We are living through it. Need I say more? Ordinary day-to-day life as we know it has been completely turned on its head: social distancing precautions, job losses, and an abundance of stress.
We are living in genuinely difficult times.
Look, I am not here to say that you aren’t allowed to vent, feel frustrated, and even lose your sanity a little bit.
You can, and you probably have at one point or another.
But you know what? Everybody is in the same boat.
Due to the abundance of essential services that are required to operate and do so in large capacity, I have found there also exists an abundance of abuse.
Some may already be talking about this amongst each other, but such an issue needs to be formally addressed. If your job requires frequent interaction with the public, face-to-face or otherwise, you will know exactly what I am talking about.
People are more frustrated, agitated, and on edge. And some customers are taking it out on the person serving them, whether that be in the drive-thru at McDonalds, the salesperson; the worker at the clothing store, and those in general public services just trying to do their job.
When you have worked in these industries for years, you can clearly feel the shift between customer behavior. Aggressive customers have always existed, but not in this capacity.
If you are someone who has accidentally taken your anger out on somebody but then shortly realized your mistake and made amends in your own way, that is okay.
Good on you for acknowledging it.
You may have genuinely had a horrible day and those very few experiences do not define you if you are open-minded to learn and grow from them.
But if you are somebody who relentlessly makes the lives of retail workers difficult for your own amusement and the “customer is always right mentality”, this is what you should be mindful of:
You may be walking into a store with a high amount of frustration. You very well may have a valid reason for doing so. But this person who is serving you will not only be serving you today. Your presence is just a small portion of the faces they will see, the conversations they will have.
This “small” negative interaction might not affect you in the slightest, especially if you are confident that you are right; but your part in emitting negativity while making your point is causing unnecessary stress to a person who, like you, may also be stressed.
This employee will most likely greet hundreds of customers like you: filled with anger and an inability to compromise. This employee, who is only trying to do their job, is subconsciously absorbing your anger because you cannot control yours.
It needs to be emphasized that you do not know this person you are shouting at; you do not know this person you are being rude and condescending to. This person could have lost their wallet walking to the bus stop because their car broke down. This same person could be working relentless hours to pay their child’s medical bills. They could be experiencing immense hardship and grief; they may have lost a loved one. This person you know nothing about must be an emotional punching bag so you can make your point, and for what? A refund for a faulty item which would be happily exchanged anyway? A respectful conversation which would have led to new information being learned?
Treating others with respect is something that should be exercised each and every day; but during a time with such heightened anxiety, it is especially important that people are extra mindful of the stress others are feeling, too.
Ask yourself this: Do you want to be known as that person who made someone’s day that much worse?
If you don’t, then please make sure to be mindful.
Because when you project understanding, the world sends it back to you in spades.