Cart Corral Corrupters

I realize that I write about grocery shopping a lot.

The reason for that is because a) I’m at the store a few times a week and b) I am an astute observer of human behavior and notice things others might not—like little kids sticking green beans up their noses and putting them back in the pile, old men in sweatpants suggestively fondling cucumbers, checkout belt divider creepers, etc.

Perhaps I need a new hobby, but then again, perhaps I just need my fresh produce and will sacrifice my sanity to bring home the broccoli.

At any rate, my latest public declaration is that there are two kinds of people in this world: 1) those who return carts to the cart corral and 2) a-holes.


“Go to your home!  Are you too good for your home?” (Bonus points if you get this reference.)

Disclaimer: This observation excludes parents who might not want to leave their kids alone in the car to return the cart. For that reason, you’re excused.

But with that said, anyone else who refuses to return the cart to it’s home deserves to purchase and eat the boogery beans mentioned above.


Because shopping carts are provided for the convenience of customers. Cart corrals are provided for the specific purpose of controlling the carts so they don’t roam free in the parking lot, creating an inconvenience that cancels out the aforementioned cart convenience.

These cart corrals are clearly marked and not hidden in some cart corral cave accessible only through a series of security measures and secret handshakes, and a shopping cart left to run amok can cause a great deal of damage and injury.

When it’s windy, they blow around and are magnetically drawn to parked cars and elderly women who unknowingly take on the role of human bowling pins as they shuffle up to the doors to pick up their cat food and butterscotch candies.

Let’s also mention that leaving a cart to find it’s own way home often results in the cart camping out in a parking spot, a parking spot someone (ahem) will inevitably pull halfway into before realizing the cart is there and angrily backing out, pissing off people behind them.

It’s a vicious cycle.

The fact is that carts cannot be trusted to return themselves to the cart corral.  It takes a firm hand, determination and perhaps a few extra steps to see to it that they are put back where they belong. Before you know it, the cart jockey will come out with his little electric cart-picker-upper and round them all up to take back.

And while I hate to give out my secrets, I’ll share a trick of the trade—park next to a cart corral.

This serves a couple of purposes, one being the fact that it’s convenient to return your cart immediately upon shopping completion. But if you’re anything like me and often find yourself wandering around the parking lot pretending you meant to walk up and down every aisle before settling back to your car, parking by a cart corral at least narrows down the options of where your car actually is.

You’re welcome.

But the bottom line is the carts have a home. Help them find their home or be cast as a cart corral corrupter and feel much shame.

And for god’s sake, wash your produce.

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46 responses to “Cart Corral Corrupters

  1. Spoiler alert: Happy Gilmore. 🙂
    I return the cart 99% of the time… once it a while it seems SO FAR AWAY…

  2. I feel about this like I feel about picking up my dog’s poo. I never actually want to do either of them, but if I don’t, I am weighed down by guilt. My conscience loves to overexert itself!

  3. I get the bonus points ’cause I watched Happy Gilmore at least 20 times when it came out.

    I ALWAYS put my cart back, and I try to park next to the cart return for your exact reason. I suck at remembering where I park so much so they I have a parking locator app that I use.

    I will add to your non-returner tomfoolery, those who leave trash in their carts. I go up happily to get my cart and Target and almost always there’s a tissue, or mailer in there. Gross.

    • I am not even going to correct my iPhone autocorrect stuff in that comment. I have no Internet until Monday.

    • Yes! The amount of weekly ads and leftover grocery lists found in carts is ridiculous. I was going to add that, but I had already rambled long enough.

  4. ha! I love this post — so so true!

    We do our weekly grocery shopping at Costco, so the carts are the size of midsize sedans, and people just leave them everywhere…. bastards! I sometimes have to move them out of the parking spot to get the car in.

    These lazy people will wheel the cart thru the massive warehouse store for an hour eating deep fried samples, but are too lazy to take it back to the proper spot….aaargh!

  5. A brilliantly humorous post! So true.

  6. I do return them and I hate the lazy punk asses that don’t. My exception is when I use an electric crip cart. If it seems like it needs charged I leave it plugged in where the others are kept. If its still well charged I will leave it outside, in the handicapped parking area, for the next person who may need it and for whom that walk inside is a long one. But those don’t get blown by the wind so I don’t feel too bad about them.

  7. I park near the corral sometimes, but then the jerks who just shove their carts in the general direction of the corral end up banging em into my car…

  8. “. . . and elderly women who unknowingly take on the role of human bowling pins as they shuffle up to the doors to pick up their cat food and butterscotch candies.”

    Still chuckling about this, especially as I’m now officially elderly. Dammit, I didn’t know I was allowed cat food AND butterscotch candies. (Note to self: must get me a cat ‘cos I don’t like cat food.) Love this post 🙂

  9. At Aldi you leave a quarter deposit for every cart. Yes, I occasionally shop at Aldi, where EVERY cart is returned. Don’t judge.

  10. I try to park near the cart corral for your reason above…I always always forget where I park….and also so I don’t have to walk away from my toddlers in the car. However, I am guilty of trying to strategically park the cart so it won’t roll away, if I’m not close enough to a corral to keep my kids in view. I humbly apologize for being an Asshole. Lol

  11. The real assholes are the ones that just throw the cart in an empty space. For sure. Because not only are they not putting the cart in it’s proper place, they’re also taking up an entire space so that poor soles like me have to drive around the parking lot for an extra 5-10 minutes waiting to park. Meh.

  12. I don’t care that I’m 29 years old, I still watch Happy Gilmore almost every single time I see that it’s on. “Oh, yeah well now your BACK’s gonna hurt bc you just pulled landscaping duty!”
    And I always park near the cart receptacle just so I can easy assure it goes back into it’s rightful place.

  13. I make it a point to ask if people are done with their carts if if looks like they are leaving them there. I also find running those people over helps with the whole return situation, either they have learned a lesson or they are dead. Costco is the WORST since there are no bags AND they have like one corral for the entire parking lot.

    • That’s why I don’t go to Costco. Well, no, it’s not, but now I can add that to the list of why I don’t shop at Costco.

  14. This is good, solid advice. I feel freer already. And, I always return my cart. I keep my kid IN the cart, put it in the corral, then pick her up and carry her back to the car. It’s not hard. I mean, if I can do it…anyone can.

  15. A wild cart hit my car today! Since my car is covered in duct tape in an effort to hold together the parts that fell off when someone hit me and ran a few months ago, I don’t mind the scratches. It’s the principle! I’m seriously going vigilante. The next time I catch an offender I’m leaving a shopping cart on their front doorstep every day for a year. I’ll e-mail you pictures of their bewildered little faces each morning.

  16. The grocery store near me doesn’t have cart corrals–because they always provide someone to help you out with the groceries. But I don’t want people to help me out because it just seems silly (and also I don’t like to make small talk. Or any talk) so I always turn down their help and then I have to walk the cart all the way back into the store and halfway across the front of it again to get the carts back to where they belong.

    Being polite and anti-social is a bitch.

  17. The only exercise I get is parking as far away from the front of the store as I can and taking the cart back to the corral when I’m through with it. However, I do try to find someone heading towards the store to offer them my cart…takes away half the guilt for not having returned it to the corral;-)

  18. StoriesAndSweetPotatoes

    As someone who has worked in a grocery store I try to be the most considerate customer. However, my efforts are never appreciated so now I’m just a bitter asshole.

  19. I ALWAYS pick out the cart that has the effed up wheels. Consequently, I then spend theentire shop, dragging the bloody thing around with me because I am too lazy to take it back. Lately, I’ve started using baskets instead. Much better.

    For me and my purse.

  20. Ha! I feel the same way about the people who are too lazy to return the carts. Argh!

  21. And just chucking the cart in the general direction of the cart corral DOESN’T COUNT. In fact, it usually makes things worse. Why do people get *almost there* and then give up? Really? It’s another ten feet!

  22. I also always, always park near the cart deposit area.

    Last month, I went to Target and my shoes literally fell apart to the point I couldn’t wear them anymore. I was barefoot in the parking lot on hot asphalt (this was before the 100 degree weather – that would have blistered me), and I still returned my cart. I actually have fantasies of winning the lottery and randomly gifting people with money who are returning their carts. I have extremely boring fantasies.

  23. I’m completely in agreement here and I have actually scolded people in the parking lot for being too lazy to return their carts.

    I also park next to cart returns, but only because my parents usually did, though I never fully knew why.

  24. you can trouble me for a warm glass of shut the hell up! 😉 one of my favorite movies, SO many great lines. (the price is WRONG…)

    you get me, you really really get me. from a young age I have felt badly for the left behind shop carts… when I was little I used to get upset when I’d see one abandoned on the side of the road. so lonely. to this day my mom points them out, uh oh, there’s another one… (even if it’s just way out at the edge of the parking lot, by the street).

    so yeah. I always return my cart.

    another thing that immediately puts an extra smile in my shopping trip? when I find one of the SMALL carts!! even if I have a full list, I want a small cart, they are so much easier to maneuver and… they fit a lot. I hate the large bulky carts, and will go out of my way to find a small one – even going back outside to get it. I was shopping with my brother last weekend and I couldn’t find a small cart… (I made him push the large thing). the whole time we were shopping he’d point them out, look there’s another small cart! it was hilarious.

    • No, you get me! I always feel bad for the abandoned cart too! It’s kind of like the Christmas trees that nobody every bought, just tossed and discarded to the side. We must rescue the carts, namely the little ones.

  25. Normally agree, but I have to say that due to hormones lately, there have been times where I literally cannot physically move the cart to the corral for various reasons. So you may have been cursing me. But I swear I had a good reason.

  26. Abby, THIS is one of my biggest pet peeves. Probably because my dad beat it in our heads as kids that you NEVER leave a cart away from its home and if you find one sitting randomly in a parking lot, push the damn thing to its home or take it to the store, you’re walking that way anyway. My boys do it now too (Grandparents are great like that, teaching your kids stuff).

    And hey, having kids is NO excuse for NOT returning carts. I can say this because when mine were little I ALWAYS returned the carts! I unloaded my crap into the trunk while my kid sat in the cart, then I pushed the cart to the corral and then I carried my kid back to the car. Was it a pain, sure as heck was! That’s why I didn’t take them shopping with me a lot!

    Okay, I’m off my soap box and waiting for my star!! 😉

    Great post!

  27. Who has time for a hobby when there is grocery shopping to do, seriously?! Love your commentary–so spot-on. Keep bringing home the broccoli 😉

  28. Running from Hell with El

    I laughed my ass off and nodded the entire time I read this post, hun. As the mom of three younglings, I do exactly what you do: park next to or preferably near (if you park next to a corral, your SUV is more likely to get dinged) the return corral. Really . . . not . . . hard!

    Love the secondary effects: folks pulling in halfway. Gah!

    And kids with green beans–those would be my kids. When they were really, really young (4,3, and 2, for ex.) I would pretend they belonged to some other mom when they screamed too much or destroyed the soap display. Sigh. I know that’s wrong. But I digress.

  29. I always return the cart, and it is a pet peeve of mine when others don’t. Just bring the kids with you to return it. They’re not alone in the car, and you’re giving them a life lesson in civic responsibility. It’s not hard!

  30. I cannot agree more! I feel like it’s so inconsiderate to just leave your cart in the parking space. I also park by the cart corrals 🙂

  31. kelleysbreakroom

    What’s wrong with a little booger on a bean??

    Yeah, parking next to the corral was very good advice, you smart lady you!

    Thanks for posting this on #findingthefunny last week!

  32. People…there is just no excuse for this nonsense! Here are my thoughts: leave your kid in the cart, walk it back to the corral, then carry kid back to the car. Or let hem walk. That’s up to you. I believe that people who don’t out their’s up, and leave them hither and yon, will spend their afterlife roaming around an enormous parking lot, rounding up stray carts.

    I have a lot of passion about this, can you tell? Found you from Finding the Funny!

    • 1) I love this comment, mostly because you used “hither and yon. 2) I love the name of your blog, mostly because I LOVE cleaning out the dryer lint trap.

  33. Just for the record, I alway’s bring my cart back and sometimes the store people are shocked. Also, on a different note. My husband taped two things on the t.v. at the same time tonight and I could not watch it, so I’ve caught up with all your blog entries. Love it. Keep em coming.

  34. I was just writing about the cart corral and my favorite parking spot right next to it. Not so much to save the world from stray carts (though I always return mine) as much as to save my kid from abduction by clowns. Po-Tay-Toe, Po-Tah-Toe.

    Great piece!

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