Eight: Cleaning Up


“If we can clean up our world, I’ll bet we can achieve warp drive.” – William Shatner

“Whatever is dirty, it is women’s job to clean up, or drive some man to clean up, and that goes for everything from cellar to senate.” – Agnes Macphail

I’ve always believed in cleaning up. Neighborhood litter clean-ups. Picking up plastic on the beach. Helping illiterate adults learn to read, write, and compute. Really, any good cause outside of cleaning my house is fair game for making this world a better place.

Grocery carts started appearing on our property a couple of months ago. I suspect someone used them to lug something and then dumped them in our yard. They were left on the roadside for a while, but then several neighbors started to use them to haul groceries into the house. We have communal carts for this purpose, but they are more difficult to push. It appeared that we were growing used to our new tools. A couple of days ago, neighbors started volleying messages about the carts and what to do with them. Several people contacted the store manager to request a pick-up, but he took absolutely no interest in the task. More calls and store visits were not persuasive enough to change his mind. So the question became whether we should just keep the carts.

Then my husband wrote an email that reminded all that these carts belonged somewhere, and to keep them was theft. He had a good point. But the carts didn’t seem to fit into anyone’s car. Didn’t someone mention they might walk them back to the store? Oh drats, I can do this. I’m trying to get exercise anyway, right? So I put out an email request to see if someone wanted to join me; this wasn’t going to be so fun if I did this on my own. I hovered over my inbox waiting for a reply. No response. I slowly got my son and I ready to go out in the rain when I received a call from the neighbor who suggested walking the carts back in the first place. She was in!

I was thankful that I wouldn’t be alone. One, I wanted the company. Two, I was kind of self-conscious about pushing a cart a long way down the road, especially on a well-used roadway. We set out on this urban adventure. The thing with Do Good activities are that they are the very best ways to get to know someone else better. I always end up in sincere conversations when I am helping others. Before I knew it, we were at the store and returning the carts. My friend asked to see the manager with whom she already had shared a heated exchange with. The manager approached us, saw my neighbor’s familiar face, and smiled. He thanked us and promptly charged up a gift card for $10.

We passed on taking the bus or getting a ride. We were on a roll and would savor the walk home. I noticed my friend picked up several pieces of litter on the way out of the shopping small. It’s hard to stop doing good once you start.


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