Grocery Checkout Manners 101: Back Off, Please

Shopping cart

A lot of things bug Miss Mind Your Manners when it comes to matters of politeness. Once in a while, I’ll just let it slide and chalk it up to the decline of Western Civilization, a seemingly inevitable march over which I have no control.

Other days, I speak up. Especially if I’m in a bad mood.

Like today, for instance. I don’t like getting up at 5:45 a.m. on weekends, particularly for children’s sporting events where so many moms have already put their intensity cap on before I’ve even had my first cup of coffee.

So I am admittedly cranky to begin with when I stop to get a cup of coffee at my local supermarket, then decide to multi-task and pick up a few groceries.

I’m sure this has happened to every shopper at some point, but I was not in the mood to deal with The Person Behind You Who Starts Putting Their Groceries on the Conveyor While You Are Just Starting to Unload Your Cart.

Not only that, the guy is physically bumping me with his cart, as he methodically places his items on the belt, leading me to do kind of a Lucy Riccardo version of checking out, where I am frantically attempting to keep up with his groceries coming up behind me and , in front of me, the clerk who is rapidly scanning.

After I get tapped by his cart again, I am compelled to speak up. “You know, I will be done in just a little bit here. Do you mind if I finish putting my groceries on before you put all of yours here?”

As is the case about 75% of the time when I call someone on their rudeness, he just kind of looks at me blankly and does nothing.

My bad mood, coupled with my innate hatred of random rudeness, bubbles up. “Oh, no, that’s okay -- you can just keep doing what you’re doing. Just bump me with your cart again, too, so I really get the message that you’re in a rush.” Keep in mind that I am hardly slow when tossing my groceries on the conveyor.

The clerk gives me a knowing and sympathetic look. “How is your day, ma’am?”

“Thank you or asking,” I tell him, smiling. “You are so polite. That’s really missing in so many people today, isn’t it? Everyone seems like they are in SUCH A HURRY!”

The undeterred jerk behind me is now doing the thing where he is moving up his cart even closer while I am signing the credit card swiper. His cart jabs into my heel.

And at that point, I put my cart in full, fast reverse mode, so it BAMS into his.

“Oh, so sorry about that,” I smile sweetly. “Where are my manners?” Like a dog who has been chastised, the guy looks at me for a millisecond, then looks away. He doesn’t move his cart an inch.

The broad grin the clerk gives me makes it all worthwhile, though, because I know he sees this kind of thing every 15 minutes in his lane.

Do share: how annoyed do you get when person behind you in the checkout line gets too close for comfort – on purpose?


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  • Yes. This type of behavior drives me nuts! My guess is it became prevalent when scanners and checkers became so proficient that we can't keep up. Morons edge up with their cart like we're inching along in traffic trying to enter some parking facility, except we don't have sheet metal between us, back off Jerk!

  • In the supermarket, would you call it "a salt and buttery"?

  • It's not so much the rudeness. I have been hit by carts by both sexes in aisles and in checkout. Sometime -- often times-- by accident.

    What bothers me the most, except with old folks, is when somebody whips out the checkbook and starts writing for payment. Or when there is a fight over a coupon legality, which takes forever to resolve.

    Then there is the horror of the "price check". If you question a price do it at customer service.

    Peapod is looking good.

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