There are two kinds of people in this world: those who put their grocery buggies back into the little parking-lot corral where they belong, and those who don’t.
You know what I am talking about — those little designated areas scattered throughout almost every grocery store and shopping center parking lot, complete with metal barricades around them and little chocks cemented to the pavement to keep the buggies from rolling away (OK, I know that most of you Yankees, who think you are more evolved and refined than us, call them shopping carts, but this is my column, and in my column we shall refer to them as buggies, the way our Southern Baptist God intended).
These grocery buggy corrals, as my Facebook buddy and fellow writer, Greg “The TOMEster” Jones calls them, are there for several purposes: to protect the buggies from damage; to protect automobiles from damage; and to make sure that the store employees don’t have to search the entire “back forty” to “round up” stray buggies when they, rightfully, should be grazing safely in the corral.
Yet we have all seen those shoppers, those lazy, irresponsible shoppers, who unload their groceries into their SUVs, shove the buggies recklessly just a few feet away from their vehicles, and then motor off — no doubt to go pollute some stream with plastic “Piggly Wiggly bags” (we’ll have that conversation later, Yankee friends) and plastic bottles before speeding home to watch some reality TV show about a bunch of crazy, violent women sharing a vacation house, or teenage pregnant dropouts.
Forget about Jew vs. Arab, communist vs. capitalist, white vs. black, liberal vs. conservative, Democrat vs. Republican; there are basically only two types of people in this world — those who strive to do the right, responsible thing for society, for the planet, and those who care only about themselves and the immediate future. The sooner the human race can put aside all of its other, petty differences, recognize this fact, and try to educate and enlighten those of us who refuse to do the right thing, the better off our country will be, the better off our entire world will be.
It’s about doing the right thing, the smart thing, and the responsible thing. Imagine a world where people put things in their rightful places and tried to help others, help the next shopper, help the next generation, not just ourselves. Imagine a world where industry and big business put things back right and left things the way they found them, or perhaps left them even better. Such a world would be a wonderful place to live. Such a world might avoid global warming and widespread pollution and continue to exist, long after you and I are gone.
These are lessons I try to teach my sons. Put things back where you found them, in the condition you found them. Drop something? Pick it up. Make a mess? Clean it up. Hurt someone’s feelings or cause physical pain? Apologize, do something to try and fix it, and work to make sure it doesn’t happen again. It’s not just Dad’s tools, household messes and family disputes I’m teaching them, but a decent way of life.
Imagine, just imagine, if these weren’t just the idealistic words of a father with two growing kids, but the mission statement of every Fortune 500 Company, and the actual foreign policy of every nation on this planet. My, what a wonderful world we could become. But alas, first we must tackle the grocery buggy problem, and then work our way up from there.
My wife used to be one of those people who refused to return her grocery buggy to its proper place in the corral. Bless her heart, she would even openly mock me in front of the children when I took the time to deliberately defy her and walk 50 yards or more just to park a buggy, all the while glaring at me with impatience as if I were keeping her from some very important meeting or television show (no doubt the one about pregnant teenage dropouts).
But then she got a job working at a grocery store, and as part of the job she is required, several times a day, to go outside in the heat and “rustle up” all the stray buggies that didn’t make it to the corral. Just the other day I overheard her tell someone that “non-corralers” are now her biggest pet peeve and from now on she will park her buggies in the coral no matter what.
Apparently, there are two types of husbands in this world: those who are wise, and know when to smile smugly and quietly to themselves when they are right; and those who just cannot resist saying “I told you so” and suffer the consequences. Maybe one day I will learn to be as wise a husband as I am a father.
Michael DeWitt is editor/manager of the Hampton County Guardian in Georgia. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.