You Should Need a License to Drive a Shopping Cart

I’m going to tackle one of my pet peeves – bad behavior of other people in grocery stores.

Certainly some of these behaviors apply to other types of stores. The mentality and skills of searching through racks of clothes, pegboards with hardware and shelves of toys are somewhat different. But only in grocery stores have I seen such blatant violations of what should be deemed common etiquette.

Personally, I use a hand-held basket in most of my grocery visits. Only when I’m buying large bags of apples, a gallon of milk or cat litter do I need a cart. I really like those smaller carts you can find at some stores like Meijer and Marianos. When I use a cart I always “park” it somewhere out-of-the-way while I browse.

Most of this bad behavior is, of course, due to many people being oblivious and self-centered. Here’s a representative sample of what I encounter regularly:

  • Suddenly stopping or backing up without any thought that there are other people around. A glance around before changing direction is too much trouble?
  • Stopping a cart at the end of an aisle. After all, nobody else will be interested in that aisle while the perpetrator is dawdling.
  • Stopping a cart on one side of the aisle, then standing on the OTHER side to look at something. Even worse, not realizing you want to pass, even though you are standing there glaring and tapping your foot. Actually, most of the time I will say “excuse me” but then I usually get the evil eye.
  • Parking a cart in front of a produce section (say bananas), then blocking the rest of that section until they are done picking through it.
  • Barreling out the end of an aisle at break-neck speed without slowing to look left or right. I always hope I will not encounter these people in their cars.
  • When approaching you from the opposite direction, not knowing to swerve to the RIGHT. Aren’t we all supposed to know this? It’s that old .. let’s dance (or play bumper cars) with our carts thing.
  • Unexpectedly banging into you with their cart and appearing to be totally ignorant that they did so.
  • Someone who is not shopping (probably waiting for their spouse) slowly wandering around and moving side to side erratically, making it difficult if not impossible to get past them. Have you ever seen the episode of Mr. Bean where he’s trying to go down a stairwell at a resort?
  • Someone crowding you with their body or cart in the checkout line, somehow thinking this will get them through quicker.
  • Women who, after finishing their purchase at the register, take five minutes to organize the content of their purses before getting out of the way.
  • Two old friends who run into each other at the store and think the middle of the aisle is a good place to stop and have a long chat while blocking everyone else from getting past.
  • Someone at the deli counter who gets 20 different meats and cheeses, has to inspect the thickness of each one before having them sliced. This is not inherently bad behavior, but I think it is rude when many other people are waiting.
  • And of course, there’s the young children who are running around screaming while their parent(s) don’t make any effort to control them and are oblivious to how disruptive and annoying they are.

Just why do people exhibit these behaviors at the store? Are they like this at home? It seems some of it is an erosion of civility and politeness in the world. Do you have any Tales From the Grocery? Please share it in the comments.

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