Being Polite Is Free. Do More Of It.


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Earlier today I ran out to get some food and drinks for a client who was coming into my office. When I came back outside into the parking lot I noticed my car (It’s for sale by the way!) had two shopping carts next to it. Like, right next to it.

Naturally, I posted a photo on Facebook:

The conversation quickly swerved in the direction of an almost accusatory tone towards me, that I was frustrated with other people for leaving their carts in the middle of the parking lot but it was “doubtful” that I put my own carts back, since “nobody does it.”

I had, in fact, put my shopping cart back right before I walked outside and taken this photo. What else was I going to do with it? Leave it in the middle of nowhere? No.

I began to realize, this isn’t about shopping carts at all.


No, this…this was about the way that people treat each other, and are aware of each other, on a daily basis.

Sure, it’s easier to leave your shopping cart in the middle of the parking lot, because “someone will move it.”

It’s easier to leave that piece of trash on the ground because “someone will pick it up.”

It’s easier to leave your dirty dishes scattered around the restaurant table instead of consolidating everything because “they have people for that.”

But, do we ever stop and think about those people?


What if the person who had to go get your shopping cart has a second job as a waiter or waitress, and ended up working at the same restaurant you and your family went to that night? What if they were in a bad mood and already frustrated with people in general, and gave you terrible service?

What if the person who had to clean up everyone’s trash at the stadium after the game ended up there later than usual and missed out on seeing a loved one, or important plans?

What if, doing your small part, requiring nearly zero extra effort, was enough to restore someone’s faith in people just when they had lost all of it?


Even more so – what if the person who is stuck dealing with rude people is your brother, sister, daughter, son, mother, father, boyfriend, girlfriend, or…you.

Would you treat them with more respect?

So, why not do it now?

Being polite is free. Do more of it.

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  1. chambers935 on September 13, 2013 at 8:06 am

    I really enjoyed this article and the direction you went especially at the end. sometimes( maybe lots of times) we don’t ever think of the little things we do that could be having bigger impact on others that we may never even meet. I found it very interesting. But I must confess that just yesterday I did leave my cart in the middle of the parking lot as I was it was hot and I was in a rush, (I know it’s too easy to justify actions to yourself at the time with excuses like that) but that was a rare occasion for me as I most usually always put them back. Also I’m definitely one of those people cleaning up/ consolidating my table as much I can before leaving it for the server to take away and sometimes I feel awkward when no one else I’m eating with chooses to do the same

  2. nan greer on September 17, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    Hi James, Please, would it be possible for you to add social share links to your blog when they are delivered to my email so that I can easily share and comment? Thank you, Nan

    To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also DREAM not only plan, but also BELIEVE

    Nan Greer 824 Bay Road South Hamilton 978.468.7177 Home 978.764.7147 Mobile


  3. […] an earlier post, I discussed how being polite is free, and you should do more of it. But, Kris’s video really got me thinking, there must be so many small, simple things you can […]

  4. abel on February 1, 2014 at 1:28 am

    i agree at all

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