“I hope you don’t think I’m rude…” she said, pushing into the queue in front of me, “but I’ve got three kids in the car.”
I would have made a fuss – there is nothing like riling up some queue etiquette anger – but I was hot and tired, and I really wasn’t in that much of a rush anyway. Even so, the brief sentence made me think a lot, and I came to three conclusions.
Yes, I do think you’re rude.
I wonder how hard it would have been to ask rather than assume. She was only buying petrol, I was one of those annoying people with a basket full of stuff to go with my fuel purchase. If she’d have politely asked if I’d minded, because she was in a bit of rush, and would only be really quick, then I would have been very inclined to say yes. The end result would have been the same, she wouldn’t have run the risk of an angry confrontation, and we both would likely have gone away with a good feeling about how polite British society is. This way, she got what she wanted but made no friends along the way, whilst I was left with nothing but a moment of fuming and the potential for a blog post.
So, I don’t have three kids.
Having three kids sitting in your car isn’t really a good excuse. It’s not my problem. You’re the one who brought three children to the petrol station. Just because I don’t have children doesn’t make my time any less important than yours.
I hope you don’t think…
What really struck me after this very brief conversation was the sheer genius of uttering those five words. Saying “I hope you don’t think I’m rude…” puts the onus on me to argue against it. The conversation has already gone in a direction that means if I do think you’re rude, then that is unreasonable and weird. It’s also not any kind of apology, showing that she doesn’t think it’s a problem and, again, if you do think it’s a problem, you need to rethink your priorities.
It’s sneaky and it’s clever. I might have to start using it. Not to push into queues though. Don’t mess with queues.