Small-town America, the early 1940s: A mother strolls to the grocery store with her baby fussing in the pram. By the time the mother gets to the store, the baby falls asleep. Unwilling to wake the child, the mother parks the pram outside next to all of the other prams containing sleeping babes and goes in to shop. An hour later, the mother is home unpacking her groceries when she realizes she's forgotten her pram back at the store. There's also the child to consider. Mildly annoyed with herself, she walks back and retrieves her (still-sleeping) offspring [source: Morrison].
It's an inconceivable scenario today when you could even get arrested for leaving your sleeping kid outside in a stroller while eating in a restaurant [source: Ojito]. If nothing else, the grocery-store anecdote illustrates one very important point: Etiquette is fluid. Social norms are in constant flux from era to era and region to region. But that's no reason to throw up our hands and stop trying to impose some basic decency on ourselves and those around us. To that end, here are 10 highly provisional rules for shopping at the grocery store in the first quarter of the 21st century.