So let it be written…
I rue grocery shopping and going to shopping malls.
For me it has become an increasingly soul-withering experience with each new trip, traipsing through gauntlets of self-absorbed, ill-mannered and astonishingly inconsiderate fellow shoppers.
Large stores represent, figuratively speaking, dependable petri dishes for sociologists delving into the morass of human self-entitlement, self-absorption and other self-centred behaviour.
Oh sure, you’ll encounter nice people as well, bless them, whose smiles cast light into aisles and checkout lines otherwise shadowed by ill manners, though their fewer numbers cannot overcome the dimness surrounding them.
Soon, people will be Christmas shopping, if not already, and with that in mind I humbly offer some suggestions aimed at helping us all get through our respective shopping experiences without descending further into the funk of disappointment and depression.
Let’s begin with shopping for groceries.
First, enter through the entrance, not the exit door. Don’t force people leaving the store with their shopping carts to slam on the brakes to avoid you as you slide in through the wrong door. They might get crashed into by shoppers behind them who aren’t paying attention. A shopping cart to the heel, or hip, is never fun. It is of utmost importance to pilot these things with care.
Be aware of your surroundings. I was once rammed by a woman as I was picking up a banana I’d dropped to the floor. This collision, of course, was an accident but her perfect lack of empathy after the fact was not.
Do not park your shopping cart in the middle of the aisle whilst yakking on your cellphone with Jack, Jill or whomever. Leave people space to get by.
At the cashier, send that checkout divider down the line, so the shopper behind you can start loading their stuff on the belt too.
Never cut in front of anyone, ever. And respect the personal space of the shopper in front of you when they’re paying. In other words, back off.
Use your words. Say please, thank you and excuse me. If you want something, or to go somewhere, don’t just point with your finger without saying anything. This too is rude.
Realize that in any given geographical region there is typically only room for one prince or princess, and statistically speaking, chances are excellent that you are neither of these. So have some humility.
Food courts at shopping malls are often busy. Under no circumstances should you approach a family while they’re enjoying their meal and ask them how long they’re going to be because you want their table.
Don’t do this, ever. It’s rude. Move on. Also, never loiter in the aisle next to a table, with your butt aimed point-blank at someone’s face while they’re eating their meal. This is also rude, and gross.
Never cut diagonally across another shopper’s path, or at a right angle, or stop abruptly in front of people walking close behind you. If you get stepped on, it’s your own fault.
Never become so entirely unaware of your surroundings that you actually walk straight into someone else. Not only is this aggravating, it’s just not at all smart.
When in traffic, gee, where to start? If a driver holds back a bit to let you enter their lane, understand that it’s not because you deserve it – it’s because this stranger is doing you, a stranger, a solid.
Acknowledge it with a wave, or a nod, or a smile, or all three.
I promise your face won’t crack if you do.
So let it be done.