The Mute Lurker

Do good manners count for something?

It doesn’t cost much to open the door for someone, hold the lift, greet a local Vandemonian with nod and a smile, or help some poor mum with a gazillion kids and a stroller on to the bus. Someone’s gotta help them, right?
Don’t you think good manners is one of the nice things about Hobart?
We reckon Hobart has some big city advantages coupled with small town good behaviour. You know how most people can still say good morning to random strangers. We like that. A lot.
But then there’s the mute lurker phenomenon that’s doing This Girls’ head in:
Are you able to say, ‘Excuse me, would you mind if I squeeze by?’
How hard do you reckon it is? I’m beginning to think it’s comparable to finding an Israeli-Palestinian solution given the growing mute lurker phenomenon in Hobart.
There’s plenty of mute lurkers at my gym.  They’re usually hovering behind you when you’re awkwardly trying to get into your knickers after a class.  I used to like to think that most of these lurkers were simply waiting patiently for you to dress and move out of the way.  Sort of an act of grace rather than poor manners.
But more recently I’ve been wondering otherwise.
Take the dude at the Hill Street Grocers New Town edition, positively lurking, basket poised, behind my companion as we were hold up in front of the meat fridge discussing dinner options. Yes. She was in the way.
No. It wasn’t possible to pass us.  But why was it SO terribly hard for this older gent to say…’excuse me’

Clearly the answer to this question was no, given after five minutes (no exaggeration, I think we’d moved from dinner options to the state of Tasmanian politics at this stage), I realised he wasn’t having the same difficulties as us…and in fact…didn’t want anything from the fridge at all. But simply couldn’t find it in himself to say as much, or take an alternative route. He just preferred to lurk. Mutely.

Okay. Now it’s time for true confessions. I took the low road. Equanimity was not my friend. ‘So’ said I, ‘Sorry. Did you want to get past?’ ‘Well that’s WHY I was waiting here’ his response positively dripping with sarcasm. At this point I wish I could blame hormones.

‘Well. Mate. If you’d asked her to move, she would have done that for you.’

Note – My companion hadn’t realised he was had been standing behind her.

‘Well I thought she might have realised she needed to move…. intuitively.’ Intuitively? WTF? Oh that’s setting the bar high.

It was a Shut the F up moment. Except I didn’t. ‘Mate…what’s she supposed to do, READ YOUR
MIND??!!’

He answered in the affirmative and I spewed caustic about his incapacity to articulate himself as he fled down the aisle towards the dried biscuits.

Then, this week, it happened again with a younger guy…..

The moral to this story is…don’t go shopping without your manners and if you cross paths with someone who has….don’t engage…just get out of the way.

And p.s. I keep running into him. Bloody small town Hobart is.  He’s probably related to someone I know and I’ll end up at BBQ with him soon.  Sigh.

You can find most things you need and many more things you might want, at Hill Street Grocers.  If you haven’t, check them out on their webpage here.

What good manners are missing from your grocer’s?
What’s your favourite way of showing off your good manners?

6 thoughts on “The Mute Lurker

  1. Dear Two Girls About Town,
    Manners were missing from my local post office (not quite the friendly grocer), but it suits the story line. It was 7:30am (they open early in Cairns) and there was an old man in front of me. Together we made a queue. The female post office attendant had no intention of serving us, one of those gifted people, highly versed in the art of looking busy. (If you are unfamiliar with the concept I highly recommend the Myer Cosmetic Counter). So, a devout thespian to her role I wondered how many recruits she was seeking before she would engage her services. I ignored the rest of her performance and watched the old man in front of me move from hip to hip. It was during this hypnotic state he made his move towards the counter. She was challenged by the approach and gave him an over compensatory smile. He said slowly "I don't mean to intrude upon your good nature…but it is somewhat limited. Isn't it?"…

  2. Dear Tess
    You've found the Customer Service Officer, sans 'customer' and 'service' and you were the customer! Woo Hoo! You've upped the stakes completely.

    Our personal wish, to have as articulate and concise and poised and precise come back as your hypnotic gent. Power to the people! Thanks for posting!
    xxxx from Two Girls About Town

  3. Today I found good manners missing from my bus. That won't come as a surprise to most of you. This was a trifecta.
    Firstly, upon boarding, nobody met my eye or moved out of the way when I asked politely if I could get past. Picture this, there are seats up the back of the bus. There's a scrum standing up the front and they're not moving. Given the bottleneck, I ended up pushing my way past. It was awful!
    Secondly, a chose a seat near the sweaty fleshy adolescent and sat pressed up against him because he wasn't going to move and I wasn't going to fall off the seat.
    Thirdly, as soon as I could I moved to an empty seat and proceeded to immerse myself in my phone. Not long afterwards, I felt a tugging at my handbag (see above, I was wearing it crossways – no buttons today), then there was a young woman sitting on my handbag…really, sitting on it. WTF?
    'Luve' I said 'I'm happy to make room for you BUT YOU HAVE TO ASK!!!!!!'
    Sigh!

  4. I am scared to enter my favourite branch of Hill St now. There are times lately when I am so tired I am lost for words. Take earlier this week when I was finished my shopping and headed from dairy to the till. There was a woman looking at the spices on the end of the aisle. That's right – turn around and you are in the meat section. I assumed she would only be a moment finding her spice, so thought it would be most polite to wait. I was in no huge rush and didn't see why she shouldn't make her selection without harassment. However it soon became evident she had either never seen spices before or was considering totally replacing her spice cabinet. At this point I had been in her peripheralsl vision for too long for me to not feel I was being rude, and I just couldn't think what to say. Too tired. So I went down the aisle towards the flours, nuts, etc and escaped to the tills past the deli. Now I'm scared that if it was you I would have been yelled at and would have burst into tears. Please, don't yell at the tired woman in Hill St!

  5. Dear Snuva
    Who could yell at you? I'm sure if we saw you we'd want to tell you how beautiful your baby is. And if not, we'd appreciate that you just chose a different route.

    You raise a good point however, you can't always know someone's motivation. Sometimes we all go to the grocers in a zombie state and it's never a good idea to try and string a sentence together.

    Never fear, Skye is more concerned with taking the bus and having to press herself up against random strangers, front on, who won't move EVEN WHEN ASKED.

    Thanks for posting and p.s should you be driving? Take care. And remember, this too will pass. At some stage your babe in arms will be old enough to turn the DVD player on so you can sleep in.

  6. My driving is semi safe because I have the tunes of Weird Al blasting to keep me awake and singing. So yeah, perhaps not a great idea to be driving but don't keep me confined to the house. That is when mummy starts to lose it!

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