The problem: So, I’m nicely checking out the various salad dressings in the grocery store, when someone says, “Excuse me,” like they want to get in there. Why is what they want to do more important than what I’m doing?

Low road: Tell your fellow shopper that you’ve been hired onto the store’s important Botulism Elimination Team and you’ll be ready to give the green light to every salad dressing on the shelves within … hours. “So, please, just sit tight.” 

High road: Your fellow shopper does want to get in there, and I’m quite sure no personal judgment of your languorous selection process is intended. He or she is in a different shopping zone, likely feeling rushed to get home and dress that salad for hungry kids, or marinate that meat, or stare longingly across the dining room table at Paul Newman.

Think of this as just another example of what you experience all day. The person who passes you in the hallway at work. The biker who (one hopes) calls out “On your left!” as he zips by as you enjoy a more leisurely pace. The freeway driver who signals, then passes carefully, with a smile, of course. How lucky you are to not be locked into the frenetic pace most of us experience as we muddle through tasks of daily living. That’s especially true in the grocery store, which is a deep sea of stress, with its crowded aisles and screaming toddlers, price increases and long checkout lines. Plus, we’re all hungry!

Please step back graciously. Allow the rushed, the tired and the distracted to grab their balsamic and go. In a mere five or 10 seconds, you’ll be back mulling the many tasty options available to you, without causing an oil and water situation. 

Read more of Gail’s “High Road” columns at