Sunday 15 October 2006

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.


  1. Haha… I think the reality of the story got a bit(!) lost in the penultimate paragraph but funny nonetheless. I love the whole ‘after you’ thing, because I always end up going ‘after you’, and then when they look like they’re really not going to move, I take a step just as they do. Cue a repeat of the same thing over again. The best thing to do, as far as I can tell, is to get old and consequently no longer have social etiquette regarding politeness apply to you.

    (And don’t ever try to open a door for someone in Japan… they’ll either think you’re the weirdest thing they’ve ever seen [and they will probably have seen Japanese TV adverts], or freak out, or just not say anything and walk through without acknowledging you and be inexplicably followed by a silent queue of around 10,000 Japanese people none of whom will take the door away from you. Gagh.)

  2. While you were in Sainsbury’s, I was busy enjoying the Oxford Story (a Thord Hird-esque battery powered commode with a mind of its own, straining to push itself past Upper Sixth Art Department crafted waxworks while the narration is already 3 miles ahead of you). Nice to see we balance out on terms of general awkwardness at that particular time!

    I enjoy people who hold the door open for at least half an hour to allow entrance to someone at least a kilometre behind them. Maybe they do it to make up for the fact they were too inebriated to open the big double doors for the poor waiter collecting the empties at their/their friends’ torrentially rainy wedding reception!! (Not that I’m recalling from experience or anything)

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