ihatepavelbure (ihatepavel) wrote in damnportlanders,

Was I rude?

I have an etiquette question.

Today my husband and I were at a gas station getting gas. I don't know how many people know this, but I didn't until the last couple years: it's bad to top off your gas tank, but in my experience something like 90% of the gas station attendants DO top it off. So I always want to ask them not to do that, but usually they walk away too fast. This is all relevant, I swear.

So when the guy told my husband what pump number we were at in order for him to pay, he started walking away and I said, somewhat hurriedly so he wouldn't escape but still in a friendly fashion (I thought): "Oh, can you not top it off?" The guy smiled at me, and said, slowly, "Please?"

The guy appeared to be Latino and had an accent. I work with some immigrants from Mexico; English is not their first language, and sometimes they don't understand what I say on the first go round. Not infrequently, I've had people say, "Please?" meaning, "Can you please repeat that? I didn't quite get it." I thought that is what he was doing. So I said, "Oh, the gas tank...can you not top it off afterward?" and he smiled again and said, "Please?"

I realized....he was prompting me to say PLEASE when I asked him to not top it off.

My husband and sister both thought that he was out of line to ask this, but they also both said, "But I always try to say please." And...I don't. I always try to be friendly and polite, of course. And I always say thank you after a service of any sort, routine or otherwise, has been rendered.

Now, here are my thoughts. It wouldn't have been at all weird for someone to say please ("can you please not top it off?") but I don't think it was necessary, per se, in order to be polite, because I wasn't asking him to go to any extra trouble as far as I can tell. I don't always say please when I'm asking something routine. This is how I do it at coffee shops, too, or grocery stores, or anywhere.

Cashier: What can I get for you?
Me: I'll have a latté. {smile}
Them: OK, anything else?
Me: No, thanks.

Is THAT also wrong because I didn't say I'll have a latté, please? I don't know...I worked in retail during college, and when people would ask, "can you show me where your salt scrubs were?" I never once thought, "What's the magic word, beyotch?"

Just as a little background, I am not unfriendly. In fact, I am probably TOO friendly. I frequently get into little conversations with servers or whatever and I think it may border on the annoying, because they don't want to talk to me, they want to do their job. So I don't think I normally come off as brusque. I may have in this case because the guy was walking away and I was rushing to ask him before he left? Dunno.

Your comments will have real-world application, people. If enough people think a "please" is always required for friendliness, I will really attempt to change my behavior. I'm really unhappy with the idea that I may have been offending hardworking members of the service industry for years.

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