Quickies: Why People Don’t Return Shopping Carts; Vintage Vampire-Killing Kits; and the Privilege of Buying in Bulk

  • Follow-Up: The Reasons People Don’t Return Their Shopping Carts – “It seemed like a simple question: Why don’t people return their shopping carts? It turned into a full discussion in many corners of the web. Shopping carts are pervasive, and it turns out we have a relatively nuanced relationship with them. Many of the responses fell in line with the original categories but revealed complicated assessments of morality, civility, and economics.”
  • The Privilege of Buying 36 Rolls of Toilet Paper at Once – ” ‘One of the great ironies in modern America,’ writes Mehrsa Baradaran in her 2015 book How the Other Half Banks, ‘is that the less money you have, the more you pay to use it.’ “
  • Does it Even Matter if These Vintage Vampire-Killing Kits Are Real? – “Keeping these invented artifacts on view nonetheless has scholarly value, Ferguson says; they represent the public’s enduring gothic fascination with ‘supernatural creatures and the means to defeat them.’ “
  • The Last Person You’d Expect to Die in Childbirth – “The U.S. has the worst rate of maternal deaths in the developed world, and 60 percent are preventable. The death of Lauren Bloomstein, a neonatal nurse, in the hospital where she worked illustrates a profound disparity: The health care system focuses on babies but often ignores their mothers.”
  • 6 Ways My Parents Unintentionally Taught Me Disordered Eating – “My eating disorder was a coping mechanism to deal with the disempowerment I felt in my household, the constant criticism I received from my parents, the anxiety and depression I was innately prone to, and the sexualization my body received before I was even a fully sexual being, to name a few things. But it was also about the toxic messages I’d received around food and weight. These messages came from the media, my peers, and, perhaps most influentially, my parents. They were many and varied, but they all stemmed from and encouraged fatphobia – the idea that fat is bad and fat people are below thin people.”

Featured Image


Mary Brock works as an Immunology scientist by day and takes care of a pink-loving princess child by night. She likes cloudy days, crafting, cooking, and Fall weather in New England.

Related Articles


  1. On shopping carts, don’t forget the third category: Thieves. You’d be surprised how many people steal shopping carts, especially from mom and pop places and small regional chains that don’t really have the latest theft-prevention technology. Obviously, people aren’t stealing shopping carts just to have a shopping cart handy. Mostly they steal them to carry their stuff home or to the bus stop or train station.

    Interesting from the Atlantic, even if their editor is a big apologist for income disparity. (I can’t help but think Florida’s “creative class” is a return to eugenics, but with the added fun of upending the entire urban planning formula so that now things like yoga studios and opera houses drive economic growth, rather than the other way around.)

  2. Mary,

    As for the question as to whether or not those vampire killing kits being real, it does kind of matter, since I think they would be worth more if they were to turn out to be real historical artifacts. Off course they wouldn’t matter if you bought one hoping to be able to use one to defend yourself against a vampire, because thankfully they’re not real.

  3. Pro tip: the wire baskets on wheels that most people call shopping carts are technically known as “carriages”.

    When I was a bagger, we were supposed to ask all* customers if they wanted assistance with taking their bags to their car. If they said yes**, we were supposed to gather up any nearby carriages and bring them back to the store*** when we returned. This was never sufficient, especially on busy days, so when the supply of carriages near the front door ran low, someone was assigned the task of “making a carriage run”****, i.e. traversing the parking lot and bringing in all the carriages. Of course, it was much easier to retrieve the carriages from the corrals than those randomly strewn across the lot.

    [*] Politeness. You could usually tell which customers might need and want assistance, but it would have been impolite to call attention to perceived disabilities by only asking those customers, and you might easily fail to ask someone who needed assistance, so the policy was to ask everyone.
    [**] Relatively rare, maybe once or twice an hour someone would accept the offer.*****
    [***] Procedures were more complicated if it was raining or snowing. If possible, the freshly retrieved carriages were supposed to be parked outside under the long awning in front of the store to allow the rain or snow to drip off them and dry (or drier) carriages that had been parked under the awning for a while should be brought inside first. Wet or snowy carriages really made a mess in the store.
    [****] Once, on an atypically warm, but very quiet December afternoon, I was sent around the outer edge of the lot to retrieve any carriages that had gone over the edge and landed in the bushes or swamp near by. I found about 10 of them, and the manager was very happy because they were worth about $500 each in 1970 dollars.
    [*****] We weren’t supposed to ask for tips, but could accept them if offered. Typically, 25 cents per carriage. When you were making $1.88/hour, this was a nice bonus!

    1. I worked as a ‘cart attendant’ in the mid eighties, were my main job was returning carts, plus store cleaning/ maintenance, in addition to every other task that popped up. It was a pretty busy Target, so there was a lot of corralling carts. (We called them carts).

      I never really got annoyed at having to collect from between cars, except for the parents who would have 8-12 year old kids riding, and no merchandise. This happens a lot more than you might think. Little kids I can understand. Grown kids?

      But the store never got around to getting me a rope to be able to stop the front cart, and when a line of 30 carts gets moving its like a train. I had many close calls with people and cars not paying attention or racing to beat me. One lady suddenly sprinted with her baby carriage right in front of me. The carriage literally scraped against the front cart.

      As for asking customers if they need assistance, I understand the policy. But I used to frequent one place that would ask if I need assistance every time I bought a candy bar or soda.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top button