Monday, July 19, 2010

Rudeness and the grocery store - do they go hand in hand?

Is it just me, or are there more rude people in society today? Perhaps it’s because I’m pregnant and I can switch from hot to cold in no time flat, or perhaps it’s because parents don’t teach their children manners anymore. Either way, something is seriously wrong with society.

Take for example two recent experiences I had in the grocery store. I go grocery shopping every week, and it’s usually early in the morning so I can avoid as many people as possible (this is because I shop at a local non-union grocery store with great prices that is open 24 hours, so there are ALWAYS people there – always. I went at 11:00 p.m. back in my carefree single days and it was packed (with lots of people and children in pajamas, but packed nonetheless)). At this store, you must unload your groceries onto the conveyer belt, and then bag your groceries yourself. People often ask why I go grocery shopping alone if I have to bag my own groceries, but I enjoy shopping alone. First, if I brought my husband, we’d buy a lot more, because he’d just throw things into the cart. Second, I HATE people who bring their spouse and their six children to buy groceries…you know the kids are going to misbehave, and the parents usually end up arguing and not watching the misbehaving children.

Anyway – I usually have a pretty good experience at the grocery store. I park far, far away in a shady spot, away from the busy parking section in front of the store where angry people are fighting for spots. I grab my cart and get out my list (I’m actually one of those people who shop with a list and follow it – a newly acquired skill), and I head into the store. (I should also mention, my grocery shopping tradition is to go first to a drive-through Starbucks, so I come to the grocery store prepared with my Iced Venti decaf two-pump no whip mocha.)

In addition to the hordes of complaining children, there are always people who stop their cart in the middle of the aisle, abandon their cart completely to wander far away from it, and people who are just generally annoying. These things don’t bother me too much – I take it in stride and figure they’re going to happen, so I don’t get worked up over them. I start out in the produce section, and then work my way through the store. (Shopping tip – I used to make a list but go up and down every aisle, JUST IN CASE there was something there I forgot, so I never actually followed my list and bought way too much stuff. Now, I know the store well enough that if something on my list is not in that aisle, I skip the aisle; helps me save time and money.)

Finally, I end up near the check stands. My solo shopping expedition strategy used to be to find the line where the person in front of me didn’t have a lot of stuff, so I could start unloading my basket. Now, I realize that just means I have less time to unload, and then I’ll be rushing. If someone with a huge basketful of stuff pulls in behind you, you’re set, because you know you’ll have time to bag your groceries before they’re done being checked out. Back to my point, I try to find a line down at the not-so-busy bakery end of the store, and get to work unloading my cart.

Here’s where I got really angry in the store a few weeks ago (and again just this past weekend). I’m unloading my cart, and it’s a deep cart, so to reach the items that are in the very back, I’d pulled my cart to the side of the conveyer belt, rather than left it at the end of it, and am unloading my groceries about on the middle of the belt (plus, with a pregnant belly, I just can’t lean that far over the edge of the cart anymore!). In this instance, I happened to be at the busier end of the checkout counters, so there was more traffic milling about. There was no one behind me in line, and there was a single older gentleman in front of me (who looks like he bought the entire store).

As I’m placing my items on the conveyer belt, this woman and her five children come screaming up behind me to get in line before anyone else takes their spot. THEN (and here comes the anger), even though the woman can clearly see I was only about halfway through unloading my groceries, she started to unload her groceries onto the end of the conveyer belt! I looked at her in disbelief, shook my head, and continued unloading my groceries. I was a little too shocked to say anything, and I thought when I run out of room, I’ll ask her where I’m supposed to finish unloading my stuff and make her move hers.

Turns out, I had just enough space to unload the rest of my groceries without moving hers, so I gave her the benefit of the doubt and waited patiently for the checker to finish with the man in front of me. He was (slowly) bagging his groceries, and the checker began on mine (there are two aisles at the end of the check out stand so two people can bag at once), so I moved my cart to the end of the aisle to prepare bagging (those of you who bag your own groceries – if you have a lot to do, don’t you start bagging right away too?). I look up after awhile and see that the checker is almost done with my groceries, so I grab my purse and head back to the checker to pay.

Well, I attempt to.

Rude Mama behind me has pushed her cart so far forward so that I can’t make it to the checker. I look at her and rudely say, “Excuse me, I need to pay.” (Really, it wasn’t that rude.) She moves her cart back an inch or two. By this time, I’m frustrated and state, “No, further, I need to get to the checker to pay” while making “shooing” motions with my hands so she moves.

Who F’ing moves their cart up in front of the ATM machine at the check out stand when CLEARLY they can see that the person in front of them hasn’t paid yet!?!

At this point, I was totally frustrated and angry. I had to hip-check her cart just so I could squeeze in between her cart and the checkout stand to pay for my groceries, so I returned to the end of the aisle to finish bagging in not the best of moods. I noticed that the elderly gentleman was still bagging his groceries, so both lanes at the end of the aisle were taken. Normally, this would cause the checker to pause before starting on the next person.

My checker, being oh-so-helpful to the wrong people, began to ring up Rude Mama’s groceries (she didn’t have much). In a normal situation, I’d be bagging as fast as I could to get out of their so I wasn’t holding people up. Instead, because I don’t like this woman, I bag as SLOWLY as I possibly can. It was great – talk about calming. This caused the checker to hold onto Rude Mama’s few groceries at the check stand (although she’d already paid, there was nowhere for them to go down the lane to the bags).

Again, the checker decided to be helpful when really she should have minded her own business. I was slowly bagging my groceries, and as slowly as I was going, I was still beating the elderly gentleman to my left (who I’d now engaged in pleasant conversation, just to slow the process up a little bit more). Rude Mama and her kids were hovering, unsure of which lane their groceries were going to end up in. Then the checker, damn her, grabbed some bags and bagged Rude Mama’s groceries herself so they could leave the store.


So, they left the store and I finished bagging my groceries at normal speed, bid farewell to the elderly gentleman (who was still bagging) and took off.

This past weekend, I didn’t have a bagging issue, and I didn’t have an issue with someone unloading their groceries before I was done. However, I had begun bagging my groceries and, seeing that the checker was nearing the end of mine, walked back to the check stand to pay. The woman behind me had her cart parked totally across the aisle, RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE CASHIER! Again, what is wrong with people!? How is it even feasible to think that is a good place for your cart, when you know I haven’t yet paid for my groceries? Why do you think I’m not going to come back and rudely tell you to get your cart out of my way so I can pay?


Honestly, I’ve defended this grocery store for years. I assumed people were too sensitive, too angry, or whatever and I continued with my happy shopping adventure in peace. I hope that I’ve just started shopping at the wrong time, or perhaps on the wrong day, and that a simple adjustment to my schedule will do the trick, because I hate to think there are this many more rude, ill-mannered people in the world who lack common sense and manners.

As I get ready to give birth, the type of world I’m bringing my daughter into worries me. Then again, I just remember how my parents taught me manners and respect, and know that I’ll teach my daughter the same things.

Although, maybe that’s what’s wrong.

Maybe my manners are too good – if I didn’t have manners and didn’t know how to properly act in social settings, I wouldn’t be annoyed. I’d be annoying other people, sure, but since I wouldn’t know the difference, I wouldn’t care.

Maybe today’s slacker parents are on to something! But you’re right, I can’t sink that low.