I took a stand today. I finally stood up to the grocery store line bullies who prowl the city, intimidating those of us who simply ask for a little space when we are finishing our transaction.
I was in line at Wild Oats paying for my groceries when I sensed that the person in line after me was getting a little too close. He was a little taller and bigger than me, but not in the athletic sense. He was also older than me, with the look of a burned-out desk job junkie. I’ve had this happen many times in line to pay a cashier, but this guy was climbing into my pocket. That unspoken personal space zone had been crossed without hesitation.
At first, I couldn’t tell if he was just dense and had no social skills, or if he was trying to hurry me along by standing right next to me as I swiped my debit card. Something about his posture told me that he knew what he was doing. He had coupons in his right hand and with that hand he leaned slightly toward me while still facing the cashier. It was a non-verbal message: “I’m in a hurry and you are not moving fast enough.”
I suppose that this is a frequent habit for this guy. And most people probably just rush off, flustered by his lack of courtesy, like I would normally do. But something clicked in me and I decided to do the unthinkable. I turned, looked directly at him, and spoke.
“You are in my space bubble, bro.”
I called him “bro.” Suddenly, the beast no longer seemed like such a bully. The look on his face was priceless as he reached deep down into his cognitive mush for the only sound he could think to make: “Huh?”
This time I enunciated just to be sure he got it. “You are in – my – space – bubble, bro.”
At that moment the cashier handed me the receipt, holding back his laughter as best he could. He knew he had witnessed history. Someone had stood up to the grocery store line bully! Without waiting for a response, I grabbed my bag of organically grown broccoli and antibiotic-free chicken, and walked out the door. I had just re-written the rules of engagement for the everyman.