Thursday, May 15, 2008

My Faith in Humanity Restored

The way I’ve always seen it is that there are two types of people in the world:

a. Those who return their shopping cart to the “Return Carts Here” spot in the parking lot.

b. Those who leave the cart next to their car and drive away quickly before anyone notices.

Yesterday, the cubs and I were grocery shopping at Walmart. Unbeknownst to us, a rainstorm was brewing outside. After the groceries were bagged and loaded into the cart, we walked to the front of the store and saw what we were in for: raindrops the size of quarters hitting the cowering pavement with unprecedented force.

I sighed and strategized how to get the cubs and groceries to the Rav-4 (which was parked at the back of the parking lot, of course) as quickly and tear-free as possible.

I gave Doug a high five and told him we were going to play in the water. Then I covered Kiana’s head the best I could (she was snuggled against me in the Baby Bjorn) and we made a dash to the car. Doug yelped with delight and Kiana flinched as pellets of water ricocheted off her bald little head and on to the ground.

When we reached the car, I left Doug in the cart beside the trunk (in the pounding rain) and quickly lifted Kiana into her car seat. Even though her face was splotchy red and dripping wet, she threw me a love smile that melted me into a soupy puddle of mommy.

After Kiana was buckled in, I turned to grab Douglas. I gasped to see that a gigantic black man had appeared out of nowhere and was hovering over my little boy... with an umbrella.

“I tried to get to you guys sooner,” he explained “but I just couldn’t make it in time.” He looked like Gordon from Sesame Street, with a thick black mustache, bald head, and gentle eyes.

He held the umbrella over our heads as I lifted Doug into his car seat and fastened him in, the stranger himself completely exposed to the elements.

“Thanks so much,” I excused him, not wanting to impose longer than necessary.

“I’ll stay here until you get the groceries in the car,” he said kindly.

“You don’t have to,” I said. “I don’t think I can get any wetter than I already am.”

“Don’t want you to catch a cold. That won’t do anyone any good.”

So I loaded the groceries in the car while he held the umbrella and told me about his grandbabies. I shut the trunk door and thanked him again.

“I’ll take care of your cart for you. You just get on your way with those sweet babies,” he said after he walked me to my car door. He ran the cart the allotted spot and waved goodbye.

My insides clenched with tenderness for this stranger who got wet (soaked) so we wouldn’t have to. He seemed well-practiced at kindness—like he’d been doing it for years and it had become a second-nature to him. What touched me the most, however, was that he had stayed until the job was done—till the last bag was loaded and the cart was put where it belonged.

I felt inspired after being on the receiving end of this small, but large, act of compassion. How I long to be the person with the umbrella, thinking less of myself then those in need, seeing what needs to be done and doing it…until the job is finished.

I do consider myself the type of person to walk my grocery cart to the designated spot. It’s rude to leave it in the middle of the parking lot to create problems for other customers and make more work for the cart collectors. But perhaps there’s one more type of person in this world.

c. One who puts their cart where it belongs, but grabs the other stray carts along the way.


Jer and Jealin said...

One of my favorite posts! I am also of the 'a.' persuasion. (sp?) I love reading your blog! Keep it up. Please, or my life will get boring.

Dirk -- Laura -- Hayden said...

awww... that is so sweet! I'm jealous of your rain.. it never seems to get down here until I've gone to bed :(

I'm a firm believer that a mother with a child in tow has no obligation to return the cart, unless she is parked very near (meaning 2-3 spots away) to the return place. I just have horror images of someone stealing my baby out of my car while I'm returning it... Occasionally I'll take him with me to return it, but that creates a huge hassle. I've decided that if I place it nicely and safely in an area that does not create a safety issue, or steal any spots, then I'm still a good person :)

That man is seriously so sweet! Makes me feel better reading this, after my stupid dog poop story!

Meggie said...

What a cool story and you told it so well!! I enjoyed this post so much I copied it and put it in an email to my sister, I hope you don't mind! I just had to share it with her! Reading this seriously put me into deep thought! Thanks so much!

Alesa Shelby said...

What a beautiful post! You are a seriously talented writer.

Kristy said...

Yay for that nice man! He's an inspiration.

Dana said...

I love those kind of stories. What a nice man! It makes me want to do nice things for people. I think sometimes I get so wrapped up in myself and my own little family that I don't even notice when people need help. I think I'll will be more aware of others around me now.

Thanks for that great post. :)

adrienne said...

I love him! I just said a little prayer of gratitude for him.

Steph Bowen said...

How cute. That makes me tear up a bit. I have to say that as I've been pregnant, I try to park next to the random carts that people leave scattered around the parking lots so that I can load it up with my purse and drink and bags before I even get to the door of the store. I'll probably like the stray carts when I have the baby so that I can load her in very close to the car. I didn't like the carts everywhere before I was pregnant though.

I often count the returning of stray carts to the cart stall an act of service. That way I don't feel obligated to bake someone cookies or do something else nice because I already did my service for the day :) Yes, I am a bad person.

Audrey said...

I have to agree with your friend Laura and say the world can not be so easily divided into the shopping cart responsible and the shopping cart irresponsible. In AZ when I return from shopping whether it's for five minutes and I turn my car on with the AC full blast, the inside temperature of my car is well over 130 degrees and I am not about to walk the cart 30 feet to return it with my children sitting in that hot car with hot air blowing on their faces. When it's over 110 outside (which it is most of the summer here), parking your cart in a place where it hinders no one else's car is perfectly acceptable I believe. I think the shopping cart analogy only applies to areas where the temperature is a non-factor.

Chris and Tara Mason said...

What an awesome man!
I have to admit that I usually return my carts to their designated area, however, I have been a slacker at times and have not returned them to where they are supposed to go. Today was one of those days - it was hot, I was sunburned, and the kids were out of control! I used up all of my energy trying not to yell at the little ones and decided that I didn't care about the cart. I thought that I had placed it out of the way so that it wouldn't interfere with the parking spaces or have a chance to roll away and damage any cars, but I didn't take into account how large SUVs are. As I was pulling out, an SUV pulled in to the space next to mine and they gave me a crusty look. I deserved the look (and maybe a rude hand gesture), but I was too tired to care!

Melanie said...

People like that not only do good deeds, but they do them in such a way that makes the rest of us stop for a minute and hopefully go on to do more good ourselves. Thanks for sharing, and ps, I love your allusion to Gordon from Sesame Street. I totally remember him.

Heather & Trevor said...

Ohhhhh! How sweet! Don't you just love people like that! Great story! And yes, I DO return my cart! :)

Jessie said...

I'm honestly crying reading this post. It makes me so happy to hear about great little things happening like this in people's every day lives.

Also, I'm a cart returner about 95%, occasionally the situation calls for a quick get away, but I do believe in returning your cart! Occasionally I grab other carts along the way, but maybe now I'll do it a little more :)

Dianna said...

I LOVE this post. I almost started crying. Yes, there are those kind of people but they are rare.

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