The cold metal shopping cart shone silently in our waiting headlights. It sat next to the other abandoned shopping carts like a makeshift wall preventing me from pulling forward out of my parking space. We were at Walmart. The parking lot was littered with abandoned shopping carts. Millions of slowly drifting metal cages on wheels. This one stared back at me with a mocking metal toothed grin while I waited for Clara to buckle herself into the backseat.

“Look, Clara. Someone didn’t take their cart back inside.” I pointed. “If they had taken their cart in someone else could have parked there, or we could have pulled out that way instead of having to back up.”

She made a frustrated noise. “That’s not very nice. They shouldn’t have been so selfish and should have thought about someone else, like us.”

I nodded and turned in my seat to face her, “Ah. Yes. But maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to be selfish either, and think about them instead. Can you think of any reason why someone wouldn’t have been able to easily take the cart back?”

She was quiet for a few seconds and squinted thoughtfully at the frosted shopping cart. Finally she responded, “Okay. I can think of a pretty good reason. Maybe it was a mother with something, like, 45 kids. And she got to the car and unloaded their things, but her kids were all crying and she was really tired, so she couldn’t take the cart back.”

I smiled. “Yes. Exactly. And aren’t we happy to back out of our parking space so that she didn’t have to leave her 45 children crying in the car.” I looked at the other carts. “How about these other carts? Why do you think people didn’t take them back?”

She thought again for a moment, “Probably they were just lazy and didn’t care.”

“Yeah, I bet you’re right.” I popped the car in reverse and started towards home.

So, there you go. Unless you have something like 45 screaming children you have no excuse for not walking your cart back to the store.