We’re All In This Together (#2)

Welcome back to the blog that reminds you that there are other people in the world, and they’re just as important as you.

An increasing number of people operate as if they are, indeed, the only person in the world, and it seems to be more and more acceptable. But guess what? It’s not, and this big-mouth is going to break the code of silence surrounding acceptance of rude behavior. Ready?


In the first installment of “We’re All in This Together,” I touched on basic rules of behavior in the grocery store, but there’s much more to public awareness in than basic cart maneuvers and line choice. Let’s revisit the grocery store, shall we?

Previously established rules:
  • Keep your cart to the right so others can pass by while you study canned peas, which are a bad idea, anyway.
  • Lines are there for a reason. Take turns.

Before I move on to etiquette once you reach the register belt and cashier, I need to make one more comment regarding line choice. 

The 10 items or less rule applies to everyone, including you. 

I’m not trying to be a jerk about this. If you think you have 10 things and it turns out you have 12, nobody except a real stickler is going to care. But if you know you have more than that, choose a different line. The rule does apply to you.

Furthermore, if you’re going to be a selfish clod and ignore the rule, own it. More than once I’ve seen adults turn to the people behind them and say things like, “Well, 10 of one thing is one thing, right?”

No. It’s not. And it’s not cute, either. It’s selfish and stupid, so please don’t attempt to win other customers’ support. Your comment only indicates that you are fully aware that you are over the maximum and don’t care.

It doesn’t matter if the other lines are really long. The 10 items or less lane is to help people with only a handful of items get out of the store more quickly. Your deciding that the rule doesn’t apply to you inconveniences others and announces, “I don’t deserve to be inconvenienced–you do.” I beg to differ, and if you attempt to pull me into the conversation, I will be quite clear on this.

All right, we can move on now. I feel much better.  The overreaching code of conduct at the belt and cashier is that, keeping in mind that there are other people not just on the planet but also in the store with you, you should attempt to be expedient. Specifically…

If you are going to write a check, please don’t wait until the cashier and/or bagger are done.

Chances are you know the name of the store you’re in and that you’re going to need to sign the check. It’s okay to do these things before you know what your total is going to be. It is unlikely that someone will randomly run up to you, grab the semi-completed check out of your hand, and flee while planning how to empty your bank account. Most stores also require identification to take a personal check, so don’t wait until the last possible second to fish around in your bag for yours.

Put your mobile phone away.

Yes–away. The absence of your phone will help your physical ability to do what needs to be done and keep you focused on checking out. For instance, you will be better able to load your groceries from the cart and onto the belt with two hands.

This does not mean that you should attempt to hold the phone between your ear and your shoulder while you make the transfer, either. It takes a very coordinated person to do this, and chances are you’re going to move much more slowly than you would sans phone or you’re going to drop the phone. If that happens, you’ll have to stop unloading your groceries, fish around under your cart for your phone, and then stand there stupidly saying, “Hello?” If the phone isn’t dead, you’ll have to take a moment to giggle and tell the person on the other end, “I just dropped you! I know, right? I had to fish around under my cart, but you’re still on! Hope that didn’t hurt! Haha!”

The rest of us will be hoping that your phone is dead–for a variety of reasons, some more mean-spirited than others. If I am behind you, for example, I will be picturing myself doing aggressive things like picking up the phone and telling you I’ll hold it until you’re done checking out, kicking the phone under the candy display and out of your reach, stomping the phone to bits, or bashing my cart into yours while you’re lying on the floor. I will do none of these things, but you should be aware that those ideas, culled from a larger lot, came to me instantaneously and not all fellow shoppers will have this restraint.

Putting your phone away will also enable you to do things like, acknowledge the cashier and provide him or her with your frequent shopper card, help bag the groceries, and pay for your purchase. Cashiers say the same things over and over, “Do you have your Giant Rewards card? Is plastic okay? Did you find everything you were looking for? Do you wish to make a one dollar donation to the March of Dimes?” They should not have to repeat any of these things to you because you are on the phone discussing something that could likely wait five minutes.

As a side note, please be polite to the cashier, even if he or she is cranky. You don’t have to have an entire conversation. In fact, please do NOT (that could be its own rule). But it’s the right thing to do… and happy cashiers will move more quickly than ones who want to inconvenience you as much as possible because you’re on the phone or rude.

One Comment on “We’re All In This Together (#2)

  1. Ah Thank you Beth. It is so refreshing to read something that should be understood but in today's society isn't.

    Another one should be if you meet someone you know don't park your carts side by side and have a conversation blocking the isle.

    Again thank you.


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