Supermarket etiquette – shopping dividers on the conveyor belt

This week’s Thanet Gazette was worth every penny for the debate on the letters page (13). Go read the issue in the library if you missed it.

Last week Jane Allen, who shops in Birchington, wrote:

“The person in front never puts the divider up between their shopping and mine. I think this is extremely rude. I was brought up to put the divider up after my shopping on the conveyer belt and ALWAYS do.”
Despite letters to the paper and going out to talk to shoppers in Margate it seems the Thanet Gazette were unable to find anyone else who felt passionately about this matter, in agreement with Ms Allen.
 
I was not the only person who checked the date to see if it could be an April Fools joke when I first read Ms Allen’s letter. Is she serious, or an agent provocateur? Anyway, being the pedant that I am I spent too much time pondering the issue myself because my gut reaction was that Ms Allen was actually wrong.

The divider of shopping etiquette is not as she stated.

With great joy this week I read the reply from Mark Goddard of Minis Road, Birchington, it is this I would urge you to read in full. He is a man with too much time on his hands to write about the trivia in life; he explains most eloquently why etiquette should suggest that when in a queue one is not responsible for what goes on behind the queuer. The queuer is merely responsible for ensuring appropriate space (barrier) between herself and the person in front.

If there is something trivial to argue about there will be blogs and websites dedicated to the subject, so I did a little search. The www is almost quiet on this matter. I did find a very entertaining blog, however, in which the author explains that the rules of etiquette are one should put the divider in front of your own shopping but the are strict rules governing your response if the person infront places the divider for you:

“My point being that the checkout divider has no significance over and above the thousands of other things happening around you at such a point in your life.
“However, others see the matter differently.
“It turns out that there is such a thing as checkout-divider-etiquette. And, it turns out, that it is a gross infringement of this etiquette should you not put down the plastic baton whenever the chance presents itself to you – … it turns out, at no point are you, the person ahead of them in the queue, obliged to place the plastic dividers down for them, the person behind you in the queue.
“And on top of all of that, if someone puts one of those plastic batons down between their food and yours, and you are behind them, about to put your prospective purchases down on the conveyor belt, it is obligatory to mutter a thank you. Letting out a voluble thank-you isn’t advisable, as this may come across as sarcasm, but mumbling an indecipherable thank-you into your sleeve is the very least you should do.”

There are, however, many pages dedicated to the subject of queuing, jumping it, holding your place with your shopping trolley whilst you go off for forgotten item, paying with small change, not getting your money out ready until it is time to pay, etc…

 

  

 

I think – people who find these things all so worrying might be better doing their shopping on line and/or sticking to small shops. Supermarkets are not going to be pleasant.
I found one angry supporter of the Jane Allen view.

2 Responses to “Supermarket etiquette – shopping dividers on the conveyor belt”


  1. 1 George October 10, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    I can’t believe I read this. The article was good, but does it really matter? If you feel you need the thing then put it up. It is an individual choice.

  2. 2 Burt H. Shulman October 15, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    Hello from across the pond,

    My company has developed a marked belt, to deal with the divider etiquette uncertainty. Customers have a “parking space” for their items. See link above
    Fast, easy, sanitary and green.

    Call Burt for more details
    845 298 4229 USA

    Sincerely,
    Burt


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