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  • Writer's picturePhillip Gerson

The Call of the Corral

Just the other day at Walmart (yes, I went to Walmart in California and did not know that was possible either) I realized that all this time, ever since I was 16 years old, I had overlooked a genius plan in regards to parking.

Are you ready?

Forget about the front door's importance for a moment. About the envy of handicap spots, and confusion of charging stations, and COVID triggering effects of contactless drive-up spots.

Put all of that aside.

And think instead about that shining shopping cart storage station in the distance, more properly known as an outdoor shopping cart corral.

Yes, I know it sounds absurd. But it works.

Think about the call of the corral and get as close to it as possible.

And, I should stress, the option to do so is far from rare. I pass these rusty-ass-metal-parking-lot-eye-sores all the time. Sometimes completely deserted without a vehicle in sight. And to be honest, these things had duped me multiple times in the past thinking I was about to get a good spot, but I did not hold a grudge. In fact, looking back now, the problem was never with them. It was with me. I was distracted, on the hunt for the spot of a lifetime, and never even considered the possibilities.

Like everyone else, I'm sure, I’m always thinking the amount of steps to get to the front door. And shade. And compact car questioning. And possible break ins. But what I now know is that I should, we all should, be thinking about is the POST-shopping experience. This is not about Starbucks or organic decision making, and pull-up 5 diapers, and adapters, and start thinking about the moment when it is time to return the cart.

Especially when that moment intersects with sideways rain and a child crying for cereal with more sugar and all you want is for your shopping outing for the day to be over and then and only then...

It's time to return the cart.

You still gotta do it.

I heard once that there are 2 types of people in this world:

  1. the ones that return the shopping cart to an appropriate drop off location

  2. those who do not.

That rocked me when I encountered that societal observation.

In my 20s, I would leave those things at a 70 degree angle on a curb, in a neighboring shopping center, with a copy of HOWL on top, with a parking lot catastrophe of some sort inevitable.

In my 30s, I started to make my way back to the Corral. Usually. Placing them at the entrance of the corral or bum rushing them in from a distance,

I can say, by age 40, I was gracefully returning the cart to the Corral, with the precision of a ballerina, and all the wheels pointing in place.

And I think it helped me.

When you are facing moral dilemmas, left and right, with groceries in the car and ice cream sandwiches melting quickly and a kid's tablet that is having problems connecting...

You still take back the cart. You got to.

So why not park super close to it?

Just as a disclaimer, this recent, personal epiphany does not suggest an alliance with Walmart. I would do anything to self-checkout of Walmart forever.

This is about the Corral. It truly hold the key to what is right and what is wrong . How you will be remembered as a person. The type of parent you will be?


Anyway, that is my parking tip for this month. Let the Corral be your friend.

And yes, it is still okay to park in a killer spot by the entrance. How could you not?

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