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May 1, 2013 / paulio10

Smashed Lids and Shopping Carts in the New World

Crushed Lids

In a fast food restaurant, you go to get a lid for your drink.
The lids are all jammed together.  It’s happened many times.
One person encounters this – struggles to get the top lid off, ends up tearing the lid and throwing it away; they have to tear another one off, which works but is bend up.
It’s frustrating for them, because their fumbling, and it’s obvious that someone else intentionally screwed this up.
If they get frustrated enough they might complain to an employee, but it’s not the employee’s job to deal with that, the employee didn’t cause it; it’s just another stupid complaint from a customer that makes the employee’s life even worse than it already was before.
And, the customer doesn’t feel any better after complaining, because nothing is solved. The customer didn’t know who did it, but they sure complained about it.
Nobody fixes the problem.
Every single person (like 10 or 15 people), one per lid, have to deal with the same aggravation.

The manager of the restaurant doesn’t even know it’s happening. He also doesn’t care; there’s nothing he can do about that.

The person who caused the problem was a couple of teenage punks who were showing off to each other a few minutes before. When nobody was looking, one of them mashed down on the lids with his hand, crushing the set to about half the height they previously were; both kids laugh and run off to their seat, looking for the next source of entertainment.
They derive excitement and camradery for making life painful for other people.
They don’t even stick around long enough to see people struggle with it; the moment is gone, they’re off and running.

This is not the world I want to live in.

How It Should Have Happened

Here’s how this should have gone down; here’s how the future will be.

The young person shows off by crushing the lids, and they know what’s going to happen (frustration for people).  They think it’s funny, they leave.

The next person comes along and tries to get a lid, struggles with it, and knows what to do next.
They clearly sees what went on in the past and why. Why it’s not a big issue, it’s OK, funny almost.
There’s no reason to get upset.
They grab the whole stack of lids and pull the bottom one off – they figured out years ago that it’s much easier to pull the bottom one off than the top one, because the bottom one is sticking out more, the rim is a kind of “handle” to pull on.

Your Mind Can Ease Your Life

You have to use your mind to figure out things like this.
Your mind says “all the lids look crushed”.  But there’s only so many lids here; there has to be a bottom lid.  If three come off the bottom, them put down the stack and hold onto the three, and pull the bottom one off that.  Repeat until you’re holding a single lid.
You probably don’t think of that the first time it happens, but you realize it after dealing with the situation 2 or 3 times; or having some time to ponder what would have made that a more graceful experience.  You can be more dextrous than just standing there lame and confused.

You can also wash your hands ahead of time, and not handle a stack of lids that will be used by many people, without having done so, out of kindness and compassion for your fellow people.  Even if you won’t wash your hands for yourself, you might want to wash them for everybody around you.

That next person comes up and sees the chunk-of-crushed-together-lids – and he knows what to do.  He thinks to himself:
“This is an opportunity. This is a chance to help my community. I want all the people who come here after me to NOT have to deal with the lid-catastrophe that I have to face now. It is my service and my duty and my pride to fix this problem, and it only takes 15-20 seconds of my time to avoid buckets and buckets of emotional pain for many, many people who come after me.

So they stand there, pulling them apart one by one, carefully, and placing them carefully, unjamming every single one. Lastly they take one off the top of the stack for their drink, and go on their way.

Maybe that was you.  You just provided a community service. You don’t get any credit for that in the physical world, except that it makes you feel happy and joyful, something you cannot buy with any amount of money in the physical world.

You know how to handle this sort of thing because when you were growing up you were educated in a school system that doesn’t exist today.  You learned that service for humanity is a great thing.  It doesn’t have to be large, it can be small, like uncrushing a bunch of plastic lids during your lunch break. It helps society, and it’s good for you. It creates health and happiness to do these things.

You can feel joy from helping people even in little ways like this. And, if that’s not enough for you, why don’t you sit down near the cups-and-lids area to eat your meal, so you can see what happens with the next 20 customers? Every time someone grabs a lid off that stack, you can enjoy the fact that they succeeded easily – they didn’t get irate – the didn’t fumble and fiddle and destroy lids by accident and curse out the employee who doesn’t deserve it.  The thing they expected to do (pick up a lid) they achieved in the time frame they expected to!

And they have no idea that you helped them just a few moments earlier.

You can enjoy that!  Why shouldn’t you?

Future Society thru Education

In the future society, most people will not be the teenager that smashed down the cups.  They will understand at an earlier age that hurting other people hurts you, it’s not worth the microscopic excitement you might feel temporarily.  Or if they are, there is a checks and balances system – the other adults in the room have been trained to be more aware of their surroundings, to look past themselves fairly at the other people and items in the room.

2 or 3 adults notice the teenagers goofing around, smashing the lids together. But they don’t stop them, they let them have their fun for the moment.  They know that just because you witnessed something irritating but harmless, it does not mean they have to jump in and make an ass of themselves, to “put a stop to it” because they don’t agree with it.  They remember being teenagers in the past; and now they know they can play a different role as an adult. Perhaps secretively un-smashing the lids to remedy the situation.

Adults will be taught a vast array of techniques to handle any situation like this in the future.   A thousand different things can be done, and they will ponder a variety of ways they can handle the next few minutes of this situation, and they can see who would play which roles.

Maybe the adult goes over and talks to the boys and says, “hey I saw what you did there, that’s pretty funny (smiling).  But now I want you to sit here for the next half-hour and watch everyone struggling to get a cup. It will be funny.  I want you to see their frustration, and feel it with them.  But whatever you do, don’t fix the cups; I just want you to observe what happens.  Then think to yourself: have you ever been frustrated by something out of your control like that in your life?  What if your past frustration was caused by a person?  It would feel like a personal attack, wouldn’t it.

What if your life, right now, didn’t have the level of frustration that you have today? What if you had the power to remove frustration from someone else, who was just thinking this very same thing to themselves?

The next time you are frustrated in your life, I want you to think back on this restaurant and see if your frustration and their frustration correlate in some way.  How are they similar, how are they different?  And think: was there someone who could have saved me from this frustration?  Who? Where are they?  When and how could they have acted, to remove my frustration?  And, what would it be like if I were doing their job?  Could I fix a frustration like that for someone?  How would I do that?

By not ruining experiences for other people, I realize that I will not have experiences ruined for me.

That’s the bottom line.  This is a deep truth in life.

Two Things Tied Together

The same mechanism that causes you to want to stop ruining experiences for others – that same set of actions, happenings, thoughts, and feelings can occur to other people, too – guiding them to not create frustration for other people.  Maybe you will save them frustration and they will save you frustration.

The two actions are DIRECTLY tied together – you hurting others, others hurting you.

In the future world you won’t see trash on the ground very often.  Everybody who came before you walking past that point picked up 1, 2, 3, 5, 10 pieces of trash, and deposited them in the building they were walking to.  You may not even have known that a half-hour ago someone accidentally tore a trash bag and trash went everywhere, far more than they could pick up.
The last person saw only 6 pieces of trash left, so he picked them all up and threw them away.  Nobody said anything, nobody got acknowledgement for their service, and nobody looked for kudos. It’s just the thing everyone does, it’s not a big deal.

All that matters is – by the time you got there, there was no trash on the ground, and you have no idea what transpired not so very long ago in that exact same spot.
If you had seen a piece of trash, you would have picked it up, because that’s how you’ve been trained, just like everyone else.

Shopping Carts

The shopping carts don’t need to pile up in the parking lot of the grocery store. When you get out of your car you grab a cart from the parking lot on your way into the store, even if you have to walk a couple isles away to get one; this adds maybe an extra 10 seconds to your shopping trip.  You can shop with that cart if you want; maybe you don’t need one because you’re only buying 2 items.  So you just push it to the cart-storage-area near the front of the store.

But maybe you do need a shopping cart in the store. You can use this cart.  If it has a horribly wobbly wheel, you will discover that between the parking lot and the store, so you can exchange it at the front of the store for a different one!  Now you have a lower chance of having to shop with a wobbly-wheel-cart, because you got to test-drive one before going inside.

When you’re done shopping, push your cart to your car, unload it, and return the cart back to the cart-area at the front of the store.  Yes, you walked back to the front of the store, and back to your car for the second time.  This only adds another 30-40 seconds to your shopping trip.

And, miracle of miracles, if everyone did this, there would RARELY be any carts in the parking lot for you to return.  Maybe a handicapped person, or an elderly person was unable to return their cart the way everyone else in society does; but that’s OK.  The next person arriving at the grocery store will happily push it to the front of the store when they see it sitting in the parking lot.

If a mad rush happens at the store, all of the parking spots will be available for customer parking; none are blocked by stray carts.

In Arizona, it’s not right to make a grocery store employee spend a half-hour retrieving carts in the 120 degree fahrenheit blinding sun; it’s juch better for everyone if each customer simply pushes 1 cart back to the store, when they see it in the parking lot.  That half-hour of extra sun is divided among a thousand separate people, rather than being focused on one poor minimum-wage employee who’s already suffering enough from reasons unrelated to shopping carts.

But Why Return Carts to the Store?

This action with the shopping carts makes sense to you, because it comes full-circle, it closes the loop:

  1. push cart front-of-store into store:  because you need to use a cart to shop
  2. push cart from store to car:  because you can’t carry 20 bags of groceries on your own
  3. push cart from car to front-of-store:  because you have to complete the loop.

No loose ends.  For the sake of completion.  You need closure.  You’re helping your fellow man.

If the store manager does not have to send an employee to do cart-roundup every 20-30 minutes, that employee can be more useful to the business doing things that actually sell products like stocking shelves, moving pallets, cleaning isles, etc.  The store, on average, can get away with 1 fewer employees.  This means 1 less paycheck of money going OUT OF the store’s business.  This means lower expenses, which is a good thing – it helps the store avoid raising prices.

A business has to raise prices when all the expenses can’t be cut any further. Their costs are probably going up over time; if expenses stay the same or go up, and their costs go up, they have no choice but to increase prices.  They have to.
By helping them trim their expenses in the little bit you’re willing to do, it helps postpone the time when they have to raise prices – maybe by a few weeks or months.  Stores don’t want to raise prices, because customers get upset; they only raise prices if they have to.

What I’m saying is, in the end, pushing shopping carts back to the store LOWERS STORE PRICES FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY.  We like lower prices of the things we buy in stores.  At least I do.

If you don’t understand or don’t believe this, you need to take some classes in business, especially basic accounting.  Learn what a Balance Sheet is and why it’s important.  Learn what an Income Statement is and how it’s different from a Balance Sheet.  Then you need to start your own small business.  Doesn’t matter whether it’s successful or not, the fact is, you’ll learn to see things from the point of view of the business – you’ll “get it”.

I’m not saying business works right today – I see many ways that it’s inherently flawed (…I should write another article perhaps).  But, this is how business works today in our society.  You owe it to yourself to understand how the world around you works, today, even if for no other reason than to understand how and why it needs to be changed and improved in the future.

And you’ll probably start pushing your shopping cart back to the grocery store before leaving, and pick up a couple of pieces of trash along the way.

Car Insurance

Same thing for car insurance.  Do you have a sneaky way to make money off your recent car accident?  I recommend not doing so!  Don’t make money off your car accident.
Cheating like that helps you, but hurts everybody else who has insurance with the same company.
Cheating like that helps only you temporarily, and hurts many people long-term.
The net gain/loss is a loss, in this case.  And that’s not even considering the legal ramifications.

In fact, your insurance rates are much higher right now because of a lot of other people who took unfair advantage like this in the past!  Don’t let yourself be part of that. Don’t lower yourself to their standard.
Don’t do it, because it feels wrong.  Don’t do it, because you understand how Karma works.
Don’t do it, because you understand how business works, and insurance is just a type of business.
Insurance has income and expenses, just like every other business.  Help them keep their expenses lower, and you’re helping yourself save money on insurance every month from now on.

    “I just saved a bunch of money on car insurance!”
    “…by switching to that one company?”
    “…no, by NOT RIPPING OFF my insurance company.  You’re welcome, by the way, because that saved you money too.”


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