10 Grocery Store Etiquette Rules

Duck and Roll
"I bet she didn't see me. I better go hide in the wine aisle just to be sure." FlairImages/iStock/Thinkstock

It's an oft-cited irony of modernity that the more labor-saving devices we invent and acquire, the busier and more stressed we are. This is never more evident than at the grocery store. With all the other demands on your time, from work to family to social engagements, shopping for food can feel like a burdensome chore to get over as quickly as possible. Stores don't help with their blinding overhead lighting, aggressive marketing and constant relocation of items to keep you from sticking to your budget.

So the last thing you need in this purgatory is to run into somebody you know. Stopping to exchange anemic pleasantries and empty platitudes in the produce section is only going to prolong your mutual misery. Small talk under these circumstances is unavoidably awkward, plus you're clogging the aisles.

Twentieth-century etiquette bullied us into politely exchanging chitchat in some misguided attempt to keep the social fabric intact. Let's update that idea. Small talk has its place (parks, public transportation, waiting rooms), and that place is not the grocery store. When you're shopping, 21st century etiquette demands you pretend not to see the other person. You'll be doing yourself, and her, a favor and she knows it. In fact, she'll avoid making eye contact for the same, unspoken reason (i.e., let's just get through this, and if we cross paths in the park later we can talk). Don't stop — duck down and roll on [source: Dowling].