shopping carts & bad habits

Did Americans get fat and then lazy, or was it the other way around?  Doesn’t matter. . .but it is very sad to see people struggle to get around and then see them not do things they should because of their size.  Don’t misunderstand, I’m no specimen of physical condition, but I admire those who are and I’m constantly working to be more like them.  I suppose what put this on my mind was watching the Summer Olympics for the past few days.  Michael Phelps. . .need I say more.  Like Tank said about Neo to Morpheus, “He’s a machine.” But I digress. . .a lot.

I’m going to tell a couple of stories to try and make my point.

When I finished my junior year in high school a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, my dad drove me to the driver’s license office to get my permit; passed the written test and the driver’s test, took Driver’s Ed., and was ready to drive.  One problem, I didn’t have a car.  I’d been driving farm trucks on my granddads farm since I was 10 and an old Willys for a couple of years near my home in town.  But now I was a fully licensed, legal driver. . .without a car.

My mom didn’t drive much so my dad gave me my mom’s 1964 & 1/2 midnight blue Ford Mustang (otherwise known as Twilight Turquoise).  Little did I know that I couldn’t afford gas, much less license plates and insurance.  So, it was time to get a job.  A job I really didn’t need because I’d been working on the aforementioned farm for a long time.  Herding and milking 200+ head of milk cows, mowing, raking, bailing, and stacking hay to take to the local co-op to be ground into feed for those cows, slopping hogs, gathering eggs, weeding the vegetable garden, and working tobacco was pretty much an everyday affair for me. But still, I was becoming a city slicker now, if that’s possible in a town of 20,000 people; and since I had a car at my disposal now, I needed a regular job.

Amazingly, I made really good grades in school so, for my senior year, I only had a couple of classes to take, got out of school early in the day, and went to work.  My first “real” job was at a supercenter before there was such a thing.  It was a giant discount store with a full grocery department.  Being in the hills of East Tennessee, it was on one of those hills with the parking lot angling down a hill away from the store.  We had LOTS of shopping carts. My job was batboy and cart pusher.  My dad and granddad had already instilled in me a good work ethic so I decided to be the best bagger and cart pusher in America.  Something went well; it wasn’t long until I was offered a full-time job and a big raise, all the way to $1.25/hour.  Hey, 50 bucks a week made me one rich car driver.

Seeing this as yet another opportunity to teach me about privilege and responsibility, my dad handed me the tag renewal on the Mustang as well as the insurance premium bill. I didn’t really like that arrangement, but I wasn’t about to give up the keys!  I started customizing the car’s interior and “souped up” the engine. As advancement after advancement took me farther up the company food chain, I made more money. . .but sometimes I still went out and pushed shopping carts up the hill.

A little aside. . .while working at that store, one day a beautiful brunette walked in looking for a job.  The store manager hired her and immediately she was under my supervision.  The day she hired in I went home and told my dad I was going to marry her; I didn’t even know her name.  We’ve been married for 40 years.

A few weeks ago I was in South Florida visiting my son (that’s code for going to see my four grandchildren). One evening Chris and I went to a local Publix grocery store to pick up some things.  The next day he asked me if I noticed something odd about the store’s parking lot.  I didn’t so he told me they don’t have shopping cart corrals.  They have shopping cart pushers on the job constantly.  The land down there is completely flat so they don’t really have to worry about them rolling into a car; nevertheless, they chase those things and bring them back into the store moment by moment.

When I got back home to North Mississippi, I went grocery shopping.  After gathering all my items and paying for them, I made my way out to my car, loaded my groceries, and looked for a cart corral.  One was located just a few feet from my car so I headed straight for it.  I had to wiggle around 5 or 6 empty carts sitting on the parking lot outside the corral–in fact, one was pushed up against the corral.  I thought to myself, we don’t need these things up here either; noone uses them anyway.

But it’s not just the local Kroger, Walmart, Target and every other store that has shopping carts suffer from the same ailment; lazy Americans. You see, people with a good work ethic who understand privilege and responsibility don’t leave their shopping cart sitting where they empty it, often pushed up against someone else’s vehicle.  Instead, they politely and gladly push their own cart to the closest corral because it’s the right thing to do.

Many don’t do it because they are in a hurry.  Some don’t do it because they just don’t feel like it; I’ve watched some of those folks.  It’s no wonder they don’t feel like it, they’re huge.  Some don’t do it just because they are lazy.  And, I’m convinced many don’t return their shopping cart to the corral because they are both–fat AND lazy.

Now, before you take up arms and decide to crucify me, let me tell you something; I understand as well as anyone that some folks cannot help the fact that they are large.  Some medical problems are just hard to overcome.  But also understand that of the 40+% of American adults who are overweight to the point of morbid obesity, more than 95% of them don’t have a disease, they’re just too lazy to car.  Apparently, either they were never taught about privilege and responsibility, or, they just don’t care.

I go with the later. . .bad habits spawn more bad habits and before long, life is overcome with those habits. If this offends you, prove me wrong.  If you agree with me, try to help someone overcome their bad habits. You’ll both be glad you did.

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