Tis The Season To Not Be A Douchenozzle.

Full Disclosure:  I had originally intended this to be a rant about Black Friday or at the very least a set of observations comparing when I used to work retail1 to now.  Honestly, I’ve ranted enough about that topic elsewhere, so I thought I would address the pressing issue of holiday shopping.  

Actually, the things mentioned in this post are in no way specific to the holidays.  These are general rules of thumb which illustrate how to behave in polite society.  However, since the population of shopping areas increases exponentially this time of year, it is a good time to address these issues.

The actions I will be describing are, for the most part, common sense.  Unfortunately, they are all things that I have witnessed from my time on one side of the register or another.

Let’s start outside the building/store/mall.  Specifically, let’s talk about parking lot etiquette.

  • Parking lots, no matter how large, are not substitutes for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a NASCAR track, or Mario Kart’s Rainbow Road.  Try to keep the speed in the extremely low double digits.
  • Cutting across lanes is a shortcut, but it does not give you the right of way.  If someone who is actually following the marked out lanes broadsides you, that’s your own damn fault.2
  • If you take up more than one parking space, you are an asshole.  Period.  I don’t care how new your car is.  Don’t be shocked if my shopping cart slips and rolls into your side panel.
  • If you see someone waiting for a spot and you cut them off and steal it, expect to pay for four new tires and perhaps some window glass.
  • If you are walking and someone stops to let you pass (either across an intersection in the parking lot or on the way to the store’s entrance), pick up your pace.  Do not saunter in the middle of the road.3

This next one is so important that I am putting it all by itself.

Do not start shopping within 10 minutes of the close of business.
Sure, you managed to make it inside before they locked the doors.  That doesn’t mean you can putz around for three hours.  If the store closes at 5, you should have completed your purchase and be outside at five.  There is a lot of work that goes in to closing a retail outlet and making it ready for the next day.  Every minute that you stay inside shopping is another minute that the people who work there will have to stay late.  They have families that they want to get home to, just like you.

Once you are inside the shopping establishment of your choice, there are some other rules to follow.

  • Do not block the aisles.  This means that you should not walk more than two people abreast, no matter how many people are in your shopping party.  If no one can get around you, you are being an ass.  Don’t leave your carts or strollers in the middle of the walkway.  If I am shopping and someone leaves their cart in the middle of the aisle, I will steal it and move it to the next aisle over.
  • Keep your conversations to a dull roar.  Do not shout across the store.  Do not yell at your spouse/child/sibling/clone/whatever.  No one wants to hear your family drama.
  • Do not talk on your phone.  In a similar vein, do not carry on conversations on your mobile in the middle of a public space. ANY public space.  No one wants to hear you shouting to the other party because you have your device set on speaker.
  • While we are at it, no one wants to hear your music, hear/see your movies, or deal with your video games.  You are in a shared, public space.  It is not appropriate to sit down and catch up on the last season of TLC’s Inbred Family Yuk Yuk Time or try to beat your Flappy Bird high score.
  • Do not walk/shop while eating or drinking.  Sit down in a designated area until your consumables are gone.  If you spill your drink on something for sale, expect to pay for that item.  If you spill your drink on someone’s expensive coat, expect that person to beat you about the head and neck.
  • If you decide not to purchase an item, return it to its original place OR give it to an employee. Trust me, it is a lot more convenient to have someone hand you something and say "I'm sorry, I don't remember where I picked this up." then to try and find something which was shelved in the wrong spot.5
  • If you are not shopping, go home.  Building on the last one, retail spaces are just that, places where retail business is transacted.  If you are not there to shop, GTFO.
  • Do not be surprised if popular items are unavailable, especially if you have waited until the last minute to try and purchase them.  Shopping, like much of life, is First Come, First Serve.  If little Billy absolutely has to have the new Proctology Exam Elmo for Christmas, you should try to get to the store before 23 December.

Now for another one that everyone should understand, but most people don’t.

You are no more (or less) important than anyone else there.  I don’t care if you have your own reality show, run a country, or are the high priest of a religion, everyone is equal at the mall.

Let me say that again.


No one gets preferential treatment.  This means no cutting in line, no interrupting salespersons talking to other customers, no throwing a fit when someone else buys the item you were looking for.  Do not monopolize people working the sales floor or the register.  

Many of the following statements relate directly to the previous one.  Hell, the whole damn rant relates to that statement.

Rules for the Register:
  • There will be a line.  Deal with it.  Don’t be pissy about the fact that you have to wait to hand someone your money.  If you didn’t want to wait in line, you should have ordered it on-line.
  • Do not take out your frustrations by insulting the other people in line, the people working the registers, or the retail establishment.  In fact, it’s probably better if you spend your time in line thinking about how happy you are making people by buying them gifts.  Isn’t that why you are at the frakkin mall in the first place?
  • PAY ATTENTION!  Don’t stand there wool gathering or checking your phone, especially if you are at the head of the line.  Instead, take the time to make sure that you have everything you need to purchase and everything you need to make your purchases with.  If the cashier has to say “Next” more than once, you should be forced to go to the back of the line.
  • If you get to the register and realize you forgot something, complete your purchase.  Then go and get the item you forgot and return to the back of the line.  You are the one that forgot something, not the cashier and not the other people in line.  Don’t punish them for your error.
  • STAY OFF YOUR FUCKING PHONE.  You are not so important that you need to call someone the minute you get to the register.  You are making a transaction which involves removing money from your possession.  Act like it.  This is where your attention should be.6
  • Expect to pay.  We live in a society where goods and services are exchanged for currency.  Do not act like you are surprised that you need to pay for the items you are attempting to purchase.   Have your cash, credit card, or debit card ready.  Don’t be fumbling in your wallet.  You should have used your time in line to be ready for the act of purchasing.
  • Don’t pay with checks.  Seriously, it’s not 1974.
  • If the cashier asks for your ID, be happy.  That means the establishment where you are shopping cares enough about its customers to make sure that no one is trying to commit credit fraud.  The establishment is doing this to protect you from identity theft.  Remember, it is just as much of a time consuming hassle for the cashier as it is for you.
  • If you have a coupon/gift card/discount card/gift receipt request, present it at the START of the transaction.  The moment the cashier has told you your total is not the appropriate time to start rummaging in your pockets or purse.
  • Once you have completed your purchase, get out of the way.  Move to the end of the counter before looking for your glove or car keys and buttoning your coat.  Remember how annoyed you were at that person who was holding up the line?  Don’t be a hypocrite.7

If we all follow these simple rules, we can all get through the next month without killing each other.  Really it just boils down to not being a jerk-ass, treating others with the same dignity and respect that you would want, and being polite.  

That’s not so hard, is it?

1  In the late 80s/early 90s.

2  I saw this happen last night to a coworker. She was driving correctly and was cut off by a vehicle cutting across many lanes without looking. That vehicle was the shopping center security van.

3 No officer, I didn’t
hit him.  I just nudged him with my fender.

4  Remember that time your boss walked into your office at 4:30 and dropped the Jenkins file on your desk and told you to finish it before you went home?  Remember what you muttered about your boss under your breath?  Congrats, you just dropped the Jenkins file.

5 Odds are, someone will want to purchase that item at some point and no one will be able to find it because it was placed haphazardly by a jerk-wad shopper. Think of how annoyed you would be if you wanted to buy the last Whateveryourkidwants in the store but no one could find it because it was mis-shelved.

6  How would you feel if the cashier was talking on the phone while ringing you up?  That would be pretty unprofessional as well as downright rude, wouldn’t it.  Don’t be a hypocrite.  The universe hates hypocrites and goes out of its way to punish them.

7  See above.

8  Don’t answer that.

9  Phrasing.