Every now and then I encounter annoying people in stores. There aren’t that many, but the pesky population seems to be growing. I thought maybe it was just me. But I talked this over with my buddies and they all agreed. We’re still the same sweet-tempered, easy going, nice old guys. It can’t be us. It must be them. We decided to strike back, but in cleverly subtle ways in order to avoid litigtation and serious injury.

Convenience store clerks can sometimes be impatient and even brusque when dealing with an older customer who can’t hear the mumbled reply about an item’s price. “I TOLJA, IT’S SEVENTY NINE CENTS! WADDAYA DEAF!” he shouts. Picking up the change that’s been tossed on the counter, the old guy examines the coins and exclaims, “Wow! A 1995 double die penny! Look at this!” He waves the coin in front of the clerk. “See, ‘In God We Rust’, a mint misprint. It’s worth a hundred dollars at least!” He then rushes out of the store, laughing wildly. This is performed with an ordinary one-cent penny and will get the nasty clerk to check every coin in his register with a magnifying glass for days or hopefully, for weeks.

If you’re being treated like an ignorant peasant by a rather plain-looking saleswoman in an upscale store who sniffs at your questions and keeps looking beyond you for customers with more cachet and more cash, there is a retaliatory move. A miffed male customer can suddenly blurt out, “You good- looking women think you can get away with rudeness!” This is an accusation wrapped in a compliment, a compliment the woman probably hasn’t received recently, or ever, and it will trump the accusation. The man will get courteous service and perhaps a phone call later.

Some supermarket shoppers refuse to recognize the rights of other hunters and gatherers. They propel their carts at high speed with a get-out-of-my-way attitude. At a counter with no number system, when the clerk calls “Next”, our noodge will step forward, elbowing aside anyone who objects.

Our SWAP team (Seniors With A Purpose) tailed one of these Me-First shoppers who then parallel parked blocking access to a full ten-foot length of meat counter from sausages to pork chops while browsing languidly through poultry parts. The team struck back. Me-First’s cart was shielded by one member while others buried new items beneath its cargo: A bagel with a bite-sized portion missing; an open half empty jar of expensive caviar and a barbecued chicken missing two drumsticks. Soiled napkins were tossed in as evidence of illegal pre-checkout feasting.

Our team reassembled in the checkout area and enjoyed Me-First’s loud angry confrontation with two assistant managers and security personnel. Later, a note was slipped into the departing cart: “From now on please try to be a more polite, considerate shopper. Be nice.”

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