Dear Random, Crazy Stranger at Bed Bath and Beyond,
When someone bumps into you at a store, it is polite for both parties to say, “excuse me.” The same goes for when you bump into someone else at a store, regardless of how fast they are walking or whether or not they realize they bumped into you. Sometimes, this does not happen.
When this polite little exchange does not happen, it is far more polite to let it go. Chasing someone down in a store is more rude than someone bumping into you and not excusing themselves. It is tremendously rude to chase down someone that you ran into. Also rude: staring at said person without saying anything, not listening to what the person has to say in their own defense, acting entitled to some sort of apology, interrupting other people when they speak, etc. If you feel you must, because of weird, misguided ideas, chase down a person in a store, the correct way to address them is not to get angry or accuse them of running into you.
Instead, you could try saying, “I’m sorry, I think we bumped into each other rather roughly at the front of the store. I’m not sure if you realized it. I wanted to say excuse me.” At which point the person you have rudely chased down would probably respond with, “Ah, I apologize as well,” or something to that effect. Maybe even, “I didn’t realize I noticeably bumped into you. I thought I merely brushed past you. I’m sorry.”
If you, on the other, chase someone down, stare them down, then walk away as if you’re superior, it puts that someone on the defensive. So when you tell me I’m rude because I didn’t apologize profusely for brushing past you at the entrance of the store, and do so in an incredibly rude and angry manner, expect my response to be angry and defensive.
I was walking into the store. Bed, Bath and Beyond always puts too much crap by their entrance, so it is actually a little difficult to get all the way into the store. Thus, when I saw the open space between your back and the display – plenty of room for my small frame to walk through – I attempted to walk by. I noticed you and your granddaughter were looking at lawn furniture. As I walked by you, you backed into me. It wasn’t much contact, so I continued on my merry way as if nothing had happened.
You, however, did not do this. You followed me through the store. You stared angrily and rudely at me. You muttered about me -audibly – to your granddaughter. The entire exchange was strange and ill-mannered. Then, when I tried to defend myself (accidentally and somewhat regrettably involving another woman by placing her physically between us), you consistently interrupted what I had to say. You acted outraged and wouldn’t admit even the slightest bit of wrongdoing. I have news for you: you had no reason to follow me, and you are not superior in either morals or manners to myself.
Even when the woman placed between us tried to calm you down by talking about the beautiful weather outside, you insisted on staying angry and outraged. Thankfully, her mention of the weather calmed me down a bit. I tried again to calmly explain what happened, and you again interrupted me and treated me as if I were inferior to you.
I am twenty-two. You are at least fifty. If my behavior was at all amiss (perhaps I should have said a quick excuse me as I walked past, although I do not think this was required), yours is far worse. You behaved like an entitled 20-year-old without a shred of emotional maturity.
Learn some manners and gain some perspective. Perhaps you will then know when to let things go and when they matter enough to not let them go.
P.S. Thanks for reminding me how crazy people drive me.