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Essay: Returning the Cart

It’s a cold, dark night and I’m sitting in my car in a grocery store parking lot, checking my phone.  No answers to my emails, no confirming texts.  I’m feeling discouraged and frustrated.  Why can’t people be prompt?  Be courteous?


I look up and notice an old man coming out of the store.  He has a limp and is wearing shorts despite the chilly temperatures.  Suddenly he speeds up and I see that he’s going after a runaway cart.  It’s not even his cart, but he takes chase—zig-zagging down the pavement—until he grabs it and returns it to a nearby corral.

Then he limps across the lot to his truck and drives away.  No thanks.  No recognition.  Caught in an act of goodness by the surveillance camera and a writer in her car.  And somehow, this small drama redeems my day. 

And I wonder who the old guy is and why he’s wearing shorts.  Most of all, I wonder why he was inspired to rescue a wayward grocery cart?

I should have rolled down my window and hollered a thank you.  Not only for the cart but for the reminder that the world is full of people doing the right thing—anonymous people returning my runaway despair to the corral.