I have been working customer service jobs almost non stop since I was 15. Everything from food service to big box stores to little indie business. Over the last 20 years I have witnessed a large change in people’s attitudes towards the people behind the counter. Several years ago I was helping a customer who looked me dead in the eye and asked if there was anyone in the store who knew more than me. Just because you didn’t get the answer you wanted doesn’t mean that I am not knowledgeable. I responded “I am the goddess of books as far as you are concerned.” This exchange only solidified my belief that everyone should have to work a year in customer service just so that you could have some idea of what it is like to be on the other side. Sort of like the countries that have required military services.
Here are a few more examples of things I have suffered through…
- Being propositioned while working late night drive thru (too many times to count)
- A woman telling me that her daughter had cancer so she could get a better price.
- Being told by a customer that he found my picture in a book of foot fetish photography
- Working at a public library and being asked to come fix a computer that was frozen because the patron was looking at adult sites (too many times to count)
- Asked by a customer “If you were a woman which gift would you want” when I am a woman, no doubt about it.
- Being called stupid (numerous times)
- People getting mad if I refuse to wait on them if they failed to get off the phone.
Don’t get me started on doing craft shows. The things I hear people say about my art still has the power to amaze me. Think before you speak people!
These are just a few, but many of these could be avoided if the customers in question had worked a few shifts in my shoes. I have had friends that I stopped going to dinner with because they were such bad tippers. It wasn’t that they couldn’t afford the tip, they just didn’t think about it. Which in my mind is worse.
I think part of the Rudeness Issue results from many years of prosperity where kids didn’t have to work the grunt jobs like food service or mall jobs during high school or college. Learning how to deal with people is an important skill that serves us through out our lives. But right now it seems to be a “Me first, then you” sort of attitude.
Now, I don’t think this would make everyone nice to the people who wait on them, but I think it would help. And if it didn’t maybe we could send people back for a refresher course. Yeah, I think that is the ticket.