5 Rules of Convenience Store Etiquette (Everyone Breaks)

Convenience stores are the best damn places. They sell just about everything, and you can usually drive to one and be back on your couch enjoying the fruits of your trip (it's a figure of speech -- I know you wouldn't spend money on fruit) in less than 15 minutes. You can't even get from your car to the front door of most big box department stores that quickly.

It doesn't happen by magic, though. Making sure your local convenience store lives up to the promise of its name is a team effort. Here are a few simple rules you can follow to help make it happen.

#5. Do Not Park at the Gas Pump

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Your job when visiting a convenience store, in addition to securing the Styrofoam cooler and hot dog buns that your stupid friend Jeff forgot to bring to the party, is to make sure your presence doesn't infringe upon the other customers' God-given right to convenience. In fact, this entire article could just be one sentence. "Don't make things inconvenient for everyone else." Some might even prefer that this article just be one sentence. Those people are buffoons. This is quality stuff.

The rest of you are just regular folk looking for advice on how to behave at a convenience store, and I've got that for you. The first tip: Don't park at the gas pump.


Of course, I don't mean you should move your car first if you're only running inside to pay for the gas you've just pumped. That's absurd. Hey, you can even pick up a few items while you're in there. Gas prices are out of control, you've earned the right to lollygag a bit.

If you're not conducting gas-related business, though, you don't get to park your car in front of a gas pump. It's just common courtesy. The person arriving behind you who needs to buy gas might not have time to wait for you. If that person runs out of fuel and has to manually push their car around the lot until you finally emerge from your Slim Jim run to remove your vehicle from the gas-pumping area, well, that person is silly. He should have just left his car where it was when it stalled and then pushed it when a spot became available.

All your fault.

Still, that doesn't absolve you of guilt. Gas pumps are like handicapped parking spots for disabled vehicles -- you leave them for those in need. Doing anything else just makes you a selfish jerk.

#4. Do Not Loiter in the Restroom


While paying present-day-economy prices for fuel might buy you the freedom to leave your car at a gas pump as you browse the convenience store aisles for the perfect combination of cough medicine and candy to start your weekend party (provided you're sick, otherwise just get candy), nothing gives you the right to take up residence in the convenience store restroom for anything more than a length of time that reasonable people would consider "standard." For the record, that's like three and a half to five minutes, tops. People who think they deserve more time on a public restroom shot clock simply have no regard for their fellow humans.

This transgression is especially heinous at a convenience store bathroom, because it's so often the single-person kind that requires a key at worst or an awkward wait outside the door while hoping the person on the other side isn't leaving behind a crime scene at best before it can be used.

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This kind of crime scene.

That means every minute you spend primping in the mirror or taking a hobo shower is another minute that some poor soul is unable to tend to his personal business.

And make no mistake, this is a high-traffic restroom. A convenience store is one of those rare places where nobody bats an eyelash if you come in to use the bathroom and leave without making a purchase. I wouldn't be surprised if 75 percent of all their purchases are the result of people looking for a tiny way to celebrate the fact that they made it to a bathroom in time.

Why do you want to stand in the way of that? Take your unnecessary tasks to the parking lot where they belong and keep your stay in a convenience store restroom brief. You'll be thankful when someone else's mindfulness of this basic rule of etiquette saves you from having an unfortunate story to share with your closest and least trustworthy friend some night when your decision making is particularly prone to lapses.

#3. Your Mom Does Not Work at the Soda Fountain

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I have a theory about why people so regularly leave the communal soda fountains of the world in such utter disarray. It goes something like this: People are slobs. Just a bunch of filthy, nasty, careless slobs.

If I had to explain it further, which I totally do, because I've got like 1,500 more words to kill, I'd theorize that it must be something about actually having to exert some real effort while assembling your icy beverage that leads a person to believe they've earned the right to leave the (usually more labor intensive) cleanup work to the "professionals."

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Like this guy!

And you know what? That makes some sense, I suppose. Having to put your own soda together is kind of like bagging your own groceries, and nobody wants buying stuff to turn into a second job. When you're done sweating it out pouring 56 ounces of ice and soda into a cup the size of your head, still having the extra effort of a massive cleanup project to sop up the additional 37 ounces of beverage you've inexplicably left on the counter standing between you and some much-needed refreshment can be overwhelming. It's no wonder most people opt to do nothing instead.

Just understand that, while doing nothing is certainly within your rights, judging you harshly for doing nothing is well within the rights of everyone else. And judge harshly they will. The person who leaves a mess at the soda fountain is just one step below the person who refuses to participate in making coffee at the office even when they're the person who drank the last of the coffee. Yes, we get it, there is a person there who actually has "make coffee" in their job description, and that person is not you. But there's also a person in this world with "occasionally save child from burning building" in their job description. Does that mean you would let the terrified pleas of a youngster go unanswered if you knew you could help simply because you're not paid to do that kind of thing?

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Reminder: This house.

Wow, you said yes, didn't you? No one should be surprised, even if starting the previous sentence with the word "wow" is a total contradiction of that statement. Shirking responsibility for your crimes is one of the lowest forms of human behavior. You're probably also the type who walks into a convenience store to buy a delicious fountain soda only to leave in useless silence after discovering that the syrup necessary to produce your favorite drink has run dry. This is unacceptable as well. A dearth of necessary supplies is a humanitarian disaster at a convenience store. There's nothing convenient about not being able to purchase the items you desire in a timely manner. It's going to happen from time to time, though, especially at the soda fountain. There is no getting around that. What we still have control over is how widespread the damage will be when a supply shortage arises.

Be a hero and let somebody know when there's a problem at the soda pump. Also, clean up after yourself before you leave. Doing anything less is a slap to the face of all the decent, hardworking people who help keep the soda fountains of the world in working order, even if they aren't being paid.

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Adam Tod Brown

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