Good manners cost nothing - unless you shop at Sainsbury’s where a lack of etiquette could leave you slightly more than a little red-faced.
That was the case for 26-year-old Jo Clarke who while gossiping on a mobile phone at the checkout was told under no uncertain terms by the assistant to hang up if she wanted to be served.
An indignant Miss Clarke has since slammed this individual for “rudeness”, demanding apologies from Sainsbury’s, in Crayford, Kent, and taking her fury to the newspapers.
She claims she was so shocked she abruptly hang up on her conversation as the woman behind the till dug in her heels and refused to serve her.
This story in the Evening Standard reminded me of a situation I witnessed fairly recently while queueing to pay at a supermarket checkout.
The woman in front was also on the phone talking to someone about how the planning of a party that evening was “stressing me out man”.
I remember it so vividly is because this woman allowed most of the store to hear the ins and outs of her party-planning anguish.
With the phone tucked under the side of her cocked head and purse in hand she continued to blare away while nodding and grunting at the assistant.
“Are you collecting the coupons madam?” - ‘grunt’
“How many bags do you have” - nods to the trolley with two fingers held up.
“Please put your card in” - ‘grunt’.
“Thank you, have a nice day” - “So I told ‘im I’m not having all them kids round........”.
She shuffled off with not so much of a nod of thanks to the assistant, or an apology to those behind who were held up by her gossip-stalled faffing around.
Back to Miss Clarke and I have to say I applaud the Sainsbury’s checkout woman for standing her ground and striking a blow for common sense and decency.
If her experience was anything like the one I witnessed she had every right to demand a basic level of respect.
Speaking on mobile phones while you are in the company of others is rude, plain and simple, and I hate it.
It annoys me when I am at dinner with people as they tweet and text with their heads crooked over their headsets while I try to make conversation.
I hate people barging into me in the street because they haven’t seen me as they peer down at their mobile phones.
And I hate it when, as happened to me in my local grocery store just this week, I come to pay and the assistant sits nattering on the phone pointing to the price on the till holding his other hand out.
The fact Miss Clarke felt she was hard done by highlights a gradual erosion in our society of simple good manners.
Sainsbury’s has apologised saying it “isn’t our policy to not serve customers who are using a mobile phone”.
I think they should make it so and hopefully their checkout assistant will get a well-deserved a pat on the back from her boss.