Thursday, April 2, 2009

On My Soapbox

I was at Costco the other day, rolling my cart past the take and bake pizzas with my eyes firmly planted on the lady handing out samples of lobster spread when I heard a muffled crash behind me. I turned my head to find a sea of strawberries rolling my way. My initial reaction was to keep walking toward the loster spread, but the guilt got to me and I turned my enormous cart around to help the shopper who single handedly took out about 20 Costco-size containers of strawberries (read: enough to feed the state of Rhode Island). As I turned, I saw the woman who caused the accident pull her cart back (squishing a few strawberries in the process) and continue on her merry way toward the walk-in freezer as if nothing had happened; as if she had not plowed her cart into a tower of strawberries and left a disaster in her wake.

Oh, no you di'nt! Oh, yes, she did.

I stood there watching as the prima donna strolled into the freezer untroubled by her decision to leave the scene of the accident. She inspected the carrots and the organic pre-cut apple slices and the spinach with not so much as a single glance in the direction of the wreckage. As I bent down to pick up the bruised strawberries, two Costco employees appeared and took control of the clean up while I kept my eyes glued on the offender to see if she would come to her senses and own up to her mistake. Nope, didn't happen.

When she finally emerged from the walk-in freezer, I met her eyes with an icy stare and if looks could kill, well, she would have met the same fate as the squashed berries . But that didn't stop her from staring right back at me and ask, "Is there a problem?" Oh, no you di'nt! Oh, yes, she did. So I stood up, looked her in the eyes and said, "You tell you have a problem with this?" She didn't say a word; she stared at me for a second more and went about her business.

I bet she hasn't given it a second thought, while I, on the other hand, have been obsessing. How does someone walk away from something they were responsible for as if it didn't happen? And worst of all, leave others to clean up the mess? The Costco employees didn't seem fazed by our stare down and verbal exchange. In fact, they barely acknowledged it. I was fuming, but they didn't utter a single disparaging word. They told me that it happens all the time and that they are used to it. "But most people acknowledge the accident, right? I mean, most people don't just plow into a display and then keep going, do they?" Apparently they do. The two gentleman assured me that most of the spills they clean up are discovered by other employees; rarely does anybody own up and admit to a spillage.

Now I'm going to take my Costco experience and start jumping to all sorts of conclusions, so bear with me. I think the shopper's lack of responsibility is indicative of a trend in our society: not enough people are owning up to their mistakes and taking responsibility for their actions (or lack thereof). And many more are far too comfortable letting others clean up after them. I realize it's easier to place blame on others, or on circumstances and on conditions rather than blaming oneself.

Can you imagine a world where everybody took their responsibilty seriously? I'm talking about social responsibility, financial responsibility, personal health responsibility, parental responsibility....if everybody stepped up to the plate and acted responsibily...the world would be a much better place. That's my new wish for more wishing for peace on earth, now I'm all about responsibility on earth. It will cover the peace thing and then some. Not sure how we get people to act responsibly, but it's a worthy cause and I'm going to take it more seriously from now on.

I keep daydreaming about what I would say to that woman if she confronted me again with, "Is there a problem?" I might say, "Yes, there is a acted irresponsibly when you walked away from this mess. I understand it was an accident, but you are still responsible for it." But I wonder if it would sink in. Would it really matter? I've been lecturing my kids about responsibility for years and it still hasn't sunk in. But I'm hoping by the time they are old enough to shop the produce section at Costco, they will have learned a thing or two about responsibility. If I've told them once, I've told them a thousand times: mistakes are inevitable, but as long as you own up to them, fix them and learn from them, you're alright in my book.

I'll get off of my soapbox now....


Anonymous said...

It's another sign of the times just like when a person does not acknowledge you when you hold the door open for them. Typically, I say "You're welcome" in a voice loud enough for them to hear. Still, many don't hear or pretend not to hear.

Another thing that bothers me is when drivers don't acknowledge
when you let them into traffic as they come out of a parking lot. That's stopped me from letting some people, especially of a particular persuation, in front of me.

Personally speaking, the older I get the worse things of this nature bother me. I'm finding in such situations I tend to speak my mind rather than "taking it" as I would have done years ago.

Anonymous said...

You nailed it, Laurie. No one wants to be responsible anymore. I would be mortified if I witnessed something like this, too. I believe in Kharma and I believe the universe will pay this thoughtless woman back. Probably when she least expects it because clearly she's not paying attention.

Anonymous said...


sincou said...

Maybe as punishment, society should banish her to a strawberry field . . . forever.

Anonymous said...

Well sometimes the stores do put things in precarious positions. I think nothing should be freestanding or on the floor but thats just me.