Shopping carts never really used to play that big of a role in my life. I would use it at the store, unload my groceries into my truck then return it to the nearest cart return. The nearest one is usually less than 20 yards away. Now, thanks to this national pandemic, I deal with shopping carts almost every day.

I am married to a wonderful woman who is a traveling nurse. We are guests here in Half Moon Bay. We came here when my wife was offered a contract at a nearby hospital to help battle the coronavirus. We love the town, and most of the people we have met are nice beyond belief.

I normally work as a bartender wherever this crazy travel nursing gig takes us; but since the world ended, I had to get a job at a local grocery store instead. Most customers are friendly and tell me “thank you for being here,” which is really nice to hear.

However, for every nice decent person that comes in, there is always some nightmare lurking somewhere in the line. I honestly can’t believe that in times such as these, people will be rude to a cashier. Yes, I get that it feels like the world is on fire right now and that stress is at an all-time high, but fussing at me does nothing but increase the overall stress and tension.

One of my duties is going out and retrieving the carts from the parking lot. You might see me out there several times throughout my shift, and you’ll see me going to every corner of the blacktop to get carts people leave in bushes and on curbs. Today someone left a cart two spaces from the cart return. Let me say that again, TWO SPACES.

That’s not even the worst part. Often these stray carts are the ones littered with used, inside- out gloves and other various trash. Really, people? During all that’s going on in the world right now, you can’t return your cart, or even take your trash out of it?

Now is not the time to be inconsiderate. Now is not the time to be rude. Now, more than ever, we, as people in general, need to strive to help make someone’s day better, not worse. We need to put smiles on faces, though they may be hidden, not be the reason they leave. Be patient. Say please and thank you. Be respectful to all people. Pick up your trash. And for heaven’s sake, return your shopping cart to where it goes.

Tim Foutz and his wife are seeing the country but live in Johnson City, Tenn.

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(1) comment

Thank you for writing this. It sounds strange, but I've long used cart return as a litmus test for community livability. I've resided in seven different areas of the country; something as simple as returning one's cart reflects awareness for others. Awareness of others leads to engaged communities, and engaged communities are places I want to call home. I love the Coastside, primarily because the community is so supportive and involved. Still, we can always do come on y'all, return those carts!

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