Have you ever had your best intentions blow up in your face? A good deed? A kind gesture? Where instead of the desired outcome suddenly you’re back pedaling, trying to figure what went wrong?
I call it the ALDI Shopping Cart Effect.
The first time I went to an ALDI grocery store was when we moved to Watertown in 2005. Jennifer and I were filling our cart – enjoying shockingly low price points for our young family – when I remembered I left my wallet in the car.
I ran out and found my wallet on the seat. After I locked the car and turned to head back in, I saw a lady nearby who was just about done loading her groceries into her car.
And just like that it hit me. I’m in a new city, I’m called to serve people. Here was an easy chance: offer to return her cart to the store and save her a trip.
Don’t startle her.
“Hi M’am, I’ll take that for you.”
She looks at me, then looks down at her empty cart.
“Seriously, truth is I’m heading back inside the store anyway.”
She looks back at me. Uneasy. Still not passing the cart off.
This is not going as planned.
As if to help her along, I place a hand on the bin-side of the cart. “I totally got this.”
Finally she lets go with a “Thanks” that sounds way more like a question than a grateful reply.
Trying to shrug off the awkwardness of it all, I walk the cart back to the store and push it into all the other carts. But there’s this weird key-chain thing, and all these slots, and people fumbling with change, and–
I’m getting dizzy.
Everything’s spinning, a blur.
Then it hits me.
OK – so it wasn’t that dramatic. But I’d still stollen that woman’s quarter.
She probably thought I was a strange little chronic cart grabber who lived on the street surviving off quarters; some people ask for change at stop lights, I just take ALDI shopping carts.
Why do they have that quarter mechanism anyway? Are ALDI patrons just far more prone to throwing stainless steel shopping carts in their trunks and peeling out? Like a quarter is really going to overrule that desperate urge. Maybe its not such a safe place to shop with my family after all?
Of course then I had to face my wife which just added insult to injury. But we both got a good laugh out of it. Her more so.
The key to analyzing backfired plans is taking yourself out of the equation and looking purely at the experience of the other person. My wife and I use the phrase, “When you do ________ it makes me feel ________.” This is a successful tool in marriage, in church life, and in business. We can have the best intentions, but if the end experience is not positive for the receiver, intentions become inferior to the issues of the heart.
That, and learn from the mistakes of others.
To this day I still half-expect that lady to jump out at me in the parking lot somewhere and ask for her quarter back.
You’re welcome. ch: