Conversation in a parking lot:
“What are you doing?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, what are you doing?”
“I’m…taking a cart back to the corral?”
This is not an unusual occurrence, the random questions in the parking lot when someone sees me return more than one shopping cart. People seem genuinely puzzled by the idea that someone would want to return not only the cart they used but additional carts as well. It’s like it doesn’t even occur to them, so when they see me they just have to ask what I’m doing as if I’m rounding up sex partners or something else equally scandalous to the public eye.
(Hmmm…interesting idea. Note to self: explore round-up opportunities.)
I don’t think I go overboard. I put away my own cart and if I see any other random carts hanging out on my way to the corral, I put those away too. It doesn’t take long, it saves someone else the work later, and it makes the parking lot a little bit more orderly. For me, that’s what putting the carts away is – it is imposing order where it didn’t exist.
The idea didn’t begin with me; I started putting the carts away after reading this post on Everyday Theology by someone who has since become a friend of mine. I was looking for ways to uphold ma’at in everyday life and along comes this idea of ordering things as I go. It works for me, it makes me happy, and it helps me keep ma’at in the forefront of my mind. But, it apparently puzzles the people around me and I’m not sure why.
I’ll be the first to admit I’m an individualist at heart rather than a community-builder, but small acts to benefit the community have their purpose. For example, if I put away a cart that was blocking a parking space, someone can now park there without damaging their car, or sticking out too far and clogging lanes, etc. That person will now likely have a better day and, if they actually see me putting the cart away, may go on to put (at the very least) their own cart in the corral. And thus, the cycle of order continues.
Our actions have consequences, whether we can see them or no.