Background: I live on-campus at my university, and one of the perks of this is that I get a meal plan. Our cafeteria is pretty amazing; we have a salad bar, pizza bar, burger bar, taco bar, sandwich bar, the main meal line, and the all-new and highly coveted stir-fry bar. The stir-fry bar is especially amazing because you get to pick vegetables, meats, and sauces to make your own personalized stir-fry. The only catch is that you have to wait your turn, and the line can get pretty long.
Well this afternoon the cafe was relatively empty. I saw that the stir-fry line was only 2 people long, so I strolled my happy self over and got in line. Well, about 3 minutes later a young woman comes over and demands that the guy in front of me let her in front of him, even though the line wasn’t more than 5 people long at that point. Apparently, they knew each other, because he let her right in front of him. You could feel the ice radiating from my eyes and from those behind me. I wanted to say something very badly, but she was being so loud and vulgar I decided it would be better for me to hold my peace. She and her friend spent their entire wait loudly talking and cursing about this and that. I wanted to sew their mouths shut. Even when she *finally* got her food she stood there and complained about how long it was taking her friend to get his food, and every sentence was liberally sprinkled with expletives. The guy threw me an apologetic smile as he left the line, but I couldn’t acknowledge it. I was still angry that he let that girl in front of him and that they made the server uncomfortable by cursing so much. I still don’t know if I did the right thing or not. Could I have some advice please? 0410-12
A lot of people erroneously believe that etiquette is all about making others feel comfortable. This is just one of those situations where you want the rude boor to feel quite uncomfortable with their rude choice. Use the power of peer and social pressure to your advantage. People have an inherent belief in the equality of waiting your turn in line and those who butt in are viewed as believing theselves above the common courtesy of waiting like everyone else. Every person in that line knew exactly the moment when she butted in and were you to have said, “Excuse me, but the end of the line is back here,” everyone of them would have heard you. At least three pairs of eyes would now be boring in on Miss Buttinski forcing her to face a dilemma of either continuing to stand there knowing she’s peeving off a lot of people who will be sending their “peeved” vibes at her or she must back down by either fleeing the scene or going to the back of the line. Her companion, Mr. Facilitator, may be compelled to escort themselves to the end of the line so as to avoid any further peer pressure (and by offering to do so, he may gain the benefit of finding out if his female friend wanted to be with him or was merely using him as a means to get her food faster).
If she retaliates with nastiness, you remain calm and firm. “My time is just as valuable as yours. The end of the line is back here.” I have no problem whatsoever saying this myself in real life and there is certainly power in politely and civilly making entitled people squirm. I’ve told the story many times …y favorite example of this was when a woman butted to the front of the line of about 8 women waiting to have their fabric measured and cut at a sewing store. I confronted her with, “Excuse me but the end of the line starts back there,” only to have her whine that she only needed a yard of ribbon cut and she was on lunch break. “How do you know I am not on my lunch break? You can wait like the rest of us have.” By now, at least 14 eyeballs were trained like lasers on the woman and I had a phalanx of mostly old ladies behind me intently watching this play out and nodding their heads in agreement. She kept right on having her ribbon cut but every second of that she had to endure those stares and hear the whispered, “How rude!,” from several women. She visibly squirmed and fled as fast as she could. Unfortunately for her the check out line was also long and unable to butt into that line, she then was forced to have those same eyes trained on her back. The next time she is tempted to butt in, I’m sure she’ll remember and think twice.