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Monday, January 13, 2014

The Shopping Cart Incident-Perspective and Vision


A couple weeks ago, bad weather was forecast to set in. We had just returned from a trip from Texas, in which we arrived home about 1:30 AM. Before we left I made sure we tried to eat up as much of the food in the house as possible, especially all perishables. So when we returned a trip to WalMart was on my errand list for that following day.

I had a few other errands to run first, and finally at about 4:15 I headed into my local Walmart. It was fairly busy, with many people trying to get some last minute items, before the snow flakes began to fall and the big freeze set in.

Now I am very much a task oriented individual, and I was on task that day. My task to get in, get what I absolutely had to have, and get out and get into my warm house. So, I walked into the grocery entrance of Walmart, I quickly noticed that there were no shopping carts at that entrance. So I assessed the situation. I noticed the Walmart employee (greeter), who was doing nothing about this situation, and had no help to offer me. (Which again, was not an unusual thing to me.)  I also noticed another lady who had a cart-it looked to me like she had just taken the last available cart at this end. Through my peripheral vision I saw another lady-who I wasn’t really sure what she was doing. She was sort of standing beside the lady with the cart. (So I wasn’t sure if she was with that lady, or what.) It really didn’t matter to me, because it had nothing to do with me and I was on task.


Now I am not one to sit around and wait, for someone else to do anything about a situation like this. Also, this wasn’t my first time experiencing this “no shopping cart” situation. In fact on several occasions I have walked into Walmart and have been faced with the issue of having to go find a cart. Many times it requiring much more patience and persistence on my part-than it did on this particular day. So, anyway, I turned toward the other entrance-my plan –to go get a cart at the other end of the store. As I walked down about 3 registers toward the other end, I noticed a person that had just finished checking out. So I asked him, if he was still in need of the cart. He said no, and was happy to give it to me. So I took the cart, turned around back toward the entrance I had come into –since I had come for food. As I rounded the corner, the lady (who had been in my peripheral vision earlier), said rather loudly-making sure I heard her, “Well I guess I will just stand here in line and wait for the next cart, like a good customer does.” At this point, I realize that that this woman-obviously believes that cart should have been hers, she believes that I have taken the only available cart and she was in line for it. She has some imaginary “WalMart shopping cart rules” in her mind, and an expectation for how each person should see this particular situation, and that somehow, I missed that I should have been behind her in this imaginary line of waiting   I was sort of stunned, and shocked that this is how this lady perceived this situation, but not wanting to offend the woman I said, “Well here, take my cart.” She said “Oh no, that is okay,” (I guess she was trying to smooth over her unruly outburst, so she didn’t come off as being so rude.) Nevertheless, I insisted, “No really, take it, it’s no big deal. I will just walk to the other end and get another cart.” She asked me if I was sure. And I assured her it was fine. So she agreed, and thanked me. I continued to the other end of the store-where there were 50 other carts available.

I was a little puzzled over the incident, but quickly put it out of my mind, and got back on my task of getting the food for my family and getting out of the store before the weather worsened.

When I got the groceries loaded up, and began to drive home, I began to consider the incident further. Funny, how God seems to speak to me in situations like this.

I thought about the woman-and the first thought that came to my mind, was her “Entitlement mentality”. There seems to be a lot of it going around these days. She obviously felt entitled to the cart. She obviously saw the situation as her being a “victim” of a bad situation. The Walmart employee was of no help, what was she to do. I really don’t know why she didn’t just walk to the other end of the store. So I pondered it. The first thought can be to judge the woman, but then I began to wonder, why she saw the situation the way she did. Perhaps she had never encountered that problem before. Perhaps she didn’t shop at Walmart often. Perhaps, she didn’t realize that other carts were readily available. Perhaps she couldn’t see that far down to the other end-and lacked vision. Perhaps, she was too tired to walk to the other end of the store. I really don’t know. I hope that our encounter that day-freed her up. I hope that through this experience, she can see a solution for the next time she encounters this problem. I hope she also saw that someone else was willing to give up something for her-to help her get what she needed.

So the situation made me ponder perspective. When I walked in-and encountered the exact same “no cart” situation, I responded with a victors mentality. “I will find a cart, I will get this shopping done, I will return home.” One thing I knew is that I could not return home without food. I could not walk in and tell my children, “ I didn’t get the food, there were no carts.”  However, another person responded with a different perspective. The one of a victim, the situation is bad, I don’t know how to overcome it. A situation where they look to others to solve the problem.

But that isn’t really the issue. It is a deeper issue of why do we see what we see. We all come from different perspectives. Everyone doesn’t see the situation the way I see it. Mostly I think people see a situation through the lens of past experiences. As I mentioned, I have become pretty good at overcoming the obstacle of “no shopping cart.” Even though the lady in the store had not. Keeping an open mind helps me to consider, and not be so quick to judge others-when they respond differently. They may just have a different lens that they are looking through.