Welcome to the rest of the world! Well at least Germany and South Korea because those are the two places that I have been where people get their cart in the parking lot and bring it to the store themselves. Not only do they actually get their own cart but they also have to pay to use the cart. Carts here in Germany, and it was the same in South Korea, are chained together one to the next. When you want to use the cart you insert a 1 Euro coin into the handle and the chain releases so you can use the cart.
Now here's the good news.....when you return it to the cart area in the parking lot, you get your Euro back! Now at first this was a little odd to me but not something that I was opposed to. I actually like that there are always carts in the right place, and so far I have NEVER found a cart that had some trash in it from the person before. That is a serious issue for me - why oh why do people feel like it's ok to leave their trash in the carts? Seriously. Another nice thing about this system for the carts is that they are covered in the parking lot. You don't have to worry about your cart being all wet or hot, they have a cover over them to keep them as nice as possible.
Now the only real issue I have ever had with this system was when we first got here and I didn't have a 1 Euro coin. The first time this happened to us I had to get change, I had a 2 Euro coin in my purse, and then get my cart. Now I have a 1E in the pocket of all my coats, I call them my cart Euros, and I use them for carts only and then they go back into the pocket for next time. I know, I'm OCD and that's the way I like it! Now I don't have to worry about not having a 1E with me when I want to shop on the economy.
The next issue about shopping carts that I have to tell you is really annoying are the wheels. If you have ever been to an Ikea in the US you know exactly what I'm talking about. In the US the carts in stores have back wheels that are stationary and front wheels that turn. In Germany all four wheels turn, you can even push the cart side to side. This isn't as much fun as it sounds like...actually it's really irritating. They are hard to turn and go every which direction and when they are full look out because you will probably run into something or someone.
There are a few stores in the US that have this system for carts but its almost unheard of in the US. Why more stores aren't doing this I'll never understand. Now I know that if the job market for cart boys was to go away we would have thousands of unemployed teenagers with no jobs and people would have to do something for themselves but I think the US would make it though that. That's one thing I have noticed being out of the US - that in other parts of the world people actually take responsibility for themselves, its not all about having someone to do everything for you.
I just want to say that I did not take either of these pictures, they were found on the internet. But, I just noticed that this cart has some paper in it! I wonder if the person taking the picture was as crazy about other people's trash as I am or if that's their paper? lol