One Less Thing

My wife and I went grocery shopping with Bump on Monday and as I was loading our bags into the car I heard a mom say to her child, “OK, let’s take the cart back!” We were at Trader Joe’s, which is an awesome store with a terrifying parking lot, so I peaked around the woman’s car and said, “Oh, I’ll take that back for you, no problem.”

Now, look, this woman could have taken her two carts back just fine, I’m certain. But she was lugging around a toddler and was really pregnant. As I was getting ready to take my own cart back, I would have felt like a complete jerk following her across the parking lot of terror back to the cart return without offering to lend a hand. So I steered three carts back home 1 and then checked in on my wife, who had found a shaded picnic table where she could feed Bump. When I got within speaking distance she said, “I was going to tell you to help her, I’m glad you did.” Then she pointed to a orphaned cart next to the table and added, “Why don’t you take that back, too?” I nodded and took the cart back to it’s home, offering it to someone who was coming into the store as they passed.

Nothing I did was any big deal. Really, it’s the type of stuff any of us should do when the opportunity arises. But as I made my second trip back to the cart corral, imagining myself as a Trader Joe’s volunteer staff member, I thought to myself, “Well, that’s one less thing for someone else to do.”

I think that’s how I try to live my life. I go through my days, and whenever I can I try to make one less thing for someone else to do. I don’t tend to make huge splashes, but if something I do makes someone’s day a bit better I feel I’ve lived well. For me, making one less thing for someone else to do is where community life and engagement begins – it’s the starting point from which we are able to tackle the big issues of our day. Without this base, we tend not to recognize others as our neighbor, and the end results are not pretty.


  1. She had two, I think she was trying to take an abandoned cart back.