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EDITOR’S VIEW Lesson learned in a grocery store parking lot

This time of year, we dedicate our newspaper pages to commencement ceremonies, highlighting the achievements of students and words of wisdom from speech makers.

Much of the advice passed on to the Class of 2022 was similar to that offered the year before, the year before that and so on.

“Reach for the stars.”

“Your future is bright.”

“Don’t forget where you came from.”

During a recent scroll through LinkedIn, I came across a post whose words struck me as a powerful message to the newly graduated.

It was written by someone I don’t know personally. He wrote:

“I’ve never met a successful person who leaves their grocery cart in the middle of the parking lot.”

He credited the thought to Glenn Danzig - singer, songwriter, musician, film director, record producer and founder of the bands Misfits, Samhain and Danzig - whose quote states, in part:

“The shopping cart is the ultimate litmus test for whether a person is capable of self-governing. To return the shopping cart is an easy, convenient task and one which we all recognize as the correct, appropriate thing to do.

“To return the shopping cart is objectively right. ... The shopping cart is what determines whether a person is a good or bad member of society.”

The LinkedIn writer added, “Think about it. It’s one of the easiest things to do, yet every day, people are too lazy and selfish to do the right thing. Next time you’re in the store parking lot, pay attention. It’ll really surprise you to see the differences in people.”

It’s doubtful this post was intended as graduation advice, but it’s solid information. And it just might hit the mark for some.

Social media went wild among the young grad crowd when Taylor Swift accepted the invitation to speak to New York University’s Class of 2022. She received an honorary degree that day.

Swift’s message focused less on a flawless future and more on owning mistakes and moving on.

She reportedly detailed some of her own mistakes and encouraged the graduates to learn from theirs and remain resilient because “life can be heavy, especially if you try to carry it all at once,” she said.

“In your life, you will inevitably misspeak, trust the wrong person, underreact, overreact ...

“hurt the people who didn’t deserve it, overthink, not think at all ...

“self-sabotage, create a reality where only your experience exists, ruin perfectly good moments for yourself and others ...

“deny any wrongdoing, not take the steps to make it right, feel very guilty, let the guilt eat at you ...

“hit rock bottom, finally address the pain you caused, try to do better next time ...

“rinse, repeat.”

Swift offered an important assurance to these young people that mistakes don’t mark permanent failures. Acknowledging their part in them and acting to make improvements are where the real growth happens.

An interview earlier this month by WFMZ’s Nancy Werteen stressed the importance of accountability as well - in this case, in reaching goals.

Werteen spoke with Joetta, a four-time Olympian middle distance runner.

Joetta is the daughter of Joe Clark, legendary high school principal, whose values and lessons were featured in the movie “Lean On Me.” Her parents taught her and her siblings “discipline, focus, character, being good people,” she said.

When asked to describe how to create a solid work ethic, she said there was no standard procedure for all people.

“The answer lies within you. ... Know your ‘A.C.E.’ - be accountable, be credible and be enthusiastic.

“Have a purpose, get prepared, be patient, get perturbed and persevere.”

We all learn lessons and absorb advice at our own pace, in our own time and even at a venue where we feel most vulnerable, whether it be a classroom, graduation ceremony or sports arena.

If, by chance, yours happens to be a grocery store parking lot, please remember to return the cart.

Kelly Lutterschmidt


Whitehall-Coplay Press

Northampton Press

Catasauqua Press