Monday, April 27, 2009

The softer side of shopping carts

When I was a kid, my friends and I used to abuse shopping carts mercilessly. We'd take them from the nearby Jewel-Osco parking lot back to our apartment complex and use them to haul baseball equipment or fort-building materials, to ride around in or sometimes just crash them into each other (if you've never done this, I have to tell you they make the most spectacular noise; try to imagine cars constructed entirely out of cymbals colliding at 60 mph). Now that I'm an adult, I no longer treat other people's property in such an irresponsible manner. But those carts are expensive and it's still a big problem for stores who have to tactfully find a way to ask their patrons not to steal or otherwise tear them up.

Here's a very nicely worded notice from the folks at K-Mart. Read between the lines and it says "Here. Go ahead and take one of our carts to haul your stuff around. We don't mind. We bought them for you to use. One thing though; is it too much to ask that you not be a dick and leave it here, in one piece, when you're done with it, please? Thanks."

Sweetbay supermarket has taken a different approach. They know that we love anthropromorphisizing things, most notably pigs, who, if you believe barbecue restaurant signage, are absolutely delighted with the idea of us eating their charred flesh:
"Eat me!"
So Sweetbay wants to appeal to your sense of empathy...for shopping carts. They want you to know that shopping carts are sensitive. They want you to know that shopping carts have needs and desires, just like us. So treat them the way you would want to be treated. Don't do it for us, they say, do it for the carts!
Their sense of purpose...

Their fragile psyches...

Their passion for participating in activities...

And their yearning for something, anything (well, mostly groceries) to fill the aching, empty void inside of them.

Sound like anybody you know?

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