Where did it all go wrong?

There was a time, surely, when a small but considered intervention might have changed the course of events.  A moment when someone might have acted.

Yet no one did.

Who was the first who might have made it right, and why didn’t they act?

There is, of course, no answer. As I survey the damage, I am left, instead, with even more questions.

The situation was, of course, long past the point where even the most unrepentant optimist would have accepted the futility of trying to do something, but in the early stages, how many failed to act? Back at the beginning, did anyone even hesitate?

Did anyone stop long enough to calculate that the odds were in their favour? That there were steadily diminishing odds of later arrivals taking action, given the increasing effort involved?

Did anyone realize what a priceless and ephemeral opportunity lay in their hands: the opportunity to right the situation at low cost to themselves, yet with incalculable benefit to all who came after?

Bemused, I shake my head.

Did they hold back because they doubted their ability to fix it? Surely not! Rocket science it ain’t.

Did they hold back because they saw it as someone else’s job? Or out of a disinclination to interfere in something that was not their business? Or out of fear of being seen as ridiculous?

These reasons I could understand.

But it was more than failing to fix it: Each, in turn, made it worse. And as each made that choice to contribute their mite to the mess, what were they thinking? Were they oblivious or uncaring? Distressed or diffident?  Lazy or unsure?

Or were they, in fact, not thinking at all? Did they walk away without a first thought, much less a second?

And the passers-by — the ones who added nothing but fixed nothing either — What of them? Did they even consider stepping up: grabbing an opportunity to correct something that was clearly wrong, even though it just as clearly wasn’t their fault?

I lower my camera, shake my head again, and walk away, leaving it all as I found it.

Where did it all go wrong?


Jumble of shopping carts in a parking lot.


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10 Responses to Where

  1. We have all the time in the world, it seems, in our leisurely looking-over of goods we want or may want to purchase — but — at checkout it’s different: we are impatient to get going, what’s taking that check-out person so frigging long? what?!? a call for a price check? Jeeeesus! Why can’t people just do their jobs!

    So, I guess that impatience applies to carts: most of the time you’re not the first person to roll his cart into the “slot” — and if you’re not, it’s often the devil of a job to get one’s cart to mesh perfectly with the one(s) already there (especially in icy/snowy winter).

    And, remember this, those messy cart problems are somebody else’s rice bowl.

    Plus, be glad most carts are in that holding pen, not just left beside cars or in the lane ways.

    Plus — getting them properly lined up has been tried. Back in the day one needed a quarter to release a cart, and to get your money back, you had to release it on return (lined up or the little chain would not reach). Why was that abandoned? Cause if there was one chain that didn’t require quarters, they won business. When a grocery store works on a profit market of 1%, let the mart hold be messy, just come in the store next time. Please!

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barbara – There was a certain “good enough” quality to the drop-offs – sort of pushing it in the general direction of the cart pen and figuring someone else would take care of it. Which, of course, they would and did.

  2. Tom Watson says:

    This is, indeed, a premeditated shambles! This likely started by one person leaving their cart in the middle of a parking space and a whole gang of others followed suit. Likely the cart area was just a few feet away too.

    I see this quite often in local lots but generally with only one or two carts, not, like my grandmother used to say, forty-leven!

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Tom – And where were the paid cart jockeys, one might ask? Maybe taking forty-leven winks!

  3. Jim Taylor says:

    Lovely zoom effect… I tend to work in the opposite direction, starting with the close up and pulling back to move towards a universal perspective; you went from seemingly universal to the specific close up. When I first started reading, I wondered if you were dealing with the U.S. elections. Or with the refugee crisis. Or global warming. Or Jian Ghomeshi. Nope, shopping carts. But the message could apply to those other situations too. Maybe, if someone had done something at the right time, the outcome might also have been different.
    Jim T

  4. Paul Coffman says:

    Funny, funny, funny!

  5. Marion says:

    I thought it was all about Trump, actually.

    As for the carts, I know a few people who, even if only passing by, would be driven to ‘tidy it up’.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Marion – Well, it’s about all those situations. I sometimes try to clean up carts left askew, but they’re heavy!

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