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Please return carts, no matter your age!

Okay, I'll admit it sounds bad when I say I yelled at a senior citizen the other day. So let me try to explain.

I found myself in an adjacent county running errands and realized I was short on victuals. With my boys in tow, we headed to the grocery store and looked for a parking space.

We found one adjacent to the cart return. I gave my left turn signal and as I started to pull into the space, this cute little white haired woman (later determined to not be a lady) pushing an empty cart started across the parking space I was pulling into.

I hit the brake to keep from hitting her, thinking maybe she didn't see us, although we drive an SUV, and that's kind of scary if you miss that from three feet away and you're still driving. But, that's another story.

Then, the woman stopped, gave her cart a shove and pitched it right into the space I was halfway pulled into. She was five steps from returning the cart properly, like any God-fearing, patriotic citizen ought to do.

After a restrained PG-13 exclamation, I rolled the passenger side window down, and called to the woman: "Ma'am, can you move your cart? You almost hit my car, and left it right in front of us."

She looked right at my 10-year-old and me, and waved us off. It wasn't the universal hand signal most of us recognize, but it was pretty dang close.

At that point, I'm not sure what came over me.

Maybe I was channeling my wife Kristi, whose pet peeve since I've known her is people who don't return their shopping carts. Other than when I do something stupid, I have rarely seen Kristi get angry (full disclosure: this happens more than it should, admittedly), but that woman pulls on the power of her strawberry blonde hair when she sees a fellow citizen abandon a cart. She even pushes the boundaries of her G rating. I've heard he say "dang" more than once in this situation.

Maybe it was because, like my middle son, I have little tolerance for inconsiderate, rude or unfair actions, but he's only 12 after all, and I'm a tad older and allegedly more mature.

But I do know that I let go with a stern and quick lecture on manners, common courtesy and possibly that anyone who remembers where they were when Lincoln was shot surely ought to know better.

The offender was not impressed and scooted away to her car.

I looked at my boys, who at this point were staring at me with open mouths. One of them said, "Well, that was interesting," and the other, "Man, that was rude." I wasn't sure if they were talking about her or me, but the 10-year-old quickly bounced out of the car and put the cart in the return. Come to think of it, neither of them were much trouble at all in the grocery store, or for the rest of the afternoon.

And I'll tell you what I told them: I probably should have let it go, especially in light of today's dangerous world, and the fact I was not carrying that day. I then added that it was important to have manners, and that went beyond saying, "Sir" and "Ma'am," that it was important to do the right thing, even when you didn't have to, like in the parking lot with a grocery cart. I have the scars on my rear and front bumpers where I've removed plenty of stray carts after coming out of stores, and seen others get gashes so big they had to visit body shops. Lack of courtesy can actually be expensive.

I included that common courtesy was something the world could use a little more of, and I dispelled the notion that age gives you a pass in life. Folks who are mean or inconsiderate when they are young, often don't change their spots as they get older, and vice versa.

Someone healthy and blessed enough to be able to push a cart and drive a car and walk through a grocery store ought to be able to walk to a cart return on a sunny day and not be so inconsiderate. When they don't, I probably shouldn't yell at them, but it would sure serve them right if their eggs were cracked when they got home.


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