Imagine my surprise, then, to be upbraided myself yesterday for rudeness. Oh, the shame!
At the Tesco Express I use almost daily, three or four other customers, struggling under the weight of groaningly loaded baskets, were queueing for the manned tills, while I was the sole person waiting for self service as a woman fiddled with her card to pay for flowers and a pint of milk.
Once finished, she left the machine and I stepped forward to scan my first item (a rather tasty all day breakfast sarnie, which I recommend, as it happens). As I did that frustrating double-finger massage of the top of the carrier bag to create an opening for packing my lunch, a voice behind me, laden with condemnation and sarcasm in equal measure, boomed "There IS a queue, you know".
I turned to see who was accusing whom of elbowing their way past and saw that it was the flowers and milk woman ... addressing ... me!
As I said, I use this place regularly so was able to quickly, politely, and with a smile, point to the self service checkout sign which directed shoppers to queue, well, exactly where I had done, and explain that I hadn't actually jumped any queue. Having been corrected, and struggling to hide her realisation, she apologised, and I replied that it was no problem.
Or that's what should have happened anyway. Instead, her verbal reply was "Well ...", her facial expression didn't soften at all, and she walked away righteously shaking her head.
So, to sum up. Woman loudly and publicly objects to rudeness (nothing desperately wrong with that), but has no concern for manners when unable to show politeness herself with an apology. Which I found quite hypocritical.
This was no chav either. Well-dressed, well-spoken, sporting a lanyard and ID for Chelsea Stadium. A professional, there's no doubt.
It seems rudeness has transcended the old class barriers and is now embraced by just about everyone.
I've alluded before to such ill-judged confrontational attitudes, and driving instances are quite regular. Just in the past month I have encountered a gleaming 4x4 driver who, having accidentally pulled out from my left at a mini-roundabout , totally in the wrong and fully cognisant of it, preferred to lamely gesture that I should have driven around the small painted dot on the road (which would have made no difference whtsoever), instead of just raising a hand in recognition of their mistake. I hadn't directed any condemnation in that instance either.
Nor did I make any fuss when forced to make an emergency stop when a guy, stripped to the waist in a battered Princess, turned right in front of me at a different mini-roundabout ... from the left hand lane ... without indicating, two weeks ago. As I stared silently in astonishment (as did others) his response was to wind down the window and scream obscenities. The F-off response as described by Lynne Truss.
The word 'sorry' is fast becoming obsolete, as is the admission of fault. Personally, I can't fathom why polite contrition is so difficult.
UPDATE: Bucko has written a good article trying to explain this rude mindset HERE