Fruit Shop Wars

A woman pushed in front of me at the fruit shop today. I was waiting at the counter,  behind a customer who was being served, and she came along with her grandchild and dumped her shopping on the counter right in front of mine.

Its not the first time this sort of thing has happened at my fruit shop. I have been pushed in front of in the queues on a few occasions now. The worst incident was a few weeks ago. A woman moving around the aisles at approximately the same pace as me kept pushing her trolley into me. It was so full of people in the pre-Christmas rush that as I moved around I had to keep stopping and waiting for people infront of me. Whenever I would do this, the woman would shove her trolley into me and push hard, as if she was trying to force me to move along. At first I couldn’t believe she was doing it at all, then I thought it must be an accident – but surely, even if you’re not looking where you are going, you’d stop pushing once you meet an obstruction. This woman didn’t. She kept at it for much of our journey around the store.

I didn’t know how to respond. Part of me was convinced she knew exactly what she was doing, but part of me thought she might have been totally oblivious. I didn’t want to make her feel uncomfortable by pointing it out to her and asking her to stop. In hindsight I know that is ridiculous as she was making me not only uncomfortable but also furious. Instead I just fumed. Later I fumed at myself as well for being so appallingly unassertive because I was worried about embarrassing a stranger.

So today, when the woman pushed in front of me at the counter, I decided to say something. “Excuse me,” I said, ” Do you realise you just pushed in front of me in the queue?”

The woman turned to me and apologised, saying she saw me there but thought I was just looking at the display at the end of the counter. However,  instead of moving out of the way, she went  on to say that she was only buying one thing anyway – AND JUST STOOD THERE.

I calmly picked up my 5 items of shopping, pushed ahead of her, moved her single item back to the end of the counter and put mine down. I told her that I would have been quite happy to let her through if she’d shown some manners, but pushing in front and then assuming you have a right to be there because you only have one item is just plain rude.

She repeated her apology for not having seen me in the queue, and repeated the fact that she was only buying one item – as if that gave her some sort of a right to queue barge. I ignored her, so she stood there silently for a few moments, then quietly moved off to another counter.

I felt bad briefly, wondering if I had done the right thing. I felt as if I’d been rude and I’m sure she felt embarrassed by our little  confrontation. However, If I had let her have her way, I would have felt trampled on – my fear of making strangers feel uncomfortable shouldn’t give them a licence for lack of courtesy.

Anyway, I’d be very interested to hear what others think. How would you have handled that situation? Other than ignoring it, is there a polite way of handling the situation? Would it be better to just ignore this sort of behaviour?

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15 thoughts on “Fruit Shop Wars

  1. I think you have to nicely but assertively call people on rudeness. And that’s the challenge, to be assertive without being aggressive. After all, you never know when you’re going to be in the queue with them again. And whether they will have an axe.

  2. Pingback: Fruit Shop Wars 2 – Karma strikes back « oneregard

  3. If someone bumps me with a trolley I just say ‘owwww!’ loudly and rub where they bumped and maybe glare at them if they don’t apologise. Most people will then feel guilty.

    Your embarrassment is totally natural, most people have that sort of reaction which is why most people are reasonably polite. Apparently 4% of people are sociopaths (as in they don’t actually feel guilt or empathy, not that they are necessarily dangerous) so maybe they are the rude ones.

    I’d have probably let her get away with the one item thing, but that’s not to say you were wrong to take a stand. And what a poor example she was being to her grandchild!

  4. I did feel a little bad about not letting her through with the one item – I usually let people in. I just hated the fact she felt so entitled to be there.

  5. I would have done the same thing–and felt a little bad too. But since it seems to be the case that people are doing this regularly, I think you need to stand you’re ground.

  6. I think you handled it well. She could have asked if you would let her go ahead or if you had seen her and offered to let her go ahead, then that is different. She just assumed she could take advantage of her one item rule. Bad manners on her part especially since she made you feel bad. That’s what manners are all about, making people feel comfortable.

  7. I thought this kind of thing only happened to me, but it seems not! I just tut and say a quiet “ooh” to myself, and feel guilty for doing that!!! I really must work on my assertiveness.

    Having said that though, I was in a supermarket the other day, and had just bought a huge load of stuff and remembered that I had forgotten something. I dashed back into the shop, got my item, and returned to the same counter where a small queue had appeared, and each customer had pretty much the same amount of goods that I had. The lady on the till saw me, ushered me forward and served me before the others. She said to the lady behind me that I had ‘just been through’ but I quickly said thanks to the queue and avoided eye contact at all costs. I could hear the whole queue tutting and quietly saying “ooh”.

    • Well, you were invited through – so there was nothing wrong with going ahead -but I understand why you avoided eye contact – I’d have done the same. 🙂

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