Going the Extra Mile…
Not exactly a novel, original and enticing thought. I don’t think it’s a stretch to agree on the general meaning of the phrase. The words imply our willingness to give something an extra, even unexpected, level of effort or dedication. A reasonably noble, if not uncommon concept. So what exactly got me thinking about this ideal? A Target™ parking lot.
Allow me to explain. So I’m leaving Target the other day after having acquired the prerequisite Valentine’s Day paraphernalia for the kid’s classroom celebrations. Quaint little cards for them to share with their classmates along with some other token of holiday cheer. In our case bubbles because I am so sick and tired of candy being the go to holiday accessory. But that’s another story. As the kids and I were walking to our car, I couldn’t help but notice that the parking lot was abundantly littered with shopping carts. They were absolutely everywhere! What gives?
Now I’m not referring to my noticing that those tidy little parking lot chutes meant to corral run-away carts were full. What caught my attention was the fact that those handy little drop zones were largely unoccupied while the rest of the parking lot was abundantly scattered with the unmistakable red carts. And all I could think to myself was, “what is wrong with people?” Is it REALLY too much to ask for you to walk twenty additional paces to put the cart where we all know it to belong? REALLY? And as we are currently living in Arizona, I can’t even rationalize this with the inclement weather excuse. It’s seventy five and sunny out people! Now if I had noticed one or two wayward carts, I can promise it would not have stirred my attention. But I stopped counting at fifty and started in thinking on what an infuriating statement this was about humanity. I know, I know, kinda heavy thinking for a Target parking lot. But I kept returning to my mental angst over the unmistakable and decidedly unpleasant statement this made. What is the statement? To put it, not so politely, it would appear that unless it is easy or convenient, most of us don’t really give a shit. We’re a bunch of slackers. Disturbingly lazy and unconcerned as a general rule.
While this might seem overly heavy on both assumptions and importance I would argue differently. Many of you have heard me profess my deep belief in the Truth that “what you are in anything, is what you are in everything.” My kids have heard this declared so many times I am certain they roll their eyes in that charming beleaguered way when I’m not watching. But it is something I believe utterly and completely. You simply cannot convince me that this isn’t profoundly true. Nobody has a house that belongs on an episode of Hoarders but runs a tidy, organized business. Nobody has a handshake agreement with honesty around friends and family but is rigidly ethical in the work place. Nobody can be void of compassion and caring for their fellow man but claim to offer this up with sincerity and abundance to their friends and family. No one can insist they are truly forgiving and genuinely accepting of others if they flog themselves with exacting judgment on a regular basis. Nobody can be a truly great guy at work and with his buddies, but go home and treat his spouse and kids with embarrassing indifference. You can’t claim to be a loyal, listening girlfriend but not hear the heart your children need and want to share. If you are honest you are honest always. If you are compassionate, you offer it to all who are deserving. If you are principled, you abide by those ideals in all times and all spaces. And if you are too lazy to walk your shopping cart to its proper destination, I can guarantee you are universally lazy about your own life and generally selfish and unconcerned with others.
I would, in fact, go so far as to say that you could very nearly write a PhD thesis on this theory. If you were to interview those people who “returned” their carts and those who just left them sitting there in the adjacent parking spot, I would be willing to throw some money on the fact that strong patterns would indeed bear themselves out. Evidence would hold that those who went the “extra mile,” or in this case the extra fifty feet to return a shopping cart, would be revealed to be the people that valued this effort and characteristic across the entirety of their life. They would prove to be more engaged, more considerate, more attentive, more aware and more financially successful by several fold.
I try valiantly to give a really wide and considerate berth to all kinds of people and personalities but I will unashamedly assert that two qualities that I simply cannot stomach under any circumstances are laziness and dishonesty. I readily admit those are two qualities I will never make allowances for in my life, or in those I surround myself with day in and day out. So I am convinced we should all live with great earnestness and regard for the fact that every single one of our choices reveal in both little and large ways something true and undeniable about each of us. The smallest actions on our part create perhaps unexpected, but undeniable ripples in our lives. None of us are perfect. But judging from the Target parking lot, many of us could try a whole lot harder.