DEAR HARRIETTE: Shopping in grocery or department stores is getting dangerous these days. I have lived in downtown Chicago for 50-plus years around several grocery stores, and I have encountered the same rude and mean-spirited behavior, mostly from women, in all of them. I have never known so many people to be so rude.
I was at a self-checkout in a top grocery store, scanning my groceries, when a woman walked into the store and kicked my grocery cart onto my foot, leaving a long scratch mark on my shoe.
I was in a different top market yesterday, waiting for my cooked food, when a woman pushed her grocery cart over my foot, hitting the back of my leg.
I was in yet another grocery store picking out fresh berries when a woman turned in my direction, reached over my face and arm to pick up cartons of berries, put them down and walked away.
My question is this: What can a civil shopper do when it seems to be the trend these days to be rude to people and get away with it? I mentioned each of these cases to the security guard and management in these stores, and I was told that the stores cannot do or say anything involving customers' behavior. The store manager said that if I responded to the rude person with rudeness, security would call the police.
No decent person wants to cause a scene and go to jail. What other choices do people have when they are trying to shop and get attacked by intentionally rude people? -- Outraged, Chicago
DEAR OUTRAGED: I'm wondering if you can speak to future offenders using a strong, clear, authoritative tone, warning the person to be careful around you. If someone begins to reach across, speak up and ask the person to give you a moment to complete your selection. Speak loudly enough for the person to hear you, but without attitude that could spark an incendiary situation. It is possible to be proactive in the moment and still soothing to the other shopper, who is likely unaware of his or her rudeness. You can also ask these stores to create policies that encourage thoughtful behavior among customers.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a student who lives in an expensive area. I am eating a lot of fast food, as it is a cheaper option. However, I know how bad fast food is. Do you have any suggestions for how to eat healthier while on a budget? -- Broke, Manhattan, N.Y.
DEAR BROKE: It's time to go to the grocery store and start buying food that you can prepare for yourself. It's so much more affordable. Also, you can buy prepared foods at grocery stores for far less than they would cost at a restaurant. Chances are, these foods will be fresher and healthier, too.