Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Abandoned Shopping Carts And Accountability

A discussion about abandoned shopping carts broke out during a Saturday morning meeting of Durham’s PAC 3 (Partners Against Crime.) It touched on what shopping center owners can do, what stores should do, what Durham Area Transit should do and what the City does do.

As a progressively leaning Independent, I can tell you one thing about discussions like this that drives a majority of Americans crazy. Those who spoke up with ideas made nothing but excuses for the people who remove the carts and leave them abandoned. There was no personal or individual responsibility or accountability noted. It was all about institutions and agencies and the businesses that are victimized.carts

Any store or shopping center with security knows exactly who is taking the carts and judging by where many of the abandoned carts are found, I bet a study of these individuals will find that a sense “entitlement” and disregard for private property as much as “need” drives the misuse of the carts.

  • Forgetting a personal cart is no excuse for taking the store’s cart and not returning it.

  • Taking carts for any reason such as something to turn upside down and sit on while waiting for the bus as one observer noted is no excuse for walking by the same cart on return trips without returning them to the store.

Regardless of your life experience, there is absolutely no excuse for taking store property or abandoning it. And as a society we need to not only hold people accountable but to stop making so many excuses for bad behavior.

Agencies should continue to look for “human nature” solutions like the Parks Department did by placing DogiPot Pet Waste Stations in parks for dog walkers who forget or run short of bags with which to properly dispose of waste. I assume It isn’t a service for dog walkers as much as a means to protect the water supply and public health.

Stores should look for solutions such as wireless wheel locks or working with DATA to incorporate cart collection stations at bus stops but it is also possible to continue to be a caring community and still hold people personally accountable for their actions. We all witness behaviors like this every day in public, but how many people, including myself shy away from saying something just because would-be entitled people can be very unpleasant when confronted.

The sooner we start speaking up, though, the sooner these behaviors will change. If it takes a village to raise a child then it takes a village to help a would-be “entitled” adult grow up.

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