Mom’s viral video about not putting her shopping cart back has sparked an interesting debate

It’s a debate that’s existed as long as grocery store parking lots have: Do you take your shopping cart back to the corral or just leave it in the lot—and are you rude if you leave it? One mom is going viral for her video explaining why she doesn’t return her cart, and as you can imagine, things are pretty heated in the comments.

“I’m not returning my shopping cart and you can judge me all you want,” Dr. Leslie Dobson, a clinical and forensic psychologist from California, says at the beginning of her now-viral TikTok video, which is racking up millions of views. “I’m not getting my groceries into my car, getting my children into the car and then leaving them in the car to go return the cart.”

The comments are, understandably, a pretty mixed bag. There are people who agree with Dobson and say they aren’t comfortable leaving their kids unattended in the car, while there are others who say it’s inconsiderate to grocery store workers and other shoppers to leave carts littering the parking lot.

“My sister has 5 kids and still puts her cart in the corral,” one commenter wrote.

Another weighed in, “Small things like this is what shows character in a person. I am not a parent but even if it’s raining or snowing, I return my cart.”

“I have the worst trouble with this … the return things are ROWS away. I’m not leaving my baby in the car where I can’t see it,” another wrote.

Another added, “How did your kids get to the shopping cart safely? Did you leave them in the car alone and go get the cart? Or were they portable enough to make it without a cart?”

One pointed out, “Collecting carts is one of the few human jobs left so I leave mine in the parking lot.”

Yet another wrote, “It was never about the shopping cart. It’s about the principle. It’s about answering the question: Am I willing to take some time out of my day to do something nice for nothing in return?”

One mom wrote what she does to make sure she can return her shopping cart without having to leave her kids alone in the car: “Single mom here!! So what I do is put the groceries in the car. Leave the children in the shopping cart. Take the shopping cart back with the children. Return them back to the car.”

Another posted this very simple solution: “I park next to the cart return thingy.”

Yet another wrote, “I lock my kid in the car for all of the 20 seconds it takes me to put the cart back and walk to the car. It’s literally a few seconds of them alone in the car. Safely and locked.”

Dobson told Today that she made the video because “predators watch our patterns and routines and I wanted to give people permission to not return their carts if their intuition tells them they aren’t safe.”

She’s not entirely wrong. The nonprofit Kids and Car Safety reported that in the United States in 2022 at least 265 children were abducted during car thefts—the highest number in the 10 years of data collection provided on its website. In such circumstances, the person often doesn’t realize a child is inside the vehicle when they drive off, according to the nonprofit.

However, FBI data shows that of the thousands of minors who are reported missing each year, 0.1% are abducted by strangers.

The LA Times interviewed Dobson as well, and asked her if she returns her shopping cart when she doesn’t feel her safety is compromised, to which she answered with a laugh, “Always.”

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