The holidays are upon us and that means a lot of us will be spending much more time out in stores. While thinking about this, I was thinking about all the types of people that are going to be increasingly difficult to avoid within the next few months...
1. The Talkative Co-Shopper
You're going through the aisles at a store, looking for the items on your list, and this person is next to you. Etiquette should be as simple as not smacking your carts into each other, but this person feels they need to go the extra mile. Apparently, we're buddies simply because we both want cereal. You're getting some Corn Pops too?! Hello new best friend! Look at us, we're two peas - we both wear shirts, we both shop at a place that sells shirts, and we're both doing it right now! We certainly have a lot in common! This person just strikes up a conversation right in the middle of it, as if we've been chit-chatting for the whole afternoon. It's never anything interesting, either. It's always some stupid line about how they've been looking for something that they couldn't find until right now (problem solved, why are you telling me?) or how their kid or husband or friend loves [insert product here]. Extra points are awarded to the old people that feel the need to inform you about their medical problems just because you're buying some cough drops. I'm someone that doesn't mind striking up a conversation with a stranger - but only in certain circumstances. If we're both in line to see the same movie, I might strike up a conversation with you asking what your expectations are for it. If you see me buy something that you're inquisitive about (such as "have you ever tried that before, is it good?"), then by all means, ask away. But just because we're both in the chips aisle and standing next to each other doesn't mean I came over to be your friend...I came over because I want some Cheetos.
2. The Oblivious Mom
I get it, your kids are a pain in the ass and if there wasn't a stigma attached to it, you'd probably dump them in a heartbeat. They're still your responsibility and no one else's. These mothers walk aimlessly around while their attention-starved delinquents run, stomp, make noise, and start screwing things up for the rest of us. Still, the mother doesn't budge. It's as if she doesn't even notice her kids are doing this. Sometimes, that's because she actually doesn't - it's become commonplace and it no longer registers in her mind as something but the norm. Sometimes, she just doesn't give a shit and it's easier to let the kids busy themselves and annoy you than for the kids to annoy Mom. It's a bit similar to when a fat person reaches that tipping point where they stop kidding themselves and they just start buying big, stretchy clothing. Sure, you're taking up more space, making it more likely you'll ruin any furniture you sit on (and trust me, you'll be sitting a lot), and you're an eyesore, but meh, you're more comfortable just accepting your burdens. These mothers have hit the point where they feel they're no longer responsible for parenting their kids. Instead, they're just chaperones to hellions that have to stick around them and all they need to do is make sure they don't get killed. Basically, they're like those levels in video games where you have to protect some pathetic AI character from being shot.
3. The Overly Pushy Helper
I appreciate you asking if I need help, even though I know the chances that you legitimately care if I need help or not is really slim. More than likely, your boss has just told you that you need to ask every customer you see if they need help, but that's moot. Either way, once I tell you that I'm fine on my own, you should take the hint and leave. Don't start riddling me with questions about why I need what I'm buying or if I know what I'm purchasing. If I required some assistance, I wouldn't have kindly told you to buzz off, right? If I do need some help later on, I know where to find you - or any of your other coworkers. In the mean time, I'd like you to stop following me around and let me shop in peace. For a commission job, it goes with the territory as you know these guys clearly just want to hang around you and get your sale - which is understandable and has to be done - but nothing is more bothersome than someone who is up your ass the whole time you're trying to make a decision. Sometimes, I'd rather walk around and think in my own head instead of having you spit a bunch of numbers out at me that mean nothing. It irks me to know that you're just looking at me as a big paycheck. I'm more likely to want to give that sale to someone who wasn't trying to pressure me into buying something simply because they had the decency to follow my suggestion of not needing any help instead of trying to convince me that I was too dumb to do it on my own and MUST be in need of some assistance.
4. The Casual Acquaintance
Yes, I know you, and we may talk at a party for a few minutes here or there, but I'm not that interested in catching up while I'm in the middle of doing something. I came here for a purpose and it wasn't to scout for old classmates to reminisce with. Sure, it's nice to see you (probably), but if we're dedicated to figuring out what we're both up to these days, let's get together and have lunch or something instead and show some real intention and motivation. Everything is awkward about this situation. How long do you spend talking without being rude? What do you talk about? Do you have to bother saying that you'll get together sometime knowing full well that it sure as hell won't happen? Do you acknowledge that if both of you really gave a shit about each other, you would see each other often enough to not have to do this in the first place? Chances are, you're just going to tell me what school you're going to and what job you're working at, and I highly doubt that I care about that small talk. This situation is even worse if you don't exactly remember who the person is, but they clearly remember you. Now, you have to somehow get out of the conversation while dancing around specifics (including their name, hence the "hey man, what's up pal, see you later guy" wording) and do it all in a way that doesn't seem rude. Way too much work in comparison to just ignoring that I saw you.
5. The Advertiser
I don't want your flyer - if you give it to me, I'm just going to end up throwing it away. I don't want to take a survey - I have shit to do. Please don't try to guilt trip me into paying donations to something that I have never heard of before - particularly if your organization skims money off the top (and believe me, if I had the money, I'd be donating to charities, my issue isn't with the idea of charity itself). No, I don't want your fucking overpriced candy and cookies - I'm in the process of going to the store to buy some much cheaper versions of your same product which taste exactly the same, if not better, and come more to a pack. I'm not interested in watching a presentation about your new product that I'm not here to buy. Mall kiosks are horrible for this sort of thing, especially if they're trying to shill some sort of hand lotion or perfume or something. I'm a guy - you're not going to convince me to buy some fingernail exfoliating thing. I bite my nails, I don't put nail polish on them, and no matter how desperate you seem to be to convince me that it'll do wonders that you're literally pleading with me to listen, I still won't care. Go target the people that might actually listen, not the 20-something straight guy.
6. Pretty Much Anybody in Line
If you're in front of me and taking too long, that's annoying. If you're behind me and bitching about how the people in front of us are taking too long, that's annoying. Hell, if you're ringing me up and you're going through the mandatory crap you're required to say (like asking me to sign up for a credit card I don't need), that's annoying. I don't even want to be in this line to give you my money in the first place, but I need to own this stuff and you won't let me leave without paying.
7. The Dawdler
This is more so people I'm with as opposed to people I bump into. If I'm going to a store, I'm going with intent to buy something in particular - not just to shop around for the experience of shopping. I don't find it fun to try on clothes that I'm not going to buy or look at electronics that I don't have the money for. Some people find this activity enthralling and want to just spend as much time out window shopping and looking at useless crap they have no plan on purchasing for as long as possible. I, on the other hand, would much rather someone else deliver it to me for free and not have to waste my time once I know what I want. Figure out what you need, go to the store that sells it, go to that department, grab the item, go to the line, pay for it, leave. The end. I don't want to look in aisles that don't apply to me. If you don't have a pet, why are you looking in pet supplies? Interesting deal, they've got cat food 10% off...who gives a shit if you don't have a cat? An extension of this is when I'm stuck behind someone walking in an aisle that is moving as slowly as they possibly could be without coming to a full stop. You might not be in a hurry, but do you really need to block everyone else who might be?
8. The Parking Lot Patrons
Nearly everyone in a parking lot is a complete idiot and I'm pretty sure that I myself have fallen into this category multiple times as well. There's the guy that doesn't know if he's coming or going, so he'll just sit there with his lights on for 2 minutes while you camp out for his spot doing nothing. There's the woman who camps out for those spots for 5 minutes and will refuse to just move on in search for a new spot, even if there are multiple ones open that aren't too much further away. There's the oblivious people that walk right in front of your car and then look at you as if you came out of nowhere and they were just lucky enough to dodge your attempted vehicular manslaughter. What about the people that leave a shopping cart inside of a parking spot, so you have to get out to move it before you can pull in? Or that jerk that parks just far enough over the line that you can't park in that perfect spot?
9. The Person I Keep Passing By
By the third time I walk by the same person, I start to feel awkward. Are these people following me? Do they think I'm following them? Why are we coincidentally both looking for Ritz crackers, earphones, and belts? While I never feel awkward enough to become one of those people that feels the need to talk to them just because of this (see #1), it does get weird and it seems like something needs to be done. Extra points if you then do that thing where you're facing each other, walking down the aisle, and you both try to step around the other person but go the same way and nearly smack into each other. From then on in, you've both become near-collision buddies to the other person and you certainly are wary of how they keep popping up near you.
10. The Beggar
Thankfully, I live in an area that doesn't have homeless people hanging out in front of stores or walking around the mall. For those areas that do, I'm sure you know much more than I would about how annoying this could get. There's the issue of wanting to help but not being able to, and feeling like no matter how you could put it, you'd just look like an insensitive jerk in the process by turning them down, or there's just the cutoff where you don't give a shit and don't want to help but they still would be approaching you anyway. Instead of the homeless issue, the other ones are the situations I come across more often. For instance, my friend and I used to be complete mallrats when we were teenagers and we were asked more than you'd think to just give people money. This was in an era where cell phones weren't anywhere near as common as they are now (back in the old early 2000s, my my how time flies) so people would ask for change for the pay phones usually. Some people just thought they were entitled to get money from you. These people usually looked like they were the type that weren't smart enough to count their money properly in the first place. The Beggar also includes the person that asks you to bum a cigarette or if you have a light. This has been particularly confusing for me as I don't smoke, never have, never will, and yet I've still been told by people that I'm lying and that I have cigarettes that I'm just not willing to give to them for free (again, as if they're entitled to it). The only type of 'beggar' scenario I can think of that I find perfectly acceptable is if you're asking me if I have the time. Granted, in 2011, you pretty much should have a phone or a watch, or be able to find one of the thousand of other clocks all over the place as nearly everything is also a clock and an mp3 player now, but I still wouldn't mind someone asking me that.
So who am I forgetting about? Leave your comments below.