everyone politely condescending to everyone

Waiting in line, I listened to a clerk direct everyone with professional condescension, all polite smiles and belittling slow speech.
She glanced at my paperwork and told me I needed a different form. After a polite argument, I followed her orders and waited again. This time she realized I had it right the first time, so I smiled my condescending smile and realized this is how society survives: our petty polite niceties, our passive one-upmanship.