Anyone who lives in Juneau knows the Taku Winds, but especially the residents of Douglas and downtown. They are fierce.
Early one morning in January a few years ago I went to Foodland. It was still dark and the Taku Winds were blowing. I needed pellets for my pellet stove. I had made my purchase and was in the parking lot loading the bags of pellets into my car when I heard a noise. It was the sound of a shopping cart blown in the parking lot. I didn’t see it, but I could tell by the noise that it was picking up speed. Then he violently crashed into a nearby car. I went to see the damage. It had crashed into a fairly new pickup truck and there was visible damage. Then I thought to myself: not so long ago this would never have happened because until a few years ago everyone conscientiously returned the shopping carts to the storage area inside the building. This is how I know our society is going upside down.
In my opinion, the most fundamental metric of a society is how we treat each other, especially people we don’t know. The simple act of returning a cart to its storage location shows respect for other customers and store managers. Shopping carts left in the middle of a parking lot are one example, but there are many more, like being polite to the cashiers in the store, and not throwing trash in the parking lot or on our streets.
You can ask questions on Google like “Is society declining?” Or “Is society changing?” Or “Is society going backwards?” and find scholarly articles that tackle the issue from a macro level. But I’m saying the answer isn’t at the macro level. The answer can be seen in the parking lots of grocery stores right here in Juneau, Alaska.
• Ray Preston is a long-time resident of Juneau and has self-identified as a “retiree”.