The abandoned shopping cart… literally… an ethics problem or is it leadership?
It’s the bane of urban existence – grocery store shopping carts abandoned on your property. My partner and I had the unusual experience last week of watching two vagabonds park their “stolen” shopping cart at the edge of our property. No use asking them to take it away, they were clearly done with this conveyance and ready to leave the cart at for the next person (homeless version of ZipCar).
What would you do? What would Jesus do? And for that matter, whose problem is it anyway? This is where the interesting dialogue began in the office. Is it the store’s responsibility? (I won’t mention Sav Mor in Pueblo, Colorado). Well, actually it really isn’t. Think about it. The carts cost approximately $175-$200.00 each and it is in the grocery store’s best interest to limit their losses and protect the carts from theft. They were robbed. Granted, our four calls to the store to come pick up the cart was filed in the “when pigs fly” basket. We did get an assurance that when John came back from vacation next week, they would send him out. But the fact remains that the carts were stolen / borrowed from their store without permission. They did not place the cart on our corner.
We don’t blame the wayfarer who left the cart on our premise. It seems to be a bit of a code of travel these days. You can spot carts conveniently left at all sorts of locations (mostly from California). For those interested, we’re compiling a photo journal of end destinations for carts including river bottoms, school parking lots, churches, at the base of a monument and yes, even the inside median on a freeway. These men and women have some hard ”yakka” moving all their worldly possessions from point “a” to point “b”.
Why did the cart bother us so much? Well, I think (although my partner does not) that one picture really does tell a story and in this case, it’s a story of homelessness and vagrancy. “Not on my doorstep” says the local gentry. Well, yes, on your doorstep. We have an amazing community on the verge of a monumental socio-economic transformation. We have what Justin Holman has coined as the 4 “c”s – climate, culture, cost of living and, Colorado. (check out justinholman.com/2014/01/26/pueblo-4cs/ ). If Justin is correct, and we think he is, the community has to accept responsibility not for shopping carts, but for the attitude behind the issue.
So whose responsibility is it? I don’t have a strict answer for that, but I do have a pretty good answer, thanks to Jeanne Morse. It goes something like this. If you have an opportunity to do what is right – when no one is looking – don’t “just do it”, grab it. The end of story is that we drove our truck down to the office, put the cart in the back and returned it to the store. No fanfare, just dropped it off and put it in the cart return.
The shopping cart is just a symbol. I can hear my friends murmuring now – “if you are doing what’s right when no one is looking / reading/ listening, why did you pen this in your blog?” Good questions, and my only good answer is that sometimes we / I forget the value in doing what is right, whether it be keeping a confidence, showing a kindness to those most in need, and yes, claiming responsibility (when it probably isn’t yours) Thanks Jeanne Morse and Justin Holman. Hopefully this is a part of what is making the community different.
Corporate attitude can be a part of making your business different. How would you have handled the shopping cart? Let us know…..