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Re Porter - Bad members of society
bethany porter

I imagine we all consider ourselves to be good people. No one likes to think of themselves as a bad person, at least no normal people do. Did you know there is a simple theory that will determine an individual’s moral character? A simple test that I bet most people miserably fail.

The shopping cart theory suggests that an individual’s moral character can be determined by whether they choose to return a shopping cart to its designated spot or not. We all know that returning the cart is the right thing to do. It is a fairly easy task, but it is not illegal to not return the cart. The cart presents itself as the prime example of will a person do what is right without being forced to do it. 

What does it say about someone who chooses not to do the right thing just because no one is forcing them? According to this theory, it means they are a bad member of society. Can you imagine not doing simple, daily, necessary tasks just because it wasn’t illegal not to do them?

For instance I went to the restroom at work the other day and to my surprise, there was not any toilet paper. There really isn’t a more humbling experience than being without toilet paper, but I won’t get into that. The toilet paper dispenser in question requires a key to open it and knowledge of where the extra rolls are to replace it. After my unfortunate experience, I simply walked to the office, asked for the key, got the paper, and replaced it. It took less than two minutes! Could I have left the next person high and dry (literally)? Yes, but I knew it was wrong. 

Unfortunately not replacing toilet paper is not illegal and I will never know who did me wrong, but hopefully the next person who came in had a better experience. 

That example is also comparable to people who absolutely demolish stores. Is it illegal to leave items all over the store and not return them to their rightful place? No, but it is rude. Is it really a burden to pick up a shoe box off the floor, put the shoe back in it, and place it on the shelf? I think no, but apparently some do. 

I once watched a woman open a shoe box, try on the shoe, take the shoe off, and set the shoe on top of the box, and walk away! Putting the shoe back in the box literally would have taken two seconds. 

The shopping cart theory can really tell you a lot about yourself and those around you. Luckily there are those who pass the shopping cart test otherwise I imagine society would fall apart. It sounds dramatic and it is, but think about how many tasks that are done not out of force but out of necessity. 

It is funny to think that the fate of society could rest on one’s decision to return a shopping cart or not. 

Standard reporter Bethany Porter can be reached at 473-2191.