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The Annoying Grocery Cart Wheel

In this blog I am often touting kindness, patience, love, forgiveness, gratitude, self-control, etc. I'm not perfect, by any means, but I believe in choosing to live these qualities. But like anyone, I have my off days, too.


The other night, Isaias and I went to a Target that was not our usual one. Isaias was looking for something specific that was supposedly available at that particular Target. I was there to get cat litter for our brood.


I happened to pick a shopping cart with a bad wheel. It was out of alignment or had a chunk missing from one of its tires, and so it made an annoying bumping sound as I wheeled it.


I did not notice this annoyance right away and had already starting putting stuff in our cart before I fully became aware of it. Had I been more observant, I would have grabbed a different cart (and in retrospect, I should have done so anyway).


If you know me, you know I prefer quiet, order, and don't particularly want to be the center of attention. This stupid wheel caused the cart to make a loud and obnoxious sound and made me feel self-conscious, annoyed, and progressively angrier.


I tried rolling the cart slower. I tried checking the wheel. I tried to just ignore the sound.


Nothing worked, and the more I pushed this infernal contraption, the more I was seething.


So I was already feeling perturbed as I shopped in the pet section for the kitty litter and discovered there was none to be found.


I've noticed the shelves of many stores, including Target, have been affected by the pandemic, with many shelves being bare. The kitty litter was not where it would normally be located.


Isaias and I asked a stock clerk if they had any, and it was abundantly clear from the very beginning of our query that he saw us as an inconvenience rather than customers he ought to help. He was very cagey about whether they might have litter in the back because it was clear he didn't want to go out of his way to look for any.


When it was clear that we weren't about to give him an easy out, he finally asked what type of litter we were looking for. I replied that we wanted Fresh Step Multi-Cat. He left to look for some and eventually came back with one box.


I said, "Is that all you have?"


He said, rather annoyed, "Oh, did you want more?"


Uh, yeah. MULTI-cat didn't tip you off?


"Yes."


He sighed.


"Can you follow me then? I don't want to keep walking back and forth."


"Sure," I said, gritting my teeth under my mask. I wouldn't want to make you do your job or anything.


Isaias at this point actually tried to say something akin to, "It's okay. We'll get it somewhere else." because he was tired of this guy and his attitude.


But I wasn't having it. No, I thought. This guy is going to get that litter. In fact, I was even more determined to make him work because he was so unwilling to.


We ended up getting three boxes of litter. I wouldn't be surprised if the guy was lying when he said that was all they had. And then he immediately went to chit-chat with two other workers who were just as lackadaisical as he was being.


It aggravated me. And now I was pushing this irksome cart again.


BUMP. BUMP. BUMP. BUMP. BUMP.


As Isaias and I checked out and took the cart to our van, I suddenly was aware of how curmudgeonly I sounded.


"I feel like there are so many of these kids today that don't seem to have any work ethic. They just want to coast through life."


We had recently just had a conversation with an 83 year-old friend who was talking about his own work history, and I thought about my parents' generation, my grandparents' generation, and beyond and recognized that many of the generations who have followed, including my own, just don't really know what it is to work hard.


I freely admit I am not accustomed to doing the same sort of labor the people I have descended from have, but I feel like each succeeding generation gets worse. Not everybody, mind you, but certain factions of the young seem to have this "instant gratification, give up if it's too hard" mentality.


I remember when I was teaching college, I was amazed and disheartened to see how many students had this air of entitlement that made them act as if they didn't have to put in the work to pass my class. Mind you, this was a pretty easy class, but there were always those who seemed genuinely surprised to not be passing the class when they hadn't done their assignments or put forth the effort to do so.


Anyway, that was the vibe I got from this young man whose job it was to actually help the customers he seemed so put out by.


But I think what I learned most of all about this experience is that if you have a shopping cart with a bad wheel, just get a new one.


And really, isn't that a good lesson for life? If something isn't working for you, throw it out and replace with it with something that does. Don't try to go through life with a metaphorical shopping cart that is only causing you grief, annoyance, and frustration. If you have a bad relationship, a bad habit, a bad attitude, a bad direction, etc. and you know it's not going to get better unless you change it, let it go and stop trying to pretend it's not causing you angst.


You'll be much happier. I know I would have been.

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