You will have to wait in line. The only way around this is to do all your Christmas shopping on a Tuesday morning in October. This is no longer an option. Don’t be the queue jumping asshole that everyone hates. Be patient; wait your turn. I myself plan on spending my last day off before Christmas in line with a little Sweet Revenge. Hey, Christmas is the same day every year, I should really know better.
You don’t have a quick question. Anything that requires more than ten words or a description involving hand gestures is not quick. Really, anything beyond, “Where are the restrooms?” is not quick. If you don’t know the title of the book or the cut and color of the sweater you’re going to require more than ten seconds of the salesperson’s time. Sorry, dude that’s just how it is. Also, you will have to wait in line.
The salesperson doesn’t want you to pat them on the back for a job well done. They know they do their job reasonably well. You are the fourteenth person in half an hour to ask that question. They were already headed that way. That is their favorite hat. Physical contact between friends and peers may be comforting, but its just creepy when the third baby boomer of the day gives the Goth girl behind the counter that reassuring tap. Trust me, she doesn’t want you to touch her and you still have to wait in line.
Appropriateness is key. Always endeavor to open with an appropriate line. Say, “Excuse me” or “Pardon me” or “Hello” or “Can you help me?” Or even, “Do you work here?” Don’t say to the sales girl who's on her knees looking for a sweater, “Hey, while you’re down there can you hand me the yellow one?” Even if she’s kneeling next to exactly what you are looking for. After the balding fat guy with the shrieking wife patted her on the back and condescending, Hugo Boss-soaked brat she could smell coming from fifteen feet away asked for the sweater she's currently looking for, last thing she wanted to hear were the words, “While you’re down there...” She’s wondering right now how much she really needs this job. Certainly, she doesn’t give a fuck about the last minute gift for your mother-in-law. And, that might have been a quick question, but you still have to wait in line.