Dear Annie: I have an etiquette issue that I am hopeful you can resolve. A store where I shop has an area cordoned off for customers to wait in line for an available cashier to ensure the privacy of each individual’s transaction. While paying for my purchases recently with a credit card, a man suddenly appeared at my shoulder. He made me feel extremely uncomfortable, as my credit card and driver’s license information were exposed. I thought the cashier might suggest to him that he move back to the cordoned area to wait his turn, but she did not.
Though I very much wanted him to move away, I didn’t want to create a scene and consequently said nothing.
I suspect this experience is not unique. What would be an appropriate response in these situations?
— A Little Space, Please
Dear Space: It’s smart of you to stay aware of your surroundings and be vigilant about this sort of thing. Many fraudsters steal information simply by snooping over shoulders in checkout lines.
I agree that the cashier probably should have asked this man to step back and wait his turn, but ultimately, it’s up to you to protect your personal information. As for an appropriate response, there would be nothing wrong with your plainly asking, “Excuse me, but would you please back up a little?” No reasonable person would take offense to that. You could also use obvious body language, such as turning your back and hunching over a bit, shielding the keypad with your hand. That should send the message to anyone getting too close for comfort in the future.
Dear Annie: Having worked in nursing for over 40 years, I know what the “newbie” nurse’s aide who wrote to you is feeling. There are always those staff members who disappear when patients need something or do just enough to get by.
My philosophy has always been to ask myself, “Would I want me for my nurse?” If I am doing my job properly, then the answer is “yes,” because I’m doing what I should be doing. The others whom this person is working with may be “dumping” on her, but more likely, they have done just enough to get by and no one has been around to reprimand them, or maybe those in authority are passive and just let things slide. The patients are the ones who ultimately suffer when everyone doesn’t pull his or her weight and work together for the good of those entrusted to the nurses’ care.
If she keeps a record of when this happens, exactly what happens and who is involved, then she can go to her boss with the information so that maybe it can be addressed. The downside of that is that the people she is complaining about will know the source and possibly make her life even more difficult. — Carol in Florida