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I had occasion to observe some shopping trolley etiquette recently. We were parked in front of one of the trolley bays, while I grabbed a quick wrap after an IVF session. There were a few trolleys scattered in a disordered fashion, and as I was eating a burly looking man walked up with his now empty trolley and slung it into the bay with as much disdain as he could muster. At this stage there was only four or five trolleys present and it would have taken 20 seconds to sort them out, but Mr Burly clearly didn’t have time for that!

Distracted by cheap food and rich conversation with my beautiful wife, I took my eyes off the trolley park for a bit, and when I looked back it was chaos. More trolleys had been left any which way, a lady approached and tried to slot her trolley into the back of another in the correct fashion, but this made more of a mess because of the angle it was now sticking out at. It would have taken the first man seconds to order the trolleys, but by the time the lady arrived it would have been a far more time consuming task. And so no one bothered, instead happy to leave the mess. Where loads of trolleys could have been stored, only a few were. A waste of space, efficiency and time. Later on someone else would have to deal with that mess.

The thing that annoys me about this is the same thing that annoys me about someone who walks or drives past a wheelie bin that has blown into the road. I guess at its heart is laziness, but I also think there is something about selfishness and a ‘that’s someone else’s job’ attitude, maybe it’s just plain ignorance of the issue. I also think it’s a great analogy for our lives in so many ways, but the one that stands out at the moment is disagreements and differences of opinion.

Often when we have an issue or fall out with someone, we act like Mr Burly slinging our tuppence worth in willy nilly. Taking the time to sort the mess out would cost us too much, and besides we didn’t create all of the mess, we are merely adding to it. But what if Mr Burly returned to the trolley bay the next day and no one had cleared it up? What if Mr Burly wanted one of those smaller trolleys and it was blocked in by all the others? Would he then regret his actions of the previous day or would he have forgotten them and still be blaming others?

It’s a ridiculous analogy in some ways but I am concerned that we are losing our ability to handle disagreements in a mature way. These days who is right seems more important than healing relationships.

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