Texting at Cash Registers, Vol. 14, Issue 16

Dear Etiquetteer: I’m here to register another contemporary lack of manners - texting at the cash register. As a preamble, I’m usually pretty chill about navigating public space but several days after this happened, I’m still steamed about it. Here’s what happened:

The day before Passover, I was at a bakery to buy hot cross buns at a popular local food market. There are two lines leading to two cash registers where there’s limited counter space. The woman in front of me was picking up a couple of special order cakes that required special wrapping and bagging. After she received her cakes, she made no effort to leave the counter or even to clear some space for the other people lined up - and she started texting, obviously oblivious to everyone around her. It was not a short text. I was so stunned by her rudeness that I was (perhaps fortunately) speechless. Any words of advice on how to handle this type of situation in the future?

Dear Text-Blocked:

Etiquetteer has often found that a brisk "Excuse me, please!" can be effective in clearing the way. The cashier should have taken the matter in hand by calling out "Next, please!" and waved over the next customer. Should this Oblivious Texter remain just as insulated from the situation as before, you might have approached and said - kindly, without possible annoyance - "Excuse me, but there's a rather long line behind us." Saying it kindly is important, as otherwise you might have to have a big discussion about Feelings, which would hold up the line even more. And, as Etiquetteer has said so often before, no one cares How You Feel; you are still expected to behave with Perfect Propriety.

These situations occur more and more frequently as Consideration for Others is no longer thought as important as Personal Convenience. More and more the Perfectly Proper are having to Speak Up to prod the Uncaring into behaving well. Etiquetteer can't help but be saddened by this state of affairs.


Today is the last day to vote in Round II of Etiquetteer's Spring Madness of Pet Peeves! It is interesting to note that in Round II, the narrowest splits in the voting have to do with Weddings, while the greatest divide has to do with driving-related peeves. Please vote today! And should you have a pet peeve you need to share with Etiquetteer, send it to queries@etiquetteer.com.