Peace on Earth and goodwill toward man--admirable concepts, particularly at this time of year, but still considerably lacking among the general public as of late. You see, 'commercialism' has become the C-word that defines the season, not 'Christmas' or 'Chanukah' even, putting the focus on 'me' ahead of 'we' more and more each year. Thus, as shoppers make their final purchases and travelers embark upon their journey home, we must take some time to assess how our self-involved behaviors impact those around us.Over the years, retailers have become increasingly wary of in-store mobile usage for fear of showrooming's negative influence on brick-and-mortar sales. Yet, while strategists are focused on curbing the issues associated with the purchase process, traditional mobile usage may be the greatest experiential disruptor of them all. From talking to texting, those shoppers that roam the aisles with mobile phone in hand now embody what it means to be rude.
Just last week, I was at the prepared foods counter at my local supermarket, patiently waiting my turn as the store employee attempted to perform his duties in between the current customer's conversational outbursts. You see, this woman was talking on her mobile phone and ordering food simultaneously, causing much confusion because it was hard to decipher which comments were intended for the store employee and which were directed toward her friend. He stood behind the counter, at times, exasperated as he waited for her to pay attention and respond to his questions. She was oblivious to the world around her--as most mobile phone users are--yet she still insisted on taking care of her errands without putting her device down first.
Personally, I would've refused service until she hung up and put her phone away. (My old pharmacy, in fact, placed signs at the counter telling customers that they would not wait on them until they ended their call.) If you're too busy to give the worker your full attention, then they should have the right to move on to another customer who is prepared to actively engage with them. Something similar happened in line at the pet store, too, last week. Some incredibly rude woman wanted a refund for her dead fish (sans proof, mind you), but she refused to pay attention to the two associates assisting her. As they tried to explain how they went about obtaining her refund, she stood with her head down, eyes glued to her phone, barely nodding along to their words. She couldn't even bear to put the device down momentarily when it came time to sign the receipt and finalize her transaction.
People try to attribute this sort of mobile phone addiction to the younger demographic alone, but the issue cannot be narrowed down to one specific subset of the overall population. I've nearly collided with grandmothers who insist on texting as they walk. Middle-aged men have almost stepped on me as they stroll aimlessly throughout the mall. Shoppers of all ages walk around like zombies, trapped within their own personal bubbles that seemingly render them ignorant of all others within the general vicinity. It's downright rude to both store employees and fellow consumers. These shoppers expect workers to devote their full attention and provide prompt service, yet they aren't willing to afford them the same courtesy. The same shoppers disregard other customers, yet remain quick to deliver dirty looks toward anyone who crosses their path. And, while I wish I could admit that I'm embellishing even in the slightest, deep down, we all know I'm not. In fact, it's hard to shop anywhere without encountering at least one such culprit during any given excursion.
If you need to talk or text while shopping, stand still or take it outside--if not for your fellow customer, then for the retail workers who must face countless rude shoppers every single day. They deserve much more respect than they receive, especially at this time of year, so be polite and put your phone away as you interact with those who aim to make your experience as pleasant as possible. Everyone deserves an exceptional experience, after all.