So for a short time when I was a teenager my friends and I would do this terrible thing we called “Shopping Cart Massacre”. We did it because we were teenagers and bored and jerks. Okay, that’s not entirely fair. I shouldn’t speak for my friends. Maybe they don’t regret it and, hey, that’s their choice, but I do. And I wasn’t that bored and maybe if I’d had the courage to say something we would have stopped but I didn’t.
I hate to even describe it but I think the statute of limitations has now passed so here’s how it worked: we regularly went to a shopping center that had a comic book store and a yogurt place, and you’d think those two things by themselves would be enough to keep us entertained but it didn’t. No, we’d take a shopping cart behind the stores where there was a high stone wall, and my friend who had a car would drive straight at the stone while one of us in the passenger seat would lean our hand out the window and hold onto the shopping cart. Then the driver would come to a sudden stop and the person holding the shopping cart would let go of it so it would slam into the stone wall. Distance limitations prevented the driver from getting much over ten miles per hour but after five or six times we could still do some serious damage to a shopping cart.
It was a terrible thing to do and even though we never got caught I still felt bad about it from the beginning, and maybe my friends did too, which is why we gave it up. Then a few years later I read Graham Greene’s story The Destructors and thought, well, we could have done something worse, but that’s another story.
I think about it almost every time I’m in a parking lot and, as a responsible adult, I always put my shopping cart either back in the designated part of the parking lot or I take it back into the store. And that’s what I was doing when I saw a Cart Narcs sticker on a car near mine. The Cart Narcs started out as one guy encouraging—sometimes politely shaming—people into putting their shopping carts in designated spaces but it’s spread across the country. And I kind of wanted to leave my cart out just to see if I could get the attention of a local Cart Narc but I had other places to go and stuff to do, and I try to do the right thing anyway because it’s just good cart-ma.