More than a cart

Eileen - burlington, Vermont
Entered on March 11, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

Grocery shopping as a kid was always exciting. The prospect of finally getting sugar cereal in the house was enough to get me into the car with mom. Time after time though, into the cart arrived a big yellow box, the contents inside tasting not unlike the cardboard package they were contained in. The fun really ended for me when we returned to the car and unloaded the groceries into the trunk. At that point mom would pile into the car, leaving me along with the cart. I was certain that everything fun that would possibly happen on the way home would take place in the time that it took for me to maneuver the cart, surely with at least one bum wheel, over to the “please return carts here” space.

Childhood came and went, in and out of college, my first apartment, and countless trips to the grocery store later, never was there a further distance than from the car to the nearest cart return. So I did not make the trip. I wheeled my cart right into the parking space next to my car, as dozens of other shoppers had done, and never looked back. This I believed.

In the past year I challenged myself to something that I once never would have dreamed possible or achievable. I vow to always return my shopping cart to the “please return carts here” spots. Even as I write this I am nervous. What if I am in a rush? What if it’s raining and I don’t have a jacket? What if it’s just too far away and there’s someone waiting in my spot? Always. I will return the cart. This I believe.

The cart is a symbol of all the things I affirm not to bypass. Dirty plates in the sink from delicious meals that I did not make and did not get to taste, just call me dish-pan hands. Scraps on the floor from a project I did not partake in, point me to the broom. To me this is separate from my sporadic flares of compulsive tendencies. To me this is about leaving something the way I wish I found it, the way I wish others cared to leave it themselves. To me this is one way to pass it forward. This I believe.