Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Close Encounters of the Turd Kind

Things are heating up in the 'hood.

I was standing in line at the local grocery store at 5:00 pm, peak time, very long line. A woman placed an overflowing hand basket on the floor behind me, bumping my ankle in the process, and wandered off to collect more items.

I had to move several times because she had blocked off the access lane to the front door, so I nudged her basket back about six inches to make room for people to get by.

A man came along and said, "Who does this belong to?"

I indicated the woman, who was at the deli counter, ordering. Periodically she came back to her basket to make more deposits.

"I don't think it's fair," I said. "I would move up." Which he did.

She came back and said, "Are you together?"

"No," he said.

She raised her voice, "I was next in line."

"You weren't here."

"Are you going to make a big deal out of this?" she sneered.

"I would expect more courtesy and consideration," he replied.

"You're an asshole," she yelled. Everyone turned to look.

"You're still shopping," he said reasonably.

"Am I supposed to stand right here and have them bring my things to me in line?"

(No, you harpy, you're supposed to collect everything you want and THEN get in line.) I didn't say anything, though, because he seemed to have things under control.

Nobody said anything for several beats and then the man inquired, gently, "Do you have everything you need?"

She didn't respond.

"Because I would hate for you to forget anything."

Facing the other way, I smiled to myself.

She suggested that he commit a physical act on himself which is impossible except for circus contortionists.

He didn't bat an eye. "There must be something in the store that you missed. Wouldn't you like to make sure?"

At this point, I was full-throttle laughing.

"I could hold your place in line if you want to check out the back room," he offered.

By now, I was at the check-out stand. "Hi Ishmael," I said to the checker. I parked my hand basket on the counter to take up as much room as possible so she would have to wait to unload her stuff. I can be passive-aggressive with the best of them.

I stopped to pet the most adorable dog I have ever seen on my way out, and then it hit me. I should have invited the man to get ahead of me in line so she would still be directly behind me, but he wouldn't have had to wait for Her Highness to buy $200 worth of groceries. I wish I had thought of it.

Sadly, I'm sure there will be another chance. There seems to be quite a run on rudeness these days.


Anonymous said...

Good grief - the one in the right was being reasonable, the one in the wrong pitching a fit. It seems like some popel are just primed for a confrontation at all times, looking for a chance to vent their spleen. I like the guy's approach.

thailandchani said...

Some people have no concept of their own bad behavior. Clearly, she was one of them. I'm glad she was challenged!


RED MOJO said...

Ha! I'll bet she did plan on getting more stuff and couldn't because he made her look like the ass-hat she was! That's funny!

molly said...

What a gentleman! Excruciating politeness is the best defense against such a moron.She can't appreciate his tactics [because she's such a moron] but what a treat for everyone else in line!

molly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Liz Dwyer said...

I almost want to ask what kind of person behaves like this, but unfortunately, I already know because so many people do.

Clearly, we need to bring back lessons in etiquette, or something!

the walking man said...

I see this everywhere, maybe because I consciously try to be considerate. In traffic, in stores, restaurants, offices it seems as if we only respect the position of the person with the loudest noise maker or deepest throttle.

When did what was socially acceptable change and when did ill behavior become something to be silent about? I know that speaking up can get one hurt, but I would rather face the unknown quantity of what the malefactor has in their pocket then the regret of letting my silence condone boorishness.

I don't know Hearts, maybe my mother did raise a fool.

Bob said...

I don't understand where all of this aggression is coming from. how is her life any better for her selfishness and argumentativeness? it certainly isn't for those around her. maybe she derives satisfaction for making others as miserable as she is.

at that particular moment.

maybe she was having a bad day and let it get the better of her. it doesn't excuse her rudeness but maybe you caught her at her worst and ordinarily she wouldn't act that way.

I'd like to think so.

Kapuananiokalaniakea said...

I laughed SO hard! Thank you!

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I was very impressed with the way he handled it. And yes, she was clearly in the wrong and quite defensive about it.


Just another schoolyard bully, I think.


Oh, she didn't limit herself. She was shopping right up to the time she reached the head of the line.


He was great! I admired him for not backing down and for remaining civil while she exploded.


Good idea! There are far too many people around who feel entitled to special treatment and treat others rudely.


I wish I had thought to offer him my place in line, but as for joining the fray, he had it covered. There was nothing I could have added, and since I tend to be a hothead myself at times, it was better left in his calmer hands.


I suspect that all her days are just like that one because she is rude and hostile and has no concept of fair behavior.


So did I, while also shaking my head in wonder.

Echomouse said...

Ohhhh I had a similar experience with a woman at the post office recently. Unlike you though, I was so shocked by her nerve and rudeness I couldn't speak. Really irked me though.

Jocelyn said...

I adore your stories, always. Your after-the-fact idea was the perfect solution; now you'll be better armed the next time.


Anonymous said...

A typical example of someone who's completely self-centred and utterly oblivious to anyone else's needs. And clearly spoiling for a fight as well. How do people get like that? Some complex psychological knots to be untangled there. The man's pseudo-helpful response was an inspired reaction.

meno said...

It's pretty hard to shame someone with nerve like hers, but i think he might have done it. Bravo!

Glad you were there as a witness.

LittlePea said...

I giggled like a school girl reading this.

Donnetta said...

Hi there, Hearts! I'm laughing as I read this. There's one in every shopping crowd, right? But this one was a real looloo. What a poop.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Post offices seem to bring out the worst behaviors. It isn't only the employees who go postal.


Except there never is a next time once you're prepared. It's like the Murphy's Law of Nonexistent Next Times.


I was full of admiration for his pseudo concern. He baited her so very sweetly.


Nah. She was unrepentant. I bet she's the one who stole my umbrella in a pouring rain several months ago from the same store.

Sweet Pea,

That's exactly what I was doing at the time!


Yep, definitely a real poop.

Thanks for coming by. I've seen your comments elsewhere and am happy to finally have you here.

The Fool said...

C'mon...tell me about Palin. We all know she wears lipstick. Pitbulls don't. And?

heh heh...just a bit of bear baiting from the Northland. And I'm more aligned as a dem, before you assume otherwise. I'm just amused by all the opinion...I'd just like to hear your take fresh.

So, let go already...

The Quiet Rage said...

Love the way you two handled this woman. Perfect.

alphawoman said...

"These" people are everywhere anymore. But, I still laughed at this guys "tact".

Ian Lidster said...

Amazing. Do you believe there is hope for the world? Or, does she represent the new Sarah Palin shopping rules?

Anonymous said...

It's unbelievable to me how entitled people can be. What's more, I see more and more blatant bullying done by adults as if its... normal, usual... even smart.

The bullies have taken over. I admire you and your male fellow shopper for not putting up with it.

I only hope to be as brave when it's my turn.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

No Fool,

You're from Alaska -- you tell me! Are you absolutely sure that pit bulls don't wear lipstick? I'm sure there must be exceptions.


She needed to be handled right out the door, actually.


Yes, wasn't he tactful, though?


It does seem that increasingly, rudeness rules. I think there is always hope for the world, but the world changes so fast that it is usually unrecognizable to the older generations.


So much entitlement, so little time. (So much head-up-assness.)

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

So very well written, I laughed all the way through... was laughing with you when our ever so thoughtful and gallant guy was being cool as a cucumber... and I sank slightly in disappointment that your brilliant and diabolical scheme to put him ahead of you and her behind you both, came after the fact.

'cause it was a good one.

People are awful sometimes, and once in a while there is one brave and courageous soul in the crowd who will stand up and defend the right.
Bravo to this one. He is our hero of the day. They are in short order, he should be celebrated.

Thanks for shining some light on his good deed and her ugliness.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

PS~ I bet she is the one who stole your umbrella way back when. Just the right selfishness for such a stunt.

Peter Clothier said...

Strange that some people seem to think that being rude is just a way of showing how tough you are. Those delegates, last night, shrieking with joy for words they must have thought were strong and uncompromising, but which in reality were simply rude. The respect Obama's people have shown for their rivals despite this kind of provocation speaks well of the man, and of the example he offers.

The Fool said...

Pitbulls don't wear lipstick to pretend they are something that they are not. They have integrity. They are what they are...and upfront about it. They have no need for a masque, so let's not dis 'em.

As for the other one - well, the pitbull reference, like her lipstick, is all tactics...pure marketing strategy.

Buyer beware.

Nuff said.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


It's true. Many of my best zingers only occur to me after the fact. Of course, that may be Nature's way of keeping my mouthy self alive.


Barack Obama is a total class act.

No Fool,

I would never dis a dog. In many cases, I prefer them to humans for the reasons you state and more.

On the other matter, I'm not buying. The more I hear about Palin, the more appalled I am that she is in the race, and if McCain should win will be literally a heartbeat from the Presidency.

Since McCain is the oldest person ever to run for that office, it is absolutely imperative that Obama win not only on his own considerable merit but because the alternatives are too awful to contemplate.

Anonymous said...

How do you attract these people? You are a magnet for this kind of behavior, although, as you said, there seems to be "quite a run on rudeness these days."

I love the man's calm, his questions -- simple, easy and well-placed. He handled it the way I usually wish I did as I walk away. Don't kick yourself for what you didn't do. One can hope that the additional time spent behind the lady just gave the man more time to ask a few more questions.

Mon said...

OMG..that's the funniest thing ever! I'm still giggling.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


You think I attract them? I wonder what that says about me.


Glad I could help. And thank you for visiting my site!

Miao 妙 said...

With or without globalisation, bad behaviour is universal.

Pawlie Kokonuts said...

what a c*nt! was she a former beauty queen runner-up in Alaska? The man in line was delicious.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Yes, bad behavior knows no particular language.


Somehow I doubt it unless they have drastically changed the requirements for beauty queens while I wasn't looking.

Sai Hijara - Ferraris said...

Oh my...how rude! And WOOT for him for pointing it to her the obvious?!

heartinsanfrancisco said...


He never lost his temper as I probably would have. I admire that.

The CEO said...

I think it is critically important to tell these stories, and I thank you for doing it.

Ann Coulter is the pitbull with lipstick.

The Governor of Alaska was a runner-up in a local beauty contest.

I couldn't finish my dinner tonight and brought the remains home from the restaurant. Just as relevant as the beauty queen, in fact, more useful as it will make a nice dinner tomorrow night. What can you do with runner-up in a beauty contest years ago? Besides run her for VP?

Kevin Charnas said...

Man, he handled it well. I'm not so sure I would've been as graceful.

AND I wish, I WISH you would've thought of it sooner!! AH!
That would've been heaven.

I don't think that people are getting any more rude than some of them have always been.

At least, that's what I keep telling myself.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


There are millions of pretty women in the world. There should be other qualifications to run for VP.


It's hard to get a perspective on relative rudeness because we live only so long and in only so many places.

I believe there are aspects of the culture that encourage rudeness which sometimes goes by its other name of Me-Firstness. When other people cease to matter enough, there are no controls on bad behavior.

The CEO said...

I don't think I said being a runner-up in a beauty contest was a qualification for VP.

On the other hand, Cheney may have made being a pit bull a qualification, and that will make the VP Debates interesting. Just my opinion.

I'm really not a Republican, just a cynic.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I didn't think you did or you would have nominated one of the many pretty women who comment here.

Anonymous said...

Good for you - passive aggressive actions are sometimes necessary. At least you did something!

She was obviously socially challenged.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Where have you BEEN? Your site hasn't been updated since early July.
Is everything ok?

"Socially challenged," you say?

Tomatoes, tomAHtoes. I say she was a selfish bitch.

Anonymous said...

After that, I think I might've invited the man out for coffee. What a treat!

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I can be so slow-witted, but I do hope to see him again because I admired his clear-eyed reasoning and restraint.

Jameil said...

wow!! what a jerky lady!! love the suggestion of checking the back room! hilarity!

Sienna said...

Man in line having fun, I love having fun, would be good to meet him.

I say, focus on fun.

A piece of crapactivity is but that at the end of day...

I have the sweetest network at the supermarkets I frequent, little old man that buys bananas, one at a time, and is so quick witted, always asks me at the end of our banter have I got any money for him..

I never carry cash!!

Hearts, shopping is so damn interesting, a concentrated micro-window in time.. look at personalities and how they deal with stuff.


riseoutofme said...

These people are everywhere then?

Wouldn't it be interesting to hear her side of the story?

Or maybe not.

Eastcoastdweller said...

You need to spend some time in Virginia, where the good folk routinely let customers with smaller baskets move ahead of them in line and where I have, in my eleven years of living here, never encountered such rudeness. (o:

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Looks like the whole world is picking on that poor woman.....or at least that would seem to be her perspective. Shopping can be so entertaining.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

I am notorious for 'passive aggressive day late dollar short lightening brilliant' comebacks.

More's the pity.

And perhaps we should all move to Virginia; or at least have our children all raised in the south so that they learn manners.


Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Anonymous said...

Geez. I wish I was as good at handling that kind of rudeness as he was! I have to wonder about people who honestly believe they are that important and entitled!

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I loved it, too, but she didn't do it.


"Crapactivity." I am lost in wonder. You have invented a word that could be very useful in my life.

I think that both shopping and driving give good indications of who a person really is.


I'm pretty sure I know her views on everything: Me First.


I often invite people with fewer items to go ahead of me, but you're right. Folks are generally much more polite in the South, even if they don't mean it. (And I'm not sure that meaning it matters.)


Yes, poor, poor her. Anyone who can escalate from neutral to full-on rage in 3 seconds probably has a problem.


I raised two of my children in the North and the third in the South. They are all polite people. The local culture can only reinforce what people should be learning at home, from their parents.


So do I. There's a lot of such entitlement going on, most of it seemingly undeserved.

Thank you for your visit here!