The Mute Lurker

Do good manners count for something?

It doesn’t cost much to open the door for someone, hold the lift, greet a local Vandemonian with nod and a smile, or help some poor mum with a gazillion kids and a stroller on to the bus. Someone's gotta help them, right?

Don’t you think good manners is one of the nice things about Hobart?

We reckon Hobart has some big city advantages coupled with small town good behaviour. You know how most people can still say good morning to random strangers. We like that. A lot.

But then there's the mute lurker phenomenon that's doing Skye's head in:  

Are you able to say, 'Excuse me, would you mind if I squeeze by?' 

How hard do you reckon it is? I’m beginning to think it’s comparable to finding an Israeli-Palestinian solution given the growing mute lurker phenomenon in Hobart.

There’s plenty of mute lurkers at my gym.  They’re usually hovering behind you when you’re awkwardly trying to get into your knickers after a class.  I used to like to think that most of these lurkers were simply waiting patiently for you to dress and move out of the way.  Sort of an act of grace rather than poor manners.

But more recently I’ve been wondering otherwise.

Take the dude at the Hill Street Grocers New Town edition, positively lurking, basket poised, behind my gal as we were hold up in front of the meat fridge discussing dinner options. Yes. She was in the way. No. It wasn't possible to pass us.  But why was it SO terribly hard for this older gent to say...'excuse me'?

(see, there’s not much space)

Clearly the answer to this question was no, given after five minutes (no exaggeration, I think we’d moved from dinner options to the state of Tasmanian politics at this stage) I realised he wasn't having the same difficulties as us...and in fact...didn’t want anything from the fridge at all. But simply couldn't find it in himself to say as much, or take an alternative route. He just preferred to lurk. Mutely.

Okay. Now it's time for true confessions. I took the low road. Equanimity was not my friend.

'So' said I, 'Sorry. Did you want to get past?' 

'Well that's WHY I was waiting here' his response positively dripping with sarcasm.

At this point I wish I could blame hormones.

'Well. Mate. If you'd asked her to move, she would have done that for you.'

Note - The gal hasn’t realised he was had been standing behind her.

'Well I thought she might have realised she needed to move.... intuitively.'

Intuitively? WTF? Oh that's setting the bar high.

It was a Shut the F up moment. Except I didn't.

'Mate...what's she supposed to do, READ YOUR MIND??!!'

He answered in the affirmative and I spewed caustic about his incapacity to articulate himself as he fled down the aisle towards the dried biscuits.  

Then, this week, it happened again with a younger guy.....

The moral to this story is...don't go shopping without your manners and if you cross paths with someone who has....don't engage...just get out of the way.

And p.s. I keep running into him. Bloody small town Hobart is.  He’s probably related to someone I know and I’ll end up at BBQ with him soon.  Sigh.

You can find most things you need and many more things you might want, at Hill Street Grocers.  If you haven't, check them out!

What good manners are missing from your grocer's?
What's your favourite way of showing off your good manners?