The Brits do love their decorum.
It helps them feel good about themselves, while allowing them to hide their true natures.
However, one British store has decided to enforce a protocol that technology seemed to have wiped away.
County Stores, in rather sleepy Taunton, southwest England, has decided not to serve anyone if they're nattering on their cell phones.
They might be talking to their nannies or their brokers. They might be discussing their last night or their next one. It doesn't even matter if you're debating the relative merits of Kimmy and Snooki.
If you're talking on your phone as you come up to the counter, the person behind you gets served first. Unless they're also on the phone, that is.
Store assistant Sharon Kidd told the Daily Mail: "We had some people coming up to us on the phone, not paying attention to what we were asking them and holding up the queue."
Well, indeed. It's just not done.
People are so self-centered these days that it's as if the whole world has suddenly become teenage Americans.
Because the staff at County Stores are ineffably polite, they put up a notice explaining their policy. They say that they majority of customers have been compliant, appreciative even.
However, Kidd did admit that one younger customer had taken on a huffy nature and marched out of the store shouting: "Stuff you."
I have a feeling "stuff you" was not what was actually shouted.
It's peculiar that a technology that was supposedly designed to help people communicate has caused so many not to observe even the basic tenets of human discourse.
At the very least, you'd imagine that people would ask the person to hang on while they pay -- or even to call back.
But increasingly one gets the feeling that people think any interaction via technology is somehow more significant than one in what used to be called real life.