Working in retail, and then reading this site, AND working for this site has driven home how important it is to make and adhere to personal etiquette. I admit, "Don't talk to strangers" doesn't apply so much when I'm no longer a little girl. But most of these rules should be learned while still young.
These are my top four personal rules of etiquette. This does not mean that there aren't more, but these are the ones I seem to use the most. Share your own!
Seriously, I learned this shit in elementary school. Stand in line, be patient, and don't try to line jump. I always appreciate it when a fellow customer sees that I only have one or two things and lets me go on ahead. Certainly, I'll be rung through and gone before they even finish unloading their cart. But I don't expect it. I don't even ASK for it. It is simply engrained in me to wait my damn turn.
2) Pick up after yourself.
I'm a fucking adult. If I knock it over, I pick it up. If I don't want it, I put it back. I make a mistake, I fix it. I do NOT rely on someone else to clean up after me.
Besides, I've seen go-back carts of horror that would curl the hair of many a seasoned retail slave. One or two fewer things to have to put away may not mean much time wise, but I can move a retail slave to tears of joy if they see me do it. And that's worth more than a cash reward any day.
3) Treat everyone as you want to be treated.
Old people complain that "back in the day, employees knew how to treat customers" and "you should learn to respect your elders". The problem is that "back in the day" the customers also knew how to behave in public and how to treat people who are giving them assistance. This means that customers did NOT insult employees, call them "stupid" or "incompetent," nor did they physically assault employees simply because they didn't get what they wanted when they wanted.
Let's be honest: bad attitudes and temper tantrums make people LESS willing to go the extra mile. And if I treat people with respect and kindness, and I don't ASK for special treatment, it becomes even more special when I get it anyway. Also, what happened to "Please" and "Thank You"? It's like they went into hiding in a bunker built for the apocalypse. You almost never see those words anymore.
4) The customer is not always right.
It's true that customers should be treated with respect and given assistance when they need a hand, but a line gets drawn after a certain point. Period.