I was in a store today, buying one thing. I got in the line behind a couple of other people. One person moved up, and I was the next in line. Stood there for a few minutes as the guy ahead of me checked out several items. But then I noticed that another person had come up and was standing sort of in front of the check-out counter and behind the person being served, but off to the other side, like she was next. (Think of it like one check-out counter with now two lines shooting off from it, like a 'V'.)
So the clerk finished and asked who was next and I just said 'I think I was' and moved forward. I never really looked at the other person, nor did she say anything. Frankly, I WAS there first and didn't want to wait any longer. Within probably 30 seconds, my transaction was completed and I was out of there. But I started thinking.....
Is it common politeness to engage with the other person for something like this? I felt if I looked at her, then if she told me to go first, then I feel like I'd have to thank her, and that just seemed stupid, when I really WAS there first; it would be like thanking her for not cutting (if we all went around thanking people for not doing things they shouldn't do anyway, the world would be a very polite place, but heck, we'd never get anything done!). For interactions like this, it seems that the 'polite' thing is to look at the other person to say, 'who was first?' or 'were you here before me?'; basically play dumb even though you know darn well that you were first. And there are some people who will take advantage of that. So, knowing that, I just opted to assert myself and all was well.
But if you know you're in the right and you really WERE next in line, does etiquette dictate that you engage with the other person who either knowingly or unknowingly tried to cut or create her own line? Or is asserting your right to be served next perfectly fine?
(The other guy in front of me had a cart with stuff, and I was behind him. I have no idea why the other lady didn't think that looked like an already-formed checkout line, but whatever.)