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Excuse Me - Shopping Etiquette

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Berzerker, Jan 10, 2018.

  1. Berzerker

    Berzerker Chieftain

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    I was in the store waiting behind a woman in one of those drivable shopping carts. I waited and when she got what she wanted and was driving off I got what I wanted off the shelf. She saw my hand out of her periphery and said you're supposed say excuse me. A second later she called me an arsehole and then she looked back and said, thats right, you're supposed to be nice to people.

    I thought I was being nice... I waited my turn and tried not to bother her. But she didn't like it... Part of me wanted to laugh and part wanted to show her what I'm like when I'm not being nice and another wanted to thank her for the delightful experience of meeting such a nice person.

    Now sometimes when I'm shopping I'll stand back away from the shelf I'm looking at to get a better view. If I see someone coming I'll try to step closer to the shelf with my cart so they can go around me instead of in front of me. But I cant always do that so some people will pass in front of me without a word (thank you) and others will say excuse me (no need). I prefer they just keep walking, if they say excuse me I feel obliged to acknowledge them and 'forgive' their interference with my hunt for food.

    You know, saying excuse me doesn't expedite the process... And please dont call it a courtesy, its a meaningless gesture that involves me further in your life more than I want or need. I'm looking for a product and now I have to engage with you instead, say excuse me for saying excuse me... ;)

    I typically only 'excuse me' when I'm in somebody's way or they're in my way and they're talking with someone and oblivious to the person who wants to pass. It doesn't make me mad... Now these people who get off the escalator and stand there as people start piling up behind them are another story, but I try not to bother people unless it becomes 'necessary'.

    Some people interpret that as rude... They expect an excuse me and can become downright nasty when they dont get it. These people dont go around the store saying excuse me constantly so I find their gripe hypocritical too. I imagine they say excuse me when they think its necessary.

    If I'm passing in front of someone who is standing back away from the shelf sometimes I'll say excuse me because these offended shoppers are conditioning me to think I owe them an excuse me, but I prefer just passing in silence for the same reason I prefer people pass me in silence, I dont wanna oblige them to respond.

    What is the proper etiquette? If someone walks by you without an excuse me, do you feel offended?
     
  2. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Another drone in the hive mind

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    In prison, walking between two people who are talking without saying excuse me is a potentially mortal discourtesy. Having a conversation while standing on opposite sides of a hallway when you could easily both be standing on the same side so people can get by without having to excuse themselves is also a potentially mortal discourtesy. That said, common courtesy is pretty unusual in the regular world, so I have no idea what is really "proper."

    Related grocery store anecdote.

    I was standing, with cart, in the wide rear aisle of the store and looking down an aisle trying to decide whether what I was looking for was on that aisle. Three late teen/early twenties types came walking down the aisle side by sides, and split with two going on one side of me and one going by in the direction I was looking. He just flashed through, and I was at that moment reading the overhead sign and barely noticed him, so thought little of it.

    A few minutes later I'm in an aisle getting noodles and hear "next time you can move" in a sort of snarly voice. After a brief surprise I realized the back headed down the aisle was one of the guys from the previous encounter and got what he was talking about, so I lit out after him. As he turned at the end of the aisle he realized I was, by then, pretty much right behind him. As he turned I said "you talking about back there at the back of the store?" He got a little nervous and said "yeah, you were blocking the aisle." I said "there seemed to be plenty of room for you to get past, and if there wasn't all you had to do was say 'excuse me' and I'd have made more room." His response: "I dunno about all that," at which point I told him "well, it's a common courtesy and you better <deleted> learn about that stuff before you start the wrong thing and get your head torn off."

    This young couple with a baby in the cart, who had been pretty much right next to me by the noodles, were still there when I got back to my cart, sort of watching. The guy said "you can't let people like that get to you, man." I told him that the guy didn't get to me, I just feel obliged to straighten stuff like that out because the next time his friends convince him he's been "disrespected" and he has to go play tough guy it might be with someone who isn't equipped to straighten it out at the time. I didn't say it, but I was thinking "like a guy out grocery shopping with his wife, and a kid in the cart." I think they got it.
     
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  3. Synsensa

    Synsensa Warlord Retired Moderator

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    My only expectation in public is that people are somewhat self-aware enough to get out of the way if they see someone coming, to not take up an entire aisle, and to not be offended if someone asks them to move.

    Anything more is theatrics or ego. Or both.
     
    The_J and Lexicus like this.
  4. Lexicus

    Lexicus Warlord

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    Man, we were talking about this at work not that long ago, people rolling their eyes at us after getting "stuck" behind us on the sidewalk when they could have simply said "excuse me"...
     
  5. Synsensa

    Synsensa Warlord Retired Moderator

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    If you take up an entire sidewalk with a group, you're worse than Hitler. Probably.
     
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  6. Borachio

    Borachio Way past lunacy

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    People! Bloody people!

    They get absolutely everywhere.

    I can't be doing with supermarkets which have more than one person (including me) in each aisle.

    Nor am I fond of people in supermarkets who jabber away in some foreign language. Nor indeed those who jabber away in English.

    I expect it won't be long before supermarket rage is a thing.

    It's something to do with population density. You can see the same thing in laboratory rats.
     
  7. Valka D'Ur

    Valka D'Ur Hosting Iron Pen in A&E Retired Moderator

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    So you weren't getting in her way at all, and she got mad at you for it? The only sensible reasons I can think of for that is if she either originally planned to back up and you were in her way (which doesn't seem to be the case) or she's uneasy about people being directly behind her (which could be the case, but which doesn't merit her being rude to you). And if she were planning to back up, she should have said "excuse me" to you, not the other way around. No matter which way you look at this specific incident, I don't think you were in the wrong.

    Okay, now we're not in agreement. "Excuse me" is one of the phrases that lets people interact courteously without getting personal. Nobody is expecting heartfelt forgiveness or any other kind of personal interaction other than just a quiet acknowledgment that doesn't even require words, although something like "that's okay" or "not a problem" is more polite than "uh-huh" or a grunt.

    "Excuse me" is a basic part of the Canadian vocabulary; it's one of the reasons why we have an international reputation for being polite. Of course not everyone chooses to use that phrase or even thinks they should; an able-bodied woman with a couple of tween-age girls, who could easily have stepped around me at the bus stop when I was waiting there, decided to get belligerent and yell at me for not moving out of the way of where she wanted to walk the moment I noticed her from half a block away. I told her that I was doing what everyone did at bus stops - standing there, waiting for the bus (there was no option to sit, as there was no bench), she had plenty of room to go around me, and since I'm mobility-challenged, it's not easy for me to just jump out of people's way. I told her that I'd have moved over if she had politely said "Excuse me," but since she decided to yell and swear at me, I didn't owe her any courtesy. So she continued to scream at me, and as she stomped down the block, I told her she was setting a fine example for her children (at least they kept their mouths shut).

    But normally, "Excuse me" is so much an ingrained part of my vocabulary, that the last time I said it was earlier today - to my cat. She's learned what it means and usually gets out of my way, as she doesn't want the cat-speak version (a hiss of the sort her biological mother would have made when she was seriously annoyed).

    How many times do you say "excuse me" before you get annoyed if they don't move?

    As for the escalator situation, blocking the way off it is a safety hazard.

    :huh: There's nothing wrong with a quiet "excuse me" as you pass in front of them. It's not so much an invitation for them to engage you in conversation, but rather an acknowledgment that you are temporarily in the way of them either looking for something, reading labels, or intending to reach for something. If you do it in an appropriately quiet tone of voice, it won't be taken as a "please forgive me" or "get out of my way", but rather "sorry for inconveniencing you." Most people will just quietly indicate that it's not a problem and that's the end of it.

    It depends on the situation. If they're rude about it, yes. If they're polite and I can safely move out of the way, no. If they physically push me, yell, swear, or are rude in other ways, then it definitely offends me.

    And if somebody says, "I need this out of my way" and grabs my walker and pushes it somewhere else, then I get extremely angry and tell them to bring it right back and ask them if they would do the same to someone on crutches or in a wheelchair. I've actually had to tell some of the staff in the apartment building here that if my walker is in their way, they are to politely say so and ask me to move it. I need it for safety reasons, as I have balance problems. Yank it away from me/put it out of reach, and that's like grabbing someone's crutches and running off with them - it makes for a very unsafe situation, not to mention extremely rude and disrespectful.

    Yep, that's entirely reasonable.


    Another thing about the phrase "Excuse me"... it's sometimes used as a way to attract attention of someone, equivalent to "Pardon me, but could you please (whatever favor or service you're asking for)?".
     
  8. Zkribbler

    Zkribbler Chieftain

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    The irony is delicious!
     
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  9. civvver

    civvver Chieftain

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    Just use shipt or equivalent. Problem solved.

    Just as a side note, my wife scurries about the kitchen, never using efficient pathing (she'll get one thing out of the pantry at a time making five trips in total), always crossing my path. I will always just sit there waiting for her to finish whatever she's doing so I can grab a plate from the cabinet behind her. And she'll look at me and go what? I say "nothing, just waiting for you to finish" and she'll go "you're so rude! All you have to do is ask nicely for me to move!" and I always tell her I was being nice patiently waiting for her to be done. She just doesn't perceive it than way, she always thinks I'm hovering with annoyance.

    It sounds exactly like your situation. So I guess it's all perception. I find men often think we're expressionless or something and women see our faces full of disgust unless we literally have a smile on them lol.
     
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  10. Berzerker

    Berzerker Chieftain

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    Crowded food stores seem to be about the only places these issues arise, I suspect everyone's preoccupation looking for stuff is a factor. I grew up - I was conditioned - in a densely populated city where dodging pedestrians, cyclists and cars was an everyday occurrence, even an art. So I probably shop with that same mentality. Just get my stuff without interfering with others too much.

    There's a Star Trek episode about crew being captured and isolated by a people who want to reduce their population with diseases carried by the earthlings. The crew soon discover just outside their enclosure are a bunch of people shuffling about like an insect hive. Course it was a ridiculous image but conveyed the problem. Now imagine if these people were all saying excuse me each time they had to adjust their path to avoid bumping into someone. Bzzzzzzzzz...

    Yup... But this woman didn't wait to see my face... She saw me reach into the area she had been and figured I was behind her waiting disgruntled. I dont know, maybe she's just projecting or something.

    If I hadn't been taken aback by her anger I would have been laughing out loud

    I think she realized I was behind her waiting. What did she expect of me, to rush her out of the way with an 'excuse me'? I'd consider that rude unless she was parked there talking to someone instead of shopping.

    Actually the more I think about it, maybe I shouldn't stand back away from the shelf to get a better look. I'm putting other people who want to pass in the position of doing so in front of me, I should be the one saying excuse me. I didn't leave them a choice but to pass in front of me, now I'm going to burden them with excusing themselves? Hmm... Never thought of it like that.

    Depends on their reaction, if I dont get one I figure they didn't hear me. But if they look at me and return to their conversation I'd be annoyed.
     
  11. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Another drone in the hive mind

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    I won't tell you not to try this, but it won't work. You have to stand back so you can survey more than the little bit of shelf right in front of your face. Everyone does that.

    If you really want to be 'less of a burden,' I suggest that you make a point of not getting so wrapped up in the search that you lose awareness of peripheral vision. When someone is coming, notice them and step forward so they can pass. As an option, turn your head briefly and smile as you step forward. I estimate that instead of being burdened with saying 'excuse me' a fair portion will take the opportunity to say 'thanks,' which will brighten their day.
     
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  12. Berzerker

    Berzerker Chieftain

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    I'll move closer to the shelf but sometimes thats not so easy with a cart and other people nearby and its just easier for everyone if I stay back, but I dont talk to passerbys, I just try to get out of their way and leave them room to pass. You're right though, a jovial attitude does brighten the day a bit and something I should work on, but I'm kinda shy. ;) I dont know who has the right of way, the person walking by or the person already there. Sometimes people are staggered with one close to a shelf and another standing back so anyone passing by has to zig and zag. I see the gap and I'm going for it, or I see them coming and create a gap for them to pass.
     
  13. Borachio

    Borachio Way past lunacy

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    [QUOTE="Timsup2nothin, post: 14983238, member: 241888"
    If you really want to be 'less of a burden,' I suggest that you make a point of not getting so wrapped up in the search that you lose awareness of peripheral vision. .[/QUOTE]

    Now, sometimes that is really hard to do.

    I've often spied people gazing intently, and motionless, at something on the shelves for what, to me waiting, seems like minutes.

    And then I've later found myself doing exactly the same thing. Almost completely oblivious to the world around me.
     
  14. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Another drone in the hive mind

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    Perhaps you shop in more interesting stores.

    @Berzerker ... It takes practice. First rule; always park your cart on the side of the aisle you are going to be looking at. That way when you step forward you will be next to your cart and they will have room to pass where you have vacated.
     
  15. Borachio

    Borachio Way past lunacy

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    I've never (or almost never) found food to be uninteresting.
     
  16. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Another drone in the hive mind

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    I dunno. When it is still in a tin standing amongst a bunch of tins on the shelf it's hard to get excited.
     
  17. Borachio

    Borachio Way past lunacy

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    I know. But then my mind goes into whirl of thinking of the contents and what they're like, and whether they'll go well with something else, and something else, and possibly on toast.

    I don't tend to buy a lot of tinned stuff though.

    And of course there's the price of thing to consider, and the size of it, and whether it mightn't be cheaper down the road.

    There is a great deal to be thought about, imo.

    It's surprising the shops aren't fuller of people staring vacantly into space.
     
  18. danjuno

    danjuno The Vintage Where The Memes of Wrath Are Stored

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    Yeah, just pop over to r/talesfromretail or one of the related subreddits and you will read some very interesting stories.

    Spoiler :
     
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  19. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Another drone in the hive mind

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    We have a lot of that, mostly in the chip aisle. But we have legal marijuana, so that may be a factor.
     
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  20. Berzerker

    Berzerker Chieftain

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    Thats true, I tend to walk by pushing the cart on the outside of the aisle and then head closer in with the cart when I've found my prey and someone else is nearby. But when I do leave the cart closer and step back I'm kinda taking up the whole aisle. It does take some practice, its like bumper cars but with the goal of not bumping cars.
     

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