I am a huge fan of Aldi. I buy as many of our groceries there as possible. I have the little quarter pouch keychain on my car keys and rarely go on a shopping trip where I don’t bring enough bags.
That being said, there is a quarter etiquette at Aldi.
If you’ve never shopped at Aldi (is that even possible?), then you should know now that you need to bring a quarter to get a cart. You put your quarter in a little slot on the right side of the cart and it unlocks your cart from the other cart. Because, again if you don’t know, the carts are all chain linked outside of the store. To get a cart, you put your quarter in and when you are done you take your cart back (mind-blowing, I know) and reclaim your quarter by inserting the quarter-getter-backer-chain (the technical term) of the cart ahead in line. Make sense?
Back to etiquette. Typically you take your cart back and get your quarter out. But you may be stopped by someone who asks for your cart. Sometimes you see that they just loaded their groceries while their kiddos suck down Aldi pouches and you are saving them the trip back-to-the-cart station. Sometimes they forget their quarter and are hoping to find a free cart. Then what?
We are now beyond quarter etiquette and are emerged into quarter culture. Because the answer is you give it to them. And when they start to fish around for some nickels to repay you, you say “it’s only 25 cents.” These were wise words said to my mom by a woman at Aldi. I wasn’t there for the exchange, but I’ve heard my mom retell the story. And when she retells it, it’s been either after passing her cart off or returning it to the queue without reclaiming her quarter.
It’s such a simple blessing to pass along.
It’s just a cart. It’s just a quarter. It may not feel that way, though. Not in today’s time. Not when eggs are more expensive than the month previous. But a blessing is always more than a quarter. It lasts longer than the price of eggs and surpasses even inflation. I would dare to say it rises as we watch prices increase.
One time, I was at Aldi with both my kiddos. One was a little baby, the other was 2. I saw this woman a few times in the store, and I remember thinking that she seemed rather snooty. We pulled in behind her in line and began to unload our groceries on the belt. As I began to load my items, I heard an exchange between the snooty lady and the cashier. “I’ve got her groceries, too. I just remember what it was like.” With barely a smile my way, she proceeded to pay for her groceries and mine. Tearfully, I said thank you as she walked on and bagged her items, not looking back.
I want to be that. I want to be Snooty Lady. I want to take quarter culture to the checkout line someday and look back at a mom with her kiddos and say, “I remember.”
The best part about Aldi quarter culture is when you receive a cart from someone and pull out a quarter to repay them and you hear, “Someone gave this one to me, I’m just passing it along now.” It’s the quarter that keeps giving.
Let’s keep giving. I know it’s hard. I know rent is up, and used cars are insanely expensive. I know that the yogurt you used to buy is a dollar more. I’m living it, too. But it’s just a quarter. Who knows, maybe someone offered Snooty Lady a free cart and that lit a fire in her to buy my groceries. We can’t know where our little blessings lead, we can only assume that it blesses.
Be a blessing. Join in the quarter culture. Lay aside etiquette and give with a thankful heart. Those are the shopping trips a mom will remember. Those are the trips she’ll write about for the whole city to read.