Etiquette? Yes, please!

11 03 2009

fork3523_small1Yesterday, I was picking up a few things from the supermarket (which always ends up as a trolley-load, because once a week is enough for some things!). It’s a strange place, with big columns in the middle of aisles, so a bit of etiquette goes a long way as we all maneouvre our way around.

Did someone say ‘etiquette’? One lady had parked her trolley right next to the column, while she did a bit of brand comparison. She appeared oblivious to the pileup she was causing as she meditated upon the tins of tuna. And I was the first in line.

“Excuse me…” I said, softly, so I didn’t alarm her. No response.

“Excuse me…” Louder this time, but still politely (trolley rage is not my thing!). I mean, she could’ve been deaf, right?

This time she looked around, looked me up and down and said, “Yes?”

“Could you move your trolley so I can get past, please?”

Well, she reacted as if I’d asked her to donate a kidney. She huffed, muttered “sorr-eee”, and moved her trolley just enough so we could all squeeze past. Did I say trolley-rage isn’t my thing. I lied.

When did “excuse me” (delivered respectfully) become an offensive phrase? And what do you do in situations where you need to get passed, and someone won’t budge a single centimetre? If you push, you get snarled at. If you say “excuse me” you get the same response.

I read recently that etiquette schools are taking off in Brisbane. I’m sure it’s happening elsewhere – and not before time. Kids are being taught to use a knife and fork, and learn ‘table’ manners – among other things. You might wonder, like I do, why this doesn’t seem to fall under ‘parenting’ these days?

I’d like to add “excuse me” to the etiquette curriculum…along with:

  •  language lessons in “please”, “thank you”,  “sorry” and “you’re welcome”
  • Sending RSVPs when they’re asked for, by the date on the invitation (not the day/night of the event). Oh, and actually turning up or at least advising the host if something’s come up…
  • Sending a brief, handwritten “thank you” note or even a quick email when someone mails you a gift (so at the very least, they know you’ve received it), and
  • Being spatially aware, especially when walking (four abreast is not pathway-savvy behaviour) or walking on bikeways (and if you do, not getting upset when someone tells you to get off the bikeway – it is for your own safety after all!).

These are really all simple acts of respect for others that seem to have dropped off the radar.

Yes! Bring back etiquette training… and possibly extend it beyond ‘kids’, because they’re not the only ones who’ve forgotten (or never learnt) the simple art of manners.

Perhaps actually sitting at the dinner table to eat would be a good start. With the television off. 

Did I mention I’m in training myself – for being a grumpy old woman… fun.

elle x


*image source:




2 responses

28 09 2009

I also hate it when people park their trolleys in the MIDDLE of the asile!

28 09 2009

I agree, Jennifer. I guess they’ve never worked out it’s not ‘all about me’!!

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