Whether we like it or not, agree with it or not, judgments will be made about us. If we do not take into consideration how we look or act, these judgments may not be in our favour. Furthermore, these assumptions may not only be made about us but could be made about our positions, our departments and/or the organizations we work for. Therefore, it is very important to put thoughtful consideration into our appearance and behaviour.
I often have conversations with people about how society has lost it’s courtesy and civility. It often leads to discussions of entitlement and how our youth today, don’t seem to have the understanding of manners and decorum that once used to be taught in school and practiced at home. Then, you sit by the young gentleman in a small plane who gets up and assists you to your seat and starts polite conversation and you realize that all is not lost in the world of polite society. When instructed to turn off all electronics, he did so promptly and stowed it in his carry-on. He indicated he was a university student travelling to visit some friends for a weekend party. If he had of told me that first, I would have judged him as one of those youth that I often talk about with my adult cohorts. I was impressed with his ability to manage conversation, make eye contact and use the most impeccable manners throughout the flight. I didn’t point out the impression he made on me for fear of embarrassing him but I want to pass it on – especially to young people out there – manners and courtesy are never out of style. Make courtesy a habit. You never know who you are going to impress with it.
Inspired by a conversation I heard on my favourite radio morning show this week, I thought I’d write about the unwritten rules of Grocery Store Etiquette. It stemmed from a trivia contest about self-check-outs at many grocery and department stores these days. It then morphed into a chat about pet peeves, not only at the self-check-outs but shopping experiences in general. Have you ever been frustrated by your visits to the supermarket because of what you felt was “rude” behaviour of other shoppers? I certainly have and I know my husband has since he groans every time he needs to go. These are some rules I try to keep in mind when shopping:
1. Observe express lanes as “express” – These are the lanes for people who only have a few items and want to get in and get out fast – hence the “express” in the title. I figure if I can hold all my items in my arms than I’m probably safe to use this lane and this is typically less than 8 items. In one experience, I was behind a gentleman who had a shopping cart heaped with groceries and he put on 8 items, paid for them, then put on the next 8 items, paid for them and so on. I would have went to another lane but it was a day before a long holiday weekend and the other lanes were packed also. The store clerk had to finally tell him that “1-8 items” meant that he was only supposed to have a maximum of 8 items only. Being the polite person she was, she continued to check out his purchases but warned that he shouldn’t do that again (much to my aggravation).
2. Place the divider bar on the belt when finished placing all items – Although I don’t get too upset if someone doesn’t follow this rule, I do appreciate it when it is practiced. It says that the person ahead is considering me and making a small gesture to let me know that I am welcome to place my items alongside theirs at the check-out. Small but not insignificant.
3. Pull cart to the side when checking items on the shelf – Aisles often have only enough room for two passing carts in order to get optimum use of the floor space to display items for sale. It is not considerate to leave your cart in the middle of the aisle while you compare labels or make decisions on which item to purchase. Make sure your cart is off to the side so others may pass. Of course, you also want to be sure not to leave your cart parked too long to the side if there are others waiting to pick out items that are blocked by your cart.
4. Put the cart in the cart-corral when finished – There are usually designated areas in the parking lots or stores, conveniently located, to gather carts when shoppers are finished. It isn’t just for courtesy’s sake, to return your cart to one of these areas, it is also for safety’s sake. A parking lot cluttered with stray carts is hazardous. When returning my cart, I also like to take the extra effort and interlock it with the carts previously placed. It will allow space for more carts and it will make the cart retriever’s job a little lighter.
5. Have your cash, debit or credit card ready – While waiting for the cashier to scan your items, get your payment ready. This will allow you to complete your transaction promptly, saving time for you and the others waiting behind you.
Are there other rules that you like to follow when shopping?
Volunteering at a recent event, I was amongst 4 retired gentleman. Each of them was probably around the age of 60. The event lasted a few days so I had the pleasure of these gentleman’s company for the duration of that time. We checked in at Volunteer Headquarters every morning and then caught a shuttle bus to our designated work areas. I couldn’t help but notice the overabundant politeness that seemed to take place. Each of them insisted I enter the shuttle first, they stood if I stood, they would open and hold the door for me and wait until I went through first. On one occasion, I got on the shuttle after everyone else and the bus was full. At least two of the them quickly stood up and offered their seats. I indicated that I was okay but they were insistent that I take one of their seats. I didn’t want to create a scene or not respect their expressions of courtesy so I took the seat.
I wouldn’t say this behaviour was foreign to me but it certainly wasn’t something I was used to on a regular basis. I know from my university days, when feminism was at its peak, men offering to do anything for women created somewhat of a controversy. Perhaps that is part of the reason it isn’t as prevalent so much any more. For me though, I liked it. Men or not, being met with courtesy, grace and respect – it was a good thing.
What do you think of when you think of civility? Is it putting up with the in-laws when they drop in unannounced? Maybe tolerating the sniffling of the co-worker in the cubicle beside you. Or do you think of keeping your dog fenced in yard so he doesn’t do his business on someone else’s lawn. Do you ever consider your respect for the environment as an act of civility? Let’s not forget that we are only borrowing this space on earth while we are here. Respecting the elements is important for everyone now and those to come.
Here are 5 Ways you can help the environment from fellow blogger, Kelly Allen. Even if you already do these, it’s always a good reminder to know that even the small things can add up to a big difference in the end. Please read:
My high school English teacher and dear friend tagged me on a Christmas meme. I love these things and I especially love the holiday season and so of course I wanted to dive right in. Please feel free to copy and paste in your blog.
Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
I love Egg Nog during the holidays but nothing beats hot chocolate on a cold winter’s day or night; especially after toboganning or skating. It brings back many wonderful memories of childhood.
Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
Santa uses very distinct wrapping paper and is meticulous about his wrapping. And his gifts don’t go under the tree, they are the ones set out in front because they deserve the most attention.
Coloured lights on tree/house or white?
It was coloured lights when I was little but now I love the twinkle of white lights. I have wee ones at home and they love the coloured lights. My oldest – 7 – goes crazy with the lights and wraps them around everything. I don’t share his enthusiasm for the explosion of multi-coloured lights around the house but I let him have his way. It will be all too soon when he won’t want to be such a willing participant in the decorating.
Do you hang mistletoe?
No. But I love to get caught under it with loved ones at someone else’s home.
When do you put your decorations up?
The rule growing up was “nothing before December 1st”. I hated that rule. So, the rule in my house is any time after Remembrance Day. I love the Spirit of Christmas and I want it to last as long as possible.
What is your favourite holiday dish?
Definitely the turkey with all the fixings. Sharing in this meal with family is so special. There are so many memories …
Favourite Holiday memory as a child?
Sitting in the living room with only the light of the Christmas tree and listening to “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”. There was a feeling of awe and magic that I think one only gets as a child.
When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
I’m still learning. I believe Santa is much bigger than the man in the red suit. He’s a spirit full of magic and love and hope and peace and all that is good and he passes that spirit on to all those who believe.
Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
Only if it’s pjamas. But even then, I like waiting.
How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
My husband has to assemble it because it’s too heavy for me but then my boys and I hang the ribbon and ornaments. Usually, the bottom three feet of the tree of packed since that’s as far as the boys can reach. That means there aren’t many ornaments left for me to hang on the upper limbs. It makes me smile.
Snow! Love it or Dread it?
I wish I loved it. I’m not a confident winter driver so I find the snow a bit intimidating. And being in Canada, snow is (usually) plentiful at Christmas.
Can you ice skate?
I sure can. Now if I just had a pair of skates.
Do you remember your favourite gift?
When I was ten, my sister (5 at the time) and I, literally, saved all our pennies to buy a computer. At that time, the Commadore Vic 20 was hot on the market. We had spent that summer collecting beer and pop bottles, grew pumpkins to sell in the fall and held a yard sale. My parents were so proud of our efforts that they surprised us with the computer on Christmas day. My sister and I were stunned. We fully expected to pay for it ourselves. We were able to spend our hard-earned money on games and accessories for the computer.
What’s the most important thing about the Holidays for you?
The spirit. People give and share. Family and friends get together. Children watch Christmas classics and get so excited. It’s so special.
What is your favourite Holiday Dessert?
Pie. I like pumpkin and chocolate. I think I’d have to say that chocolate is my favourite. Anything chocolate is awesome!
What is your favourite holiday tradition?
My younger self wouldn’t believe this but it’s going to church with family on Christmas Eve. There is just something about that service that gives me goose bumps. I feel connected to all those important to me, past, present, with me in body and spirit. It moves me.
What tops your tree?
It used to be an angel but now it’s a star if we can get it stay on top of the tree. It’s a bit heavy.
Which do you prefer giving or receiving?
Giving. It’s so much more fun to give – especially when you know you’ve got something for someone that they will love.
What is your favourite Christmas Song?
I’m not sure I have a favourite song but I definitely have a favourite album. Christmas with Conniff is hands-down my favourite. No one in this era even seems to know what I’m talking about when I mention Ray Conniff because he was a musician from back in the days of my grandparents who haven’t been with us for over 25 years. But, Grandpa would pull that vinyl album out every Christmas, skips and all, and we would sing along to it. It took me many years and lots of searching to find it on CD. When I did, it was one of the best gifts I gave to my mom. Lot’s of memories with that one.
Candy Canes: Yuck or Yum?
The first couple are yummy then I get sick of them pretty quick. I do like bits of candy cane sprinkled on chocolate or in my cocoa but for a hint of mintiness.
Favourite Christmas Show?
I know it’s not the classiest, but I have to say Christmas Vacation. That’s the one that I look forward to every year. I also like watching Rudolph and How the Grinch Stole Christmas with my boys. Those are some classics. Oh, and Love Actually. I like that one too.
Saddest Christmas Song
Honestly, if it’s sad, I usually change the station. I can be sad at other times, Christmas, for me, is about Joy.
Some people just stand out. At the grocery store, maybe it’s that one cashier that you always go to, or the guy in the suit standing next to you in line at the bank machine. For whatever reason, some people just “catch our eye”. What is about them? Are you one of those people? Not sure? Here are some things to consider if you want to “get noticed”:
1. Posture – Memorable people walk, stand and sit with their heads up and shoulders back. They are looking forward and don’t shy away from making eye contact with anyone in their path. It’s easy to blend into a crowd with your head down or shoulders slumped. Good posture sends the message that you are confident.
2. Eye Contact – Eye contact is crucial. When someone looks into my eye when I am talking, it lets me know they are listening. If they are talking, I can pick up on other communicative clues. Either way, I want to share in a conversation when someone is looking at me. No eye contact and I will probably loose interest or assume the other party is not that interested in me.
3. Conversation Initiator – I feel as though I’m the conversation starter usually so when someone starts a conversation with me, I take notice. I realize that this can be intimidating for many but it’s amazing who you may end up speaking to or what you end up speaking about. I have landed jobs because I was the one who said “hi” to the right person.
4. Dress Well – How you dress can say a lot about you. It doesn’t take a tonne of money either. Ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you wear, it’s how you wear it”? It’s absolutely true. Pay attention to trends and pick clothes that fit you well. If you don’t know what your colour season is, it might be a worthy investment to find this out. Wearing the “right” colours can take you from looking “okay” to looking “FABULOUS”.
5. Be Well-Groomed – This is critical. A person who is well-dressed but doesn’t comb her hair, trim his nails, or shower, stands out for the wrong reasons. When I am “people-watching”, the notable ones have well-coiffed hair, usually finished with some hair product, have nicely manicured nails and smell great.
6. Walk with purpose – I mentioned that posture is important when walking but so is the way you walk. Scuffing or dragging your feet can give the wrong impression. When walking amongst a crowd, it’s a good idea to keep up with the pace. Just like with driving, a slow walker may annoy those behind him who are trying to maintain a steady gate. Those who rush and weave in and out of other walkers can be an annoyance as well.
7. Smile – Smiling just draws attention on its own. It makes people feel happy. It makes you feel happy. People want to be around people who are happy. Remember that. People will notice you if you are smiling. And sometimes, even when you feel the furthest from smiling, forcing yourself to do so can start the process of turning things around so that eventually, you aren’t forcing yourself anymore. Your natural smile just comes through. I always loved that song from the musical, Annie: “You’re never fully dressed without a smile”.