Do you pass the ‘Trolley Test’? - Glasshouse Christian College

Do you pass the ‘Trolley Test’?



  • September 7, 2023

Do you pass the ‘Trolley Test’?

The Courier Mail ‘Trolley Test’ article

Max Futcher is a journalist with The Courier Mail and recently wrote an article titled, “Do you return your shopping trolley?” (NB: link is for subscribers only). He said, “It’s a moral dilemma and the ultimate test of honesty – but it seems a lot are failing.” 

Mr Futcher says that we can measure society’s morality by visiting our supermarket carparks and taking in the state of the trolleys. Are the trolleys all in the designated bays or are some left on the footpath, half on the kerbing or, horror of horrors, in the only vacant car spot?

If you regularly visit more than one supermarket carpark, can you tell the difference in the morality of its shoppers by the state of its trolleys? This could be a good study in itself. If you are looking to move into a new area, should you measure the morality of the suburb by the state of the shopping carpark? Does the suburb pass the ‘Trolley Test’?

The New York Times ‘Shop Cart Theory’ article

Mr Futcher was not the first person to write about the ‘Trolley Test’. The New York Times ran a similar feature called, “Everyone Has a Theory about Shopping Carts”. The article was much broader and talked about shopping carts (as they are called in the USA) as modern icons, works of art (even a Banksy one) and the subject of school assignments, desk-chair vigilantes and possible future legislation.

The ‘Trolley Test’ is the ultimate morality test because there is no fine for doing the wrong thing (yet) and it requires self-regulation. You probably won’t even see the person who benefits from you putting the trolley in the bay so there is also an altruistic element to the act.

Do you pass the ‘Trolley Test’?

So, do you pass the ‘Trolley Test’? If you answer yes to any of the below questions then you fail:

  • I don’t return the trolley because I don’t want to do anyone out of a job. 
  • I don’t return the trolley because I’m in a hurry.
  • I don’t return the trolley because it really doesn’t matter.
  • I don’t return the trolley because it’s just too hard due to my circumstances.

You might be someone who always returns the trolley and if so, I thank you on behalf of our community. You pass the trolley test but do you surpass the trolley test?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to not only have all the trolleys in the trolley bays but also be part of returning other people’s trolleys to the trolley bays? I know of at least one man who makes a point of doing this and he is a wonderful example to his children and grandchildren.

ALDI rarely have the problem of trolleys not being returned as they use a coin or token system. However, what ALDI do report is that customers often leave their coin in the trolley so the next person can use it. What a lovely but simple act of kindness. Imagine making someone’s day by doing this!

The ‘Trolley Test’ = loving our neighbours

The ‘Trolley Test’ is really all about loving our neighbour as ourselves. We would like to pull into a car park without a trolley blocking the bay. We would not like to be the recipient of a wayward trolley smashing into our car. We would like our differently-abled friends to disembark from their vehicles without being blocked by shopping trolleys. If we would like all these things being done for us then the least we can do is return our own trolleys. 

The ‘Trolley Test’ might be a modern measure of morality but go back a couple of thousand years and the principle of loving your neighbour as yourself is right there. The ten commandments were given toward the beginning of the Bible in Exodus 20 but Jesus summed them up approximately 1600 years later in Mark 12:30, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” 

Next week is the final one of Term 3 and I hope many of you have a chance to relax, unwind and maybe even go on holiday somewhere. Can I encourage you to use the time to think of how you can love your neighbour as yourself? As a parent, you will reap double the benefits of any kind act of thoughtfulness you perform. Not only will you enjoy loving others but you will be setting a wonderful example of love in action for your children to follow.

Enjoy your upcoming break and I’ll see you in Term 4.

Mike Curtis, Principal

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