fiasco. The last couple of weeks I've noticed several shopping carts congregating around the apartment complex. I can't imagine who would be declassé enough to bring home a shopping cart, but there you are. So on Sunday I took three Walgreen's carts back to the shopping center -- they'd been sitting out in the median on Treeline Drive. Then, yesterday, I saw several behind a dumpster. So last night I took those back, too -- 2 Publix and 2 Walgreen's...I felt kind of silly wrestling my way along Beneva Road with four shopping carts, but hey...I really think doing one good deed per day (at least!) is a good way to maintain my karma!

Twelve years ago, while blogging about another stray cart in New York, I mentioned an entertaining Web site called The Stray Shopping Cart Project. I'm glad to see the site is still up, though some of the images don't seem to work. The project classifies the many varieties of stray shopping carts based on where they're found and the likelihood that they'll be returned. The one I saw last night seemed to qualify as a simple B/1 "Open True."

In this case, I decided to return it to the store. It was a moderate distance and on the other side of a train line, which meant I'd have to drag the cart up and over a pedestrian bridge, but I had to go that way anyway and figured I could manage. So I set out, clattering down the sidewalk.

I got the cart up onto the bridge with no problem, and fortunately once I'd crossed a guy walking behind me offered to help lift it down. "I've helped a lot of people with baby push-chairs but never a shopping trolley," he said.

I told him I'd found it -- I didn't want him to think I'd taken it from the store myself. "Now you can cross that off your list!" I said.

Anyway, back at the store I pushed the cart into a line of carts in the parking lot. Usually there's a little key you insert into the plastic handle to get back a £1 coin you have to insert to use the cart in the first place. But in this case, the plastic coin holder was broken, so I didn't even get a pound back!


Yorkshire Pudding said...

Some people save whales. Some people save rhinos, tigers or rare butterflies but you save dead plants and shopping trolleys! Whatever turns you on mister!
P.S. Please don't call me Willy Nilly!

Anonymous said...

It's a credit to your character to return carts! We notice the same problem here occasionally, in our small city, recently a small shopping cart was a bonded on our side street, never ever havevwe seen this before, someone had pushed it 6 blocks from the pharmacy! It was a brand new cart, so sad, my husband put on the back of our SUV and returned it. He just slid it in the cart lineup and left, I'm sure a few heads turned lol you and my husband both did a good deed , good for you, I thought it was stealing to remove a cart from the store site, I'm sure it is ,

Ms. Moon said...

You are a far better person than I am, Steve.

Red said...

Some people just don't have it when it comes to taking shopping carts. Here it's the homeless who take the carts and leave then where ever they are finished with them.

Colette said...

You are an interesting person, Steve.

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen an abandoned shopping cart in a long time. Makes me wonder where they all are. You are so good and thoughtful for your efforts, Steve. If I ever see a cart again, now I'm going to have to return. The seed has been planted.

Sharon said...

You are such a good person! There is a Safeway store just a block away from where I live and I see their carts up at my complex quite often but, it only seems to happen in the winter months. It's either too hot to wheel a cart home in the summer here or the person doing it is one of our winter residents. I don't know which it is.

Tara said...

Long before I had a car, I did my grocery schlepping on foot. Luckily, I live just a block away from the store. I'd sit the cart outside my home, unload, and walk the cart back. I suppose some people are just too lazy to return it, or the weather is too foul, or it was such a tremendous physical effort to get it home they just said, "screw it." Or, people are just jerks.

It's a pet peeve of mine as well. I even get twisted when I find carts abandoned in the middle of the parking lot.

Catalyst said...

You probably didn't want to gain a pound anyway.

37paddington said...

That back alley is so clean and pristine but for those dead plants. This is such a London view—not the dead plants, the alley and the doors.

jenny_o said...

LOL at Catalyst's comment!

For a different point of view, I can say I have sometimes seen people who walk to the grocery store near us and who have health problems (walk with a cane, or have a very stiff gait) using the carts to take their groceries home and also using them to steady themselves. I can imagine that it may be beyond them to push the cart back to the store, at least on the same day. That doesn't account for the ones found in questionable places, though, I suppose. Our son was responsible for cart collection when he worked at a department store for awhile. Some of them walked a considerable distance :)

Steve Reed said...

YP: Well, I'd save the rhinos too if it were in my power. But alas it is not!

Laurie: Good for your husband! I suppose it technically is stealing, but it's probably one of those things that would never actually be prosecuted.

Ms Moon: I'm honestly not trying to be "better" or tooting my own horn, here. If anything I think I have a mental illness. It really is a bit controlling and OCD.

Red: I've seen the homeless with carts in the states, but interestingly I haven't noticed it here. There are homeless people, certainly, but I haven't seen them wheeling carts. I wonder why?

Colette: Well THAT sounds like a euphemism! Ha! :)

Robin: Well, it would be great if this post inspires others to do the same thing! But as I told Ms Moon, I'm not trying to display my own goodness here. :)

Sharon: I'd put my money on a snowbird!

Tara: Yeah, if someone takes the cart and brings it back, that's no problem at all. It's the abandonment that makes me crazy!

Catalyst: Ha! I probably lost a few hoisting it over that railway bridge.

37P: It's much cleaner-looking than it used to be. They repaved it with those pavers and that improved the appearance quite a bit.

Jenny-O: I see your point, but people in those circumstances need a better solution. I know it's difficult to arrange transport when your mobility is impaired (as fellow blogger E often demonstrates) but people need to get back and forth with their purchases without making off with the store's very expensive property and creating eyesores for all their neighbors. Maybe they need to use grocery delivery, or get help shopping from a neighbor or local charity or church. Surely there must be a way to manage it.

jenny_o said...

For sure, those are better solutions. And kudos to you for returning carts!

ellen abbott said...

over here it only takes a quarter to release a shopping cart.