Unless you never leave your house or make a phone call, you are likely dealing with people on a daily basis.
Most of the time I see people being patient and polite to these often hardworking, tolerant and intelligent workers.
They say “please” and “thank you,” they don't get upset if something is not executed to perfection on the first try and they are understanding of the notion that we are all human beings and we are all susceptible to error.
Sometimes, however, I am disheartened to see people not treating those in positions of serving the public fairly and respectfully.
It happens all too often.
You go to the pharmacy to pick up a new prescription. You worked all day and are tired. You have a few kids at home waiting for you to prepare dinner and your husband is texting you a million questions. You are as close as humanly possible to having your head combust from stress and you need to be in and out of the drugstore in five minutes or less, which usually is the case.
Today, however, there is a person in front of you picking up a medicine for their child. The doctor called in a different brand than usual and their insurance is denying it. The pharmacy tech is doing his very best to find a solution. He is working alone and the pharmacist is busy with another customer.
Perhaps they are a new employee or maybe they have been there for years. Neither detail matters.
What matters is that they are actively trying to serve the person in front of you so that they can get them what they need and out the door and can do the same for you as well.
But you are stressed, right? You need to get your medicine and get home. You start off waiting patiently but as the minutes tick by you get more and more irritated.
When you finally get to the counter this irritation spills over and you are snappy with the tech that waits on you, maybe you don't even say thank you. This leave them feeling defeated and upset. Neither person wins here.
Or maybe you are out to dinner with friends. You are not stressed at all. It is a Saturday and you have had a semi-relaxing day.
You eat at this restaurant often and always have good service. But, today things seem to be a little slower. Your server takes longer than usual to arrive at your table, and once she does, she is friendly, but not chatty. A few minutes after ordering (less than 15), you still don't have your salads. You have had a great day, but are starving. You also are paying a babysitter so you don't want to be gone all night. You take a peek in the kitchen to check on your order, you might grab a server passing by and have them ask a manager.
You never wait this long for anything at this restaurant. You can see your server running back and forth with desserts and waters and drinks and checks for other tables, but they have not returned to your table and that is most important, right?
When they finally do return, they are flustered and apologetic. You make a few jokes about your long wait, thinking perhaps that you are making light of the situation, but instead your server begins to feel overwhelmed and embarrassed.
By the end of the meal, they have made a few more small errors which you have pointed out politely (at least in your opinion), but you were not 100 percent satisfied so you leave no tip.
These two scenarios play out far more often than any of us would care to admit. In both cases there was no verbal bashing, no profanity or yelling.
What was present, however, was a lack of respect for your fellow human being.
No one is perfect, and I realize that applies to the customer in these situations as well. But, when you are dining out, picking up your medicine, buying groceries, speaking with a utility company or having a discussion with your child's teacher, please remember that everyone has bad days. We have no idea the kind of stress a person has before they serve us our meal, bag our groceries, check us in for a doctor visit or return a call about a cable bill. If you think that your daily stressors should matter to the person waiting on you, then you should take theirs into consideration as well.
I am not talking about tolerating poor service, I am talking about not anticipating it. There is a difference.
Be kind out there folks.