The Courtesies of Carting About

My friend told me a story one day about a time when she went grocery shopping at a local chain store and was met with some rather rude, impatient behavior. She was walking in the main door just slightly ahead of another woman and got to the row of shopping carts first. She pulled on her shopping cart to break it away from the row,  but it wouldn’t budge. She pulled and pulled and jerked but it wouldn’t move. The woman behind her rudely snapped, “Would you hurry up already?” and crossed her arms wearing an angry frown. Finally after numerous hefty tugs, the cart let itself loose from the row and my friend was on her way, but her shopping experience had become overcast with frustration.

I think we’ve all been in a situation like this on both ends: either you are being scowled at for something you can’t help, or you are the one scowling. So in the future, let us all remember to be patient, or even offer to help the person who is having difficulty.

Here are a few other tips pertaining to grocery cart etiquette:

  1. If you arrive first, why not let the person behind you grab their cart first? You can just smile, gesture to the carts, and say, “After you.”  Usually people will be grateful, or shocked by the kind mannerism.
  2. First come, first served doesn’t have to apply: if you get to the carts first and someone is behind you, offer the first cart you grab to them, and then take the next one for yourself.
  3. When you finish unloading your groceries into your car, place your cart in the designated area. Be sure to push it into the carts already in the cart-catcher so there is more room for future carts.
  4. I sometimes grab rogue carts from the parking lot on my way to dispose of mine to lessen the task for the cart-collector and to clear up parking spots for other cars. (The other day I drove into a parking lot where the cart-catcher was covered in snow and some thirty carts had completely cluttered up the driveway of the parking lot. That one was a bit too big for me to handle.)
  5. Drive on the right: if we pushed our carts on the right side of the lane while shopping, it might make for smoother shopping excursions.
  6. When  you “pull over” to browse a shelf, put your cart as close to the shelves as possible to make room for carts that are just passing through.
  7. Clean out any ads or papers that you left in your cart to keep it clean for its next patron.
  8. If someone is finished unloading their groceries into their car, you can offer to take their cart. This is a nice way to save a stranger the trip to the cart-collector. Just be sure you feel safe in initiating unexpected conversation with a stranger. Also, this doesn’t go the other way: don’t ask someone if they want your newly-emptied cart. That just might seem like you want them to clean up after you.


© Be Nice. Creator and Be Nice. (, 2008-2009.

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