There’s only one thing worse than people who are impolite, and that’s those who wish to impose their impeccable manners upon you.
I was subjected to this unpleasant phenomenon in Sainsbury’s today whilst trying to peruse the confectionary section (which, for some reason, is where they keep chocolate bars…not that weird, until you realise that there is a section entitled “chocolate bars” on the next aisle which seems to be entirely filled with biscuits). I stopped and turned to my left, filling my vision with a marketer’s wet dream of logo-covered sugary snack wrappers but, just to my left, a man stopped.
I made the internationally-recognised “after you” gesture to him, to which his instantaneous response was to, slightly irritably, say “No, after you.” Unfortunately, I was exactly where I wanted to be, and as such stood there slightly confused for a second before realising that the only response would be to reiterate my offer; “No, really, you first,” I explained.
This was too much. From his point of view, I had shoved his attempts at social grace back right back at ’im, and it was now a game of one-upmanship on the manners front in a strange and ironic macho stand-off where I think it would be the one to back down first…or rather, not back down last…who would emerge the manlier.
Unafraid of undermining my manhood, but more slightly confused about whose manhood, if anyone’s, was at stake, I thought the only course of action was to be to not back down. I threw manners to the wind and stepped forwards, at slight inconvenience to myself because I was now unable to survey the full gamut of chocolatey goodness available for purchase. Sadly, I was now right in his way.
Some cross noise emanating from the now-irate chap, who had won the manners battle but lost the war of walking down the aisle to continued supermarket shopping, forced me to step back again.
“Where do you want to go?!” he asked, looking faintly exasperated.
“I just want to browse the chocolate bars,” I explained, followed by reciting this whole ’blog entry to draw attention to the error of his ways. Then he drew a gun and shot me.
I spent the rest of the day campaigning for tighter UK gun laws.