Mom Takes Photo of Husband in Wheelchair, Shows What Happens When People Don't Return Carts

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Every day we go about our tasks, cutting corners where it makes sense to in order to keep things streamlined. We choose the fastest driving routes to our destinations, we hoard up crock pot recipes and we like things that make life easier.

This rule even applies to things as basic as shopping carts. If you’ve ever shopped and used the assistance of a cart, you’ve experienced that momentary indecision once you’ve loaded up your car and slammed the trunk closed.

Where to put the cart? Of course, we all know the right answer.

But sometimes the cart corral, or catcher, or stall, or whatever you call it, is far away. Sometimes it’s all the way down the row of cars and even though we just walked 30 times that distance as we browsed our way through the store, that little cart-returning jaunt across the blacktop suddenly seems so wearisome.

That’s why you see carts hopped up on curbs or hiding malevolently in seemingly empty parking spots. They drift, they clutter up the parking lot and they look bad sprinkled all over the place — but for many folks, this problem is more than an eyesore.

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For people who need clear pathways and ramps, this is not only terribly inconsiderate, it’s also a major inconvenience. Sarah Coffey Pruett posted a photo of one such scenario to Facebook to clearly illustrate why people should do the right thing.

“Multiple reasons why you should put your cart back. #stopbeinglazy,” Pruett wrote. In the photo, you can see a baby in a stroller and a man using a wheelchair as they face a jumble of carts completely blocking the sidewalk across the parking lot — a sidewalk the family was trying to use to get safely and efficiently from one store to another on the opposite side.

In a blog post, Pruett revealed that this kind of occurrence isn’t uncommon for her family.

“My husband has been injured for 20 years due to a spinal cord injury and we’ve been married for almost 10 years. We encounter accessibility issues daily and run a nonprofit dedicated to designing universally accessible homes, so not much surprises us.”

The mother added that she posted the photo to bring awareness to what her family faces every day.

“We weren’t angry, we just took a picture and I posted it to Facebook to bring awareness to an example of barriers we encounter on a daily basis. We weren’t in it for attention. Is it laziness to not put a cart back? Maybe. I do not know everyone’s personal situations for doing so, but you can check the comments on the post to see what people say about that.”

Lots of people piped up to voice their support and renewed cart-corralling vigilance, but there were quite a few “buts” posited by others. One person illustrated, using the original photo and an arrow, where a loading/unloading area was in front of a store that they could have used.

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“There are actually stores at both ends of this complex and we parked in an accessible spot at our first stop,” Pruett explained in response to the suggestion. “We had several places to shop and we were crossing this sidewalk to reach the other side and got stuck when we ran into the carts.”

Some protested that having babies made returning carts difficult because they didn’t want to leave a child unattended in a car — a fair point. But these seem to be the exception to the rule, and the majority of the cases look like sheer carelessness.

“Let’s just call it what it is everyone,” wrote one commenter, Christy Hender Allred. “Laziness and zero thought about those coming after us. Yeah yeah, a lot of you think you have a legit reason for being rude and inconsiderate but I call your bluff.”

“I’ve worked as a cart runner for a VERY busy grocery store and I’ve seen you all. I’ve watched you as you and your completely abled, no children spouse, leave your trash in your cart thinking ‘it’s someone’s job to clean up after me. It’s job security’ like you’re doing me a favor or something. As if there weren’t one hundred garbage cans you passed on the way to your car. Do you do that with your kids? Yes… Some of you do. What are you teaching your children? To be lazy, thoughtless, entitled jerks. Freaking clean up after yourselves! It’s basic common courtesy.”

“I’ve seen sweet old ladies do better,” she added. “If an elderly person can return their cart, you can too. No excuse.”

“Barriers like this are everywhere and until you experience yourself or take the time to understand someone else’s perspective, you just won’t get it,” Pruett wrote in her blog post. “Spend a day with someone in a wheelchair (or another mobility device) in a home, school, and the community and I can guarantee your eyes will be opened to how things are often not designed well.”

For one person, an individual, putting away a cart might not seem like a big deal, but that mentality is exactly what leads to cart-strewn walkways. If we thought more about how our actions might affect others, this might not happen as often.

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking