The Black Side: A little more consideration, pleaser

By Perri Black

BN Columnist

I heard that, in addition to the standard New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, get in shape, and save more money, this year many people were expressing the intention to “become a better person.” I’m not sure what has prompted this — perhaps the political situation, climate change, or any number of pressing current issues — but I hope it means that people will listen more, talk less, think before they speak (or write), and have more consideration for others in their day-to-day lives. Essentially, I am hoping for better manners, better behavior, more empathy, and a resurgence of civility in our society. And I have a suggestion for where to start.

One of my pet peeves, which occurs with frustrating and infuriating frequency, is confronting a shopping cart left in the middle of a parking space and preventing anyone from parking in it. It is so annoying to have to get out of the car, move the cart, and then get back in to finish parking. Or to slowly nudge the cart into the (hopefully empty) space ahead with the front of your car as you try to park. Shoppers at both supermarkets in Bridgton, as well as other places in and out of town, are equally guilty. And this is a year-round issue — it cannot be blamed on visitors “from away.”

It is common to see multiple spaces occupied by carts, despite the conveniently located “corrals” specifically designated to contain carts until a store employee can round them up and herd them back to the store. It particularly baffles me that people will leave carts blocking parking spaces right next to the corrals. I wonder — how much trouble is it to simply return a cart to its appropriate place after unloading?

Once I witnessed a man struggling to hoist his empty cart up onto a little island that separated rows of spaces in a parking lot — he eventually succeeded, and the cart was not blocking any parking spaces, but it would have been easier and more efficient to just go down a few spaces and deposit the cart in the corral.

I would love to know why those guilty of this transgression do it. Are they simply oblivious of what they are doing? Do they not care about inconveniencing others? Are they so entitled that they think other people will come along behind them and clear out their mess? Or are they just lazy?

Oddly enough, I rarely see anyone actually leaving an empty cart blocking a parking space, but the evidence (and inconvenience) is overwhelming. If I happen upon someone in the act of abandoning a cart and blocking a space, I hope I have the nerve to ask them why. A friend of mine did that once and received a barrage of foul language before the guilty party drove off in a blaze of fury.

So what would justify leaving a cart to obstruct a parking space? Perhaps someone suffered a medical event and was unable to return their cart before they were whisked away in an ambulance. Possible but, given the number of obstructionist carts, I would expect to see a lot more emergency vehicles on site. Maybe a harried, stressed-out mom finally got her groceries, the dog, and three whiny kids all into the car and needed to make a quick getaway before a cataclysmic family meltdown. I can understand that and even forgive it once and awhile but, again, the number of stranded carts indicates some other reason.

Of the four options mentioned earlier, I choose to give my fellow citizens the benefit of the doubt and suggest that obliviousness or laziness might be the reasons for leaving carts behind to block parking spaces. Both conditions can easily be cured by awareness and a commitment to behaving better. Not caring and entitlement are considerable character flaws that require significant attitude adjustment, which takes much longer and is less certain.

Now that awareness has been raised, I hope drivers and shoppers will show a little more thought for those with whom they share the parking lots. Please make sure your empty carts are put away in designated areas so they do not prevent others from utilizing parking spaces. This is common courtesy and decent behavior — one step toward a more caring and considerate community.

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