The problem: When grocery shopping, I sometimes end up pushing my cart behind someone who stops suddenly, or parks the cart in the middle of the aisle without paying any attention to other shoppers. I’ll then notice that he or she is wearing earbuds and is just zoning out. This seems so rude to me.

Low road: A little bumper-car action would get his or her attention.


High road: This behavior is aggravating, especially since it seems to happen only when you’re in a hurry. But people go to the grocery store for a lot of legitimate reasons.

Some rush in for a few basic items. Some come to graze on samples or check out the abundance of new food options. Some go from aisle to aisle filling their carts from top to bottom. And some Zen out with earbuds, maybe to grab a moment of peace before heading to work or a class or home to cranky kids. Who knows?

But here you are, tempted to dump a carton of cottage cheese on somebody’s head. You have a kinder option. Gently tap the person on the shoulder, point to your ears to acknowledge that you know he/she can’t hear you, and ask if you might move your cart around. I’m guessing you’ll get a quick apology and an opening.

If, on the other hand, the person remains rude and unaccommodating, I say bag it and move, temporarily, to another aisle.

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