Q. My mother and I went shopping on Black Friday just like we do almost every year. We both noticed there were a lot of rude and obnoxious shoppers this year. Some thought they could cut in front of you in line to pay, or push their way into a spot to look at something that was on sale, and oh the mess in the restrooms. And those dratted cell phone conversations.
Let's just say, we certainly didn't have as much fun as we have had in previous years. Perhaps a few proper shopping behavior reminders might be helpful.
A. Yes, holiday shopping should be fun. Being rushed and being stressed are certainly not justifications for being rude to others at any time, much less during the holidays. Here are a few reminders for proper shopping behavior:
Wear something comfortable and in layers so you can easily remove a layer or two if the temperature in the store gets too warm. When shoppers get too warm, they often have a tendency to start acting in an "overheated or hot" manner. If you can avoid wearing a big bulky coat, do so, because it will become even bulkier when you have to start carrying it along and it gets in the way when you are trying to look at something along with a dozen other shoppers.
Put a smile on your face and tell yourself you are going to have fun. Greeting others with a smile and a hello will bring a smile to their face as well. Smiles and frowns can be contagious, but smiles are more fun.
If at all possible, leave small children at home. They do not have a fun time, and naturally, because they are children, they will require more of your attention, get tired and bored very quickly and add to your stress level.
Be prepared to wait your turn. Never push, shove or crowd others. Be cognizant of, and as careful as possible under the conditions, not to enter others’ personal space.
Be polite and cheerful to all sales people. Remember they can only help one person at a time. Be ready to compliment sales personnel as appropriate to help them have a better day.
Do not carry on a cell phone conversation when in the middle of a crowd of customers, or while transacting business with the sales clerk. If your cell phone rings, answer quickly and quietly and ask if you can return the call later. Or, step out of the crowd into a private area to carry on the conversation.
Texting while shopping is dangerous and is especially dangerous in a crowd of shoppers. You could easily fall because you are not watching where you are walking, bump into a wall or store display breaking merchandise, or bump into someone causing an injury to them.
Remember to say please and thank you. Be polite and respectful to everyone. Be cheerful, even if others are not — and don't get frustrated with sales people if they cannot find what you need.
Just like the rules of the road, when entering a store, go to the right. Walk to the right side of the aisles. If there are more than two in your group, walk behind one another.
Do not block the aisles by carrying on conversations with friends. Say "Excuse me" and "I'm sorry" if you accidentally bump into someone or one of your packages bump into someone.
Escalators are meant for riding, not walking up or down, even if you are in a hurry.
Before entering an elevator, allow those inside to exit. Hold the doors for those with packages, and if you are standing closest to the floor buttons, be kind enough to push floors for others on the elevator. Remember, those closest to the door exit first when the elevator stops.
Be considerate of those standing behind you in line, by keeping your money, your credit cards and coupons readily accessible when it is your turn to pay for your purchases. This also saves the sales clerk's time and reduces his or her stress.
If you try on something in a dressing room, return it to the hangar and place it outside the dressing room on the appropriate rack. Even if someone who used the dressing room before you, left clothes on the floor, do not add to mess. Be considerate of the tired clerk who has to pick up all the clothes on the floor and return each piece to the appropriate rack after the store has closed.
Treat a store restroom as you would treat your own bathroom. Make sure towels are placed in the trash receptacle. If, while washing your hands, water splashes outside the bowl, use a paper towel to wipe it up, and throw it away.
If you are in a shopping mall and decide to eat in the food court, remove all of your trash from your table when you are finished eating and put trays and trash in the appropriate locations or containers. If you are undecided about what you want to order, stand behind those in line until you make your decision and then enter the food ordering line.
Do not carry cupped beverages of any kind into stores.
If you are shopping with a friend, remind yourself that your conversations can probably be heard by all those around you. Therefore, do not criticize anyone, the store, the products, anyone around you and do not discuss private matters of any kind or mention other people by their proper names.
If a heated or inappropriate conversation erupts between other customers or sales personnel, do not get involved, nor say anything. Instead, if at all possible, remove yourself from the location to another part of the store or payment line.
Dianne Isbell is a local contributing writer. Send your etiquette questions to Suzanne Boyle, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.