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September 22, 2009

Cell Phone Rudeness

So I was picking up some cat litter at Tisol today after work (because that's just the kind of guy I am), and saw one of the most annoying lapses of cell phone etiquette I've seen in a while.  Not quite as bad as driving while talking on your cell, because that's both rude and dangerous.  But this is pretty high on the rudeness scale.

I bring the litter up to the counter and there's a woman in front of me, talking away on her phone.  When the person in front of her is done, she moves her cans of dog food toward the clerk, tosses a $50 bill on top of the food, and keeps talking away on her phone.  The clerk continues the transaction, gives the woman her change, and bags up the dog food. The woman?  YACK YACK YACK YACK.  Not even a thank you as she picks up her food and walks out the door.

I'm next, and another clerk joins the first one and asks me if I need a bag for the litter.  I said no, and then said "You know, I'd hate to interrupt her conversation," nodding my head toward the door through which the other woman had just left.  The second clerk actually said "my conversation?" like I was being nasty to her, but I quickly said "no, hers" and emphasized my head-nod toward the door (the woman was long gone by then).  The second clerk just said "oh, I hate those people.  Whenever somebody does that to me, I just don't say anything to them."  We commiserated a bit more about it while the first clerk rang up my bill and did the credit card (funnily enough, she didn't say anything to me either) and we parted ways.

I worked in retail off and on until 1999, when I finally got my job at UBC.  Thankfully, cell phones weren't quite so prominent back then, so I never had that kind of rudeness directed at me.  Nowadays, it's all to prevalent, though.

If you're in the middle of a conversation when you go up to the till at a store, put them on hold while you complete your transaction.  If your call is that important (and in this case, it might have been, as from the little bit I heard, she may have been discussing putting an elderly relative into a home (on the other hand, she may have been discussing somebody else doing that to their relative)), then don't go up to the till until you're done with it!  Common courtesy, people.  It is an English term.  I know I heard it when I was a kid, so I know it's part of the language.  But people don't seem to understand what it means any more.

I seriously hope that she was rude like that because she was upset about something like having to put her mother in a home.  That would be understandable.  But given the very conversational manner in which she was speaking (and it's not like we could avoid hearing it), I wouldn't bet on it.

Anybody in retail have any similar stories to share?


  1. Hi Dave,

    I can completely relate to how frustrating that is! I remember WAY back when in my banking days a client (important businessman apparently) used to come in with his cell phone (when they were not so cute, colorful, and compact) and talk away while in front of you. The problem is we would have to wait for him to get off the phone to even figure out what transaction he wanted to do! So not only was he now holding up the teller but everyone else in the line up. Fortunately because he was more of an ATM person, he rarely did come into the branch; however, I could not help but become angered everytime I saw him come into the line up already yacking on the phone.


  2. Thanks for sharing, Bernadette! That guy sounds even ruder than my example.

    I would have just said "next!" if he was making me wait, but I guess if he's that important, that would have been a bad thing. :)


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