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CONTEMPORARY COURTESIES, A COLUMN BY KAREN HICKMAN

Pick up good manners at grocery store

Friday, October 18, 2013 - 12:01 am

Q.: Karen, I was in the grocery recently and kept running into a young mother with a child who seemed to be about 2 years old. The mother was on her cellphone and the child was busy clearing shelves and blocking the aisle for lots of people trying to get their shopping done.

The mother didn't seem too concerned about the child's behavior and was very nonchalant about getting the child out of the way. Would it have been rude of me to say something to the mother?

A.: Grocery shopping can be enough of a challenge when the aisles are busy and loaded with people without having to dodge little ones who might get hurt from things falling off the shelves or getting bumped by carts. I think it would be OK to ask a parent, politely, to remove their child from the way of your cart. You could always use the approach of not wanting to bump into them, which, of course would be true.

Good manners at the grocery store will help everyone have a better shopping experience. So here are some guidelines to follow:

•Start in the parking lot. Don't race to edge someone out of a parking space or take up two spaces. And if you are able-bodied, leave the spaces closer to the door for older people, pregnant ladies, or people who have difficulty walking. Just think, parking farther away from the door is a good way to get a little exercise and burn some calories.

•Time your shopping. If you have all day to do your shopping, consider going at a time that is less congested, especially if you have little ones with you.

•Be gracious when getting your cart. Pull one out for the person behind you. Be aware of where your cart is while you are reading labels or looking for something specific. Don't block other people from getting around you in the aisle.

And keep your purse on your shoulder and not in the cart, which is an invitation to get it stolen.

•Shopping with children can be a challenge. But do keep track if them and don't let them get in the way of other shoppers.

•Avoid talking on your cellphone. It is very distracting to others to have to listen to conversations that should be held in private. And it is rude to be talking on your phone while going through the checkout lane. The people checking you out deserve the courtesy of your attention.

•Use the express lane with the designated number of items. And if you have a cart that is filled to the top, allow the person behind you go ahead if they only have a few items.

•Be pleasant to the staff. They are there to help and deserve consideration with please and thank yous. If you drop or break something, offer your assistance in cleaning it up. Don't just walk away from a mess.

•Acknowledge employees who go out of their way for you. Their boss will appreciate hearing that employees are doing a good job.

•If you take your groceries to your car, return the cart to the cart bin. Leaving it stranded in the parking lot risks having it bump into another person's car.

Last, but not least, take your sense of humor with you – it can go a long way.

Karen Hickman is a local certified etiquette/protocol consultant and owner of Professional Courtesy. To submit questions, email features@news-sentinel.com.