Thack You: Cart Courtesy – Good vs. Evil

Larry Thack is completely disgusted by family pictures crowded on top of a piano

There is a behavior and an etiquette I’ve witnessed with regard to grocery store shopping carts. There is good and there is evil.
Separated only by a few dozen hectares in town you have Publix and Aldi. Publix is owned by its founders and its employees – how refreshing! Aldi was founded in pre-WWII Germany – and you know what that means.
Publix is spacious, overpriced, and considered tops among the chains. Their shopping carts are conveniently waiting by the entrance and rarely have malfunctioning wheels. It’s always senior day at Publix and there’s generally a feeble bone-sack struggling to release the cart. Lately I’ve witnessed worse. Twice now I’ve been hissed at by some Lardy wiping off the handle with a disinfectant cloth. Ma’am – it’s too late. These bleach cloths that are provided by Publix have created a mistrust and paranoia. I can see in the eyes of the patrons as they wipe off the fictional germs their desire to wipe at me! With their cart handles clean, they now steer off in the inverse direction of the well-designed retail flow to fill their neutralized carts with internal poisons. Later in the parking lot these carts will be cleverly propped throughout the lot waiting to roll into the side of a shiny new car.
Aldi is small, cheap, has virtually no name brands, and a limited selection. Their shopping carts are also conveniently by the door but you must insert a quarter to release it. You are essentially renting it for a moment. As soon as you exit your car in the lot, you can hear the chorus of “after you” as patrons politely rent their carts. The carts glisten under a rainbow as you approach. These are sophisticated, quick, agile, German-made, and never malfunction. When a handicapped or elderly patron is tasked with returning the cart, always will someone come to his aid. Running through the wind and the rain with arm outstretched, a quarter between his fingers. The exchange of quarters is always affably declined. Inside the store you see patrons with carts and those without – their scant collection spilling from their arms as they wind around the shop. The lucky cart-shoppers will allow these friends to jump the line without exception. Manners like this are the norm.
The quarter at Aldi is a symbol. It’s never been about renting and getting your quarter back. It has taught us responsibility and sharing, and rewarded us with a sense of altruism. Fitting that they chose a quarter with our finest hero, George Washington, and not the worthless penny, donned by that tyrannical despot.

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