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What on Earth Could They Have Been Thinking

During a recent get-together with some friends, one of the group told a horror story about boorish behavior she had suffered that afternoon in a supermarket: an aggressive woman shopper smashed into her with a cart and didn’t bother to apologize or acknowledge it. This prompted the sharing of other such offensive behavior by strangers, acquaintances, and friends. I’ve decided to title the collection of incidents “What on Earth Could They Have Been Thinking?” The stories fall into the following categories:

Supermarket Behavior
#1 A checker, after checking out a customer’s groceries, stands talking with the customer for long minutes while the customers in line stand watching impatiently. The checker is oblivious and does not acknowledge her dawdling when she finally deigns to begin checking out the next customer in line.

#2 A woman with a shopping basket piled high with items checks out at the “Ten Items or Less” checkout station. When the man behind her asks, “I only have two items, may I go in front of you?” she ignores him and begins placing her 50 to 60 items on the conveyor belt. The checker says nothing.

#3 There is a long line of customers at a single checkout counter. When the manager opens up an additional checkout station, the customer at the end of the customer line steps over to the newly opened station (ignoring the fact that seven or eight people were ahead of him) and loads his items on the checkout belt. The checker says nothing.

Guest Behavior
#1 A guest comes to stay for a week and is on his Blackberry for the entire time. He gives his phone calls precedence over conversations, dinners in restaurants or television watching. He constantly talks loud and long. After the guest leaves, the host feels as though he’d spent the entire week watching one long, fragmented phone conversation. He also wonders why the guest even bothered to visit since he seemed more interested in his phone friends than he did in the host and his family.

#2 A guest takes control of the TV remote and never asks once if anyone is interested in the shows he chooses to watch. When the host leaves the room due to boredom and frustration, the guest does not notice.

#3 A guest visits for a week and the host loans  him the use of his second vehicle. The host washes the car and fills the tank prior to giving the guest the keys. The guest uses the vehicle for a week and returns the vehicle with an empty gas tank and leaves the seats littered with food wrappers and assorted garbage.

#4 A guest who normally stays for a week each year with his hosts/friends at their winter vacation spot decides one year to instead rent a place nearby. Without asking his hosts/friends, he invites a different friend to take his place as their guest. The host/friends, who are mere acquaintances of this other person, are too polite to say no to the request and so they are stuck with the substitute guest for the week.

Restaurant Behavior
#1 Three couples go to dinner together. One couple orders six rare single malt scotches between them at $50 per shot. The other two couples order no drinks and split a single bottle of moderately priced wine between them. When the check arrives, the male half of the scotch-drinking couple takes charge of the bill, divides the total cost by three and tells the other two couples to each cough up their third. When one couple balks and argues that they should not have to pay for any of the scotch drinks, the scotch drinker accuses them of being cheapskates.

#2 Two men are sitting at a table having lunch in a nice restaurant. A mutual friend walks into the restaurant, spots them and comes over to say hello. One of the two men asks the newcomer, “May I treat you to lunch?” and motions for the friend to sit down. The friend sits down and says, “I can’t stay but I’ll order something to go and eat it for supper tonight.” He orders the meal and when it arrives, he picks it up and leaves.

#3 The morning after an out-of-town wedding, the bride’s father invites everyone who stayed at the hotel where the wedding was held to a brunch. All but one of the guests orders a moderately priced egg or pancake dish. The guest in question orders the most expensive item on the menu (a steak and lobster dish) and leaves half of it uneaten.

#4 A guest, taken out for a birthday dinner at an expensive restaurant, asks if he can alter the hosts wine choice, saying, “The bottle of wine I’d prefer is $30 more but I’ll reimburse you for the difference.” The host, not wanting to create tension by refusing, gives his consent with the intention of refusing to accept the reimbursement. He never gets to do so, however, because when the bill arrives, the birthday guest neglects to mention it again.

#5 An employee invites his boss out to lunch at a Jewish deli. At the conclusion of the lunch, the boss orders two dozen bagels to go and tells the waiter to put it on the employee’s tab.

Dog-Owner Behavior
#1 A woman with three dogs on three expandable-contractible leashes approaches a single walker on a 10-foot wide walking path. When the walker sees that she will most likely not pull in the dogs so that he can remain on the path without the possibility of being jumped on, he leaves the path and stands on an adjacent grassy area. The woman allows the leashes to lengthen even further and walks closer to the man allowing the dogs to jump up on him. The man says, “Could you not see that I left the path to avoid having your dogs jump on me? Is the entire path not enough for you?” The woman says, “Oh, don’t be a jerk—what’s the big deal.”

#2 A couple is walking a frisky, 160-pound dog and allows the dog off the leash in an area requiring that dogs be kept on a leash. The dog runs full speed at a solitary walker, leaps into the air, bounces off his chest almost knocks him over. The couple, having watched the entire episode, approaches the walker and one of them says, “Rollo must really like you to jump on you that.” The walker says, “Why is your dog not on a leash and why do you assume I enjoyed being jumped on and almost knocked over?” They look at the walker with resentful, narrowed eyes and continue walking.

#3 On a path a woman is walking a large German Shepherd, using a “leash” which looks like a piece of bakery string. When the dog spots a solitary walker coming toward him he growls, shows his teeth, flattens his ears, and strains against the string-leash. Intimidated, the walker leaves the path and stands in the street to avoid the dog. The dog owner says, “Don’t be afraid—his bark is worse than his bite.” The walker says, “Thanks. Your reassurance and that sturdy leash took away all my concerns.” The woman does not seem to catch the irony.

Money Behavior
#1 A business man invites an acquaintance and his wife to share his private box at an NFL playoff game. Pleased, the couple accept the invitation and attend the game. The following week they receive a bill for $400 with an explanatory note saying that it is their share of the cost of the box for the evening.

Phone Behavior
A woman calls a friend and talks nonstop for 40 minutes about everything she’s been doing since they last talked. Then, without ever inquiring about the listener’s activities, she abruptly says, “Well, that’s all I have to say—I’m going to hang up now” and does.

There were many more such stories shared by the folks at the get-together but you get the idea. My guess is visitors to this site must know of many similar stories, perhaps related to situations involving auto and air travel, etc. If you’d like to share such stories, email them to me and I’ll post them under the “What on Earth Could They Have Been Thinking” heading.

Do you have a question or comment for me? Feel free to post it by clicking on the comments link below.