I hope you don’t think I’m rude…

“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.

10 thoughts on “I hope you don’t think I’m rude…

  1. These opening statements are always so odd. Things like “I’m not being funny, but…” or “I’m not racist or anything but…”, things that compound the following comment to make them seem what they’re not. It’s quite odd when you think about it, and it’s the same case with this – you know what is following is going to make them seem very rude. And it is rude!

    My issue with queues is when older people just push into them expecting their place at the front. I am more than happy to allow an older person to go ahead of me for a bus, but if they ask geniunely and don’t just barge their way in! Grr!

    So yes, ‘don’t mess with queues’ is definitely correct in the quaint little lands of the UK 🙂

  2. It’s like insults.

    ‘I hope you don’t think I’m rude for saying this, but…’
    ‘I don’t mean anything by this, but..’
    ‘I don’t want to offend you, but…’

    Starting a sentence by saying you don’t want to be rude is such a passive-aggressive preface for causing offense.

  3. It is rude. If she’d started with, “I’m really sorry but do you mind if…” then things would be quite different. The big problem is the assumption that permission is going to be granted by you, what if you were a space astronaut on your way to outer space and you were in a similar rush?

  4. Argh! I really hate parents who do this because then other people a) assume all parents will do this (prejudge) & b) assume that when you are s parent you can do this so do when they are

    I may just need a small rant of my own… Off to make earl grey and mutter!

  5. Yeah, it’s rude. I don’t like people who think they should always get what they want or first dibs on stuff because they have kids. And I’m not talking about compromise here – some parents demand they get better treatment – for example I overheard one woman say “Well I should leave early because I need to pick up my kids as my husband earns much more than you do!”

  6. Nothing good ever came of a sentence beginning with that construction. When will people learn to simply ask for what they want? Reasons/excuses can always be provided if and when it’s indicated they are needed and appropriate. It gets especially bizarre when whatever follows the “I hope you don’t think I’m rude…” is something that is genuinely not rude, or downright polite.

    It’s also worrying when people imply they care more about whether others think they are rude than if they actually are. Not to mention implying that their children cannot keep themselves entertained for five minutes in the car without adult supervision – surely having the child come into the shop and keeping them occupied while in the queue would have been as straightforward and more satisfactory to all parties?

  7. Two different points here:

    1. I agree with the comments above about starting the sentences whereby you are immediately put on the back foot. It’s a bit like watching a police or services drama on telly where the subordinate gets away with speaking their mind as long as they end it “with respect, Sir”.

    2. If this was at a fuel station and she was worried about leaving her children she should have “paid at pump”, then she needn’t have left them at all.

    Manners and consideration is a thing learned from others in society. If the older ones push to the front how then can they complain when younger people do it.

  8. You struck a sensible subject there, I agree with you. I have no problem with letting people go ahead of me (if they have a good reason), as long as they ask politely.
    This winter I had a similar problem at queues for ski lifts. For some reason that escapes me, children believe that as they’re small enough to pass between the people at the queue they can (should) do it. After a while, I just started to open my legs and try to actively blocking kids trying to jump me at the queue. Not nice, but it was very frustrating 😦

  9. Manners and consideration is a thing learned from others in society. If the older ones push to the front how then can they complain when younger people do it.

    That’s an excellent point.

  10. My rebuttal would have been, “No, you PROVED it…” but then, I think straight-talking is a little more highly valued over here, just if anything, to put people in there proper place….

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