Re: creepy encounters with cashiers
Putting aside the fact that Pingfah is clearly a monster who does not value those beneath him, I'd say the phonecall scenario is slightly rude. It depends on a lot of things, like if you are buying three items at a grocery store, or if you are placing some complicated order or at a doctor's office or something. The more routine the transaction, the more understandable it is.
People just need to be understanding in both sides of it. If you're a cashier, don't assume that the phonecall is something unimportant. Maybe I've just had a call returned that I've been waiting on for a week. If you're the customer, don't multitask people when you don't have to.
If I have a call I can't put down and have some routine transaction going on, I'll move the phone for a second and apologize to the cashier, and make sure I'm paying attention to the transaction. It's not ideal, but it's not unforgivable either.
I agree with your last paragraph, sometimes all it takes is simply saying to the cashier "I'm sorry but I really need to take this call". It shows you have acknowledged them.
I've worked behind the tills/been in queues where the customer who is on the phone is totally oblivious to the fact that their items have been processed through the till and sometimes even bagged and have been asked to make payment several times.
It's especially vexing when you're in line behind the idiot on the phone.
We are quicksilver, a fleeting shadow, a distant sound... our home has no boundaries beyond which we cannot pass. We live in music, in a flash of color... we live on the wind and in the sparkle of a star! Endora, Bewitched