WWYD: Annoying the Other Shoppers

In this installment of “What Would You Do,” inconveniencing people at the grocery store:

I was at the grocery store this weekend and spent $200 on STUFF because I have family in town this week and I want my house to be stocked. As the grocery store clerk was ringing up my items, I realized I had forgotten to grab a case of sparkling water, which is what my mom likes to drink.

“Oh, I forgot to get something,” I told the clerk. And to the guy standing in line behind me: “Do you mind if I run and get it?” He smiled and said it was fine.

The case of water ended up being too heavy for me to carry to the register, so I had to find an employee to help me. When I finally got back to the clerk, there was a line of people and they were all glaring at me. I apologized to the clerk and the man for taking too long. They told me it was fine, but I could tell the man was exasperated and just wanted me to go. I feel terrible about it. What would you have done in this situation? — S.

This one sounds like a no-brainer to me: After (unintentionally) making a 30-second run for a forgotten item into what I’m guessing is at least a five-minute run and annoying a line of people, the only thing you can do in that situation is to finish that transaction as quickly as possible and get the heck out of there.

I wouldn’t beat myself up too much over it if I were you. Dashing for a forgotten grocery item is common. The only way to avoid this next time is to not dash. If you forget something, finish your transaction. You can then go back and grab the thing you forgot and get back in line again. That way, the only time you’re taking up is your own.


Email me your WWYD experiences to me with “WWYD” in the subject line. See previous installments.



19 Comments / Post A Comment

ArizonaTime (#2,694)

I did this yesterday! As for Mike’s advice, yes I get that, but when you’re in line at TJ’s and have been for 20 minutes and will be for another 10, I’m not going back through that line. Then again in my situation you’re not really holding people up…

DickensianCat (#971)

@ArizonaTime I have rarely been in a line at a NYC TJ’s where the person in front of me hasn’t forgotten something and sheepishly asked me if it’s okay to run and get it. I’m fine with holding someone’s place in line and always say “sure,” but I get a little grumpy at having to move their own usually overflowing basket forward along with my own, not gonna lie.

ArizonaTime (#2,694)

@DickensianCat touche. It probably annoys me too, but then I don’t ever think about it again until the Billfold runs a piece on the topic haha.

@DickensianCat At the TJ’s on the Upper West Side, employees usually work the line offering to pick up things from the lower level that people might have forgotten. Love them!

Ehh I think once I realized it would have taken me longer than I thought, I would have just gone back to the line and gotten the water after I paid for my other items. It gets to a point where running back for something is rude to the other line members and the cashier, who’s trying to get everyone out of the store. Once it stops becoming a “run and get it” or a “dash” scenario, return to the line.

Grocery lists: never leave home without them! (and a pen to cross everything off!)

joyballz (#2,000)

Maybe just me, but I wouldn’t go back unless there was no one in line behind me. Even then, I’d probably finish and come back through a second time.

And if someone in front of me asked if it was okay if they ran back I wouldn’t know how to politely say “No, please finish and then go back to get what you forgot,” so I’d probably just say “sure, fine,” and then be annoyed that it took so long.

Elsajeni (#1,763)

@joyballz Right, there’s no good way to say no to that kind of request. It’s the same from the cashier’s end — I can’t really tell a customer they can’t do that, so I have to either wait for them (and annoy everyone else in line by making them wait) or suspend their transaction and put it aside until they get back (and either annoy them if I make them wait in line again, or annoy everyone else by “letting someone cut” if I don’t).

sunflowernut (#1,638)

I think once I realized I wouldn’t be able to lift the case of water by myself, I would have just gone back to the register empty handed. But still, this type of thing happens and it isn’t the end of the world.

However, I will say, that most of the time when I am the person in line behind whoever needs to go back and get something, I NEVER see them rushing. That is what pisses me off more than anything.

jfruh (#161)

I once was going through the line and was buying three cases of soda and the checkout lady was like “Oh, it’s buy three get one free, you really need to get another one,” and I was like “haha, well, I guess I missed out this time,” and she was like, “NO, REALLY, GET ONE, it’s ridiculous, you’re turning down free soda” and wouldn’t let it go! I ended up running to get another one but was wracked with anxiety the whole time (and naturally I couldn’t find one in the spot where they usually live and had to get a case off the end cap).

faustbanana (#2,376)

@jfruh I imagine you frantically running to and fro between the usual spot and the end cap, wracked with confusion and indecision, until you finally collapsed into a sobbing heap on the floor.

honey cowl (#1,510)

I would never, ever make people in a line wait while I ran around the store getting things I forgot. I would be mortified to make other people wait! Imagine the horrible things they are thinking about me.

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

So your time is more important than everyone else’s in the line because you have family visiting and you forgot something? Sorry, pay and go to the end of the line with the item you forgot, especially if you care what other people think.

Megano! (#124)

If the line up was really long and it was a really busy time at the store (say, after work), I would absolutely not have gone back to get it and made people wait. Even if the line was currently only like two people, it can blow up pretty fast, and as someone who has been a cashier at a grocery store, it can be pretty stressful! So, get back in line or come back for it.

@fo (#839)

I *seriously* cannot believe all the defense of ridiculous rudeness. It’s one thing if you’re *in* the line (because then, if you aren’t back, the person behind can just skip ahead), but if you are actually being rung up, NO F’ING WAY!! You are being a miserable little self-important a$$hat–you to having to go thru an express lane is THAT MUCH more important than the time of the 3 or 4 or 10 people in line behind you? GTFU!

BTW, I feel the same way about people who wait until the total is rung up to take their wallet out to (1) find their dollars and exact change OR (MUCH WORSE) (2) start writing out their check. NO tolerance for people who think it’s okay to make everyone else wait, just so they aren’t inconvenienced at all.

SD2SF (#3,072)

I think you should have not left in the first place. How did you not anticipate that you couldn’t lift a case of water by yourself? If I was everyone in line, I’d be annoyed with you because you were being inconsiderate of everyone’s time, and impractical to think that you could think that this one little item could get you back in time to pay without delaying the people behind you.
Also I agree with the other commenters that, asking the people if it’s OK if just putting them in a weird spot. It’s definitely not OK.

kitten_witawip (#1,309)

You could have asked the cashier to check you out but let you ring up the one final item as soon as you returned (after they rang out whatever customer they happened to be on). Also how could you not of known how much a case of water weighed? It’s not like water has a variable weight.

AlliNYC (#1,725)

@sheila @kitten_witawip Maybe the only size they had was a family pack and she was expecting a smaller size? Or they were sold out of mini-bottles?

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