Etiquette Week 2013 continues to teach you how to be a better person today with tips and tricks on navigating your local grocery store. From swiping samples to queuing up properly to the freezer doors, we have you covered.
Whether you're at Costco or Whole Foods, samples are god's gift to you, and you should take advantage of them. Yes, you may avoid samples for fear of human social interaction or conflate "hi" and "wow" when addressing the person manning the sample table, awkwardly blurting out "why!" or "how?" as you pass them. You may feel guilty for taking more than one cube of cheese or mini pizza bagel. But that person does not give a shit whether you eat one or three samples. Life is long and full of disappointments, so go ahead and treat yourself.
Queue Like a British Person
Line etiquette varies from location to location and chain to chain. Your Whole Foods and your Bi-Rites seem to have this figured out with one line leading to multiple cashiers. Your neighborhood Safeway, on the other hand, is guaranteed to be a clusterfuck in which people disregard express lane limits, jump lines willy-nilly and will inevitably need to write a check. And may heaven help you if you try to check out at a Trader Joe's during the evening rush for microwave Pad Thai. In these cases it's best to just pick a line and resign yourself to whatever chaos might emerge from the cart in front of you. Those magazines are there for a reason.
Want to have some fun? Go to the Safeway on Church at 3 a.m. There you will find many wonders of humanity, from the straight-laced mom buying groceries for a full week to the individual purchasing a handle of vodka, Pepto-Bismol, condoms and Corn Nuts. But despite how much you might want to guess about people and their lives judging from their purchases, don't judge (or if you do, don't try to chat about it!). We've all bought weird stuff and that doesn't mean you know who we are or what we're all about. When you see me at Safeway buying a bouquet of flowers, a pint of ice cream and a frozen pizza, please don't say "Date night?" to me. Because it isn't date night. Not by a long shot.
Your Indecisiveness Is Killing Everyone Else
When you're staring at a breakfast cereal selection that has not changed since the early 90s, it really can't be that hard to pick out what you want. If your brain is saying "Kashi," but your inner nine-year-old is screaming for Fruity Pebbles, do yourself a favor and get the Fruity Pebbles. And then get out of the way so we can reach the Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Save your indecisiveness for the fancy cheese section, where people expect that sort of thing.
Don't Browse with the Freezer Door Open
It will fog up the other windows! And then what? AND THEN WHAT?
Start the Bagging Yourself
Though places like Trader Joe's and Whole Foods try to have baggers on hand during peak hours, this is not always the case, and is often not the case at Safeway or Bi-Rite. If, like a good and environmentally conscious San Franciscan you've remembered to bring your own bags, you should just start loading those up as your items get scanned and after you've slid your debit card, just to keep things moving. In this day and age, we should no longer expect that this will always be done for us, and it's not like you have anything better to do than chit-chat about the quality of peanut butter with the cashier.
Did You Break and/or Spill Something?
Rather than leaving behind a mess, simply ask a store employee to clean it up. They won't judge you and they'll wipe it up posthaste.
Be Aware of Yourself and Your Luggage
If you're navigating the tiny aisles of your neighborhood grocer, or TJ's, with an overstuffed backpack on your back and a basket full of wine and pre-made salads at your front, you will need to move gingerly about the store and with the kind of care that you should be using on public transportation. Some of us, when knocked in the ribs with your backpack full of rocks, aren't too polite to shove back.
Control Your Children
Understandably, you cannot always leave the children with the Governess. When you must bring your wee ones to the store, please keep them tied around a virtual leash. For your sake and -- far more importantly -- ours.
Jay Barmann, Andrew Dalton, Rose Garrett and Brock Keeling all contributed to this report.
Previously: How To Behave On Facebook
How To Drive In San Francisco Without Being A Total Idiot
Read Etiquette Week 2012 here.