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Daily Journal
     May 13, 2021      #80-133 KDJ

There's no need to be rude to workers 

By Ron Jackson

The vaccines appear to be making a difference in the rate the coronavirus attacks our respiratory system. Nationally, there is a downward trend in the COVID-19 daily average positivity rate and deaths. Something seems to be working.

We have been waiting for the opportunity to safely return to the good old days. Federal, state and local governments are revising guidelines or relaxing restrictions. Public venues and events are scheduling operations to pre-pandemic levels. It won’t be long until we can get back out there and enjoy normal, necessary human interaction.

On the other hand, the rates of rudeness and impatience appear to be reaching pandemic proportions. People can be just downright rude. Needlessly. Oftentimes, the rudeness is directed toward the least deserving person. I have witnessed it. On more than one occasion, I have seen an innocent, policy-following retail worker suffer the unwarranted wrath of an unhappy, unsympathetic, uncivilized patron who was upset at the speed of service or the enforcement of a new business policy.

One recent incident involved a young worker at a local store. There were several checkout stations, but only one was manned by store personnel. All the others were self-service. The one human-serviced line was long. Several of us, for whatever reasons, chose not to use the other options. We waited patiently.

A couple of patrons two spots ahead of me felt the need to question the cashier about the lack of available employee-serviced checkouts. The worker professionally attempted to explain the store was gradually phasing in an all self-service checkout. That simple explanation was not enough.

“Well, you will be losing a customer if that happens. I’m not on this store’s payroll. I pay them for service. They don’t pay me,” a grumpy older male loudly told the worker who took it all in professional stride.

“And what’s going to happen to your job when this takes place?” his female companion asked, almost sounding sympathetic.

“Oh, I will still have my job. I will be assisting customers at the self-service,” responded the clerk, still sounding professional and courteous.

“So, you are telling me that your new job will be to watch us do your work?” the grumpster loudly fired back at her. The young, noticeably unsettled worker tried to muster up a smile as the older couple walked away while still spouting off their disapproval.

It also was unnerving to some of those who witnessed the unprovoked confrontation. It was so unnecessary to verbally assault the young person who had no decision-making authority.

A second observation of rudeness occurred at a fast-food joint. It was on one of those rare occasions when it appeared to be faster to walk in and order than to use the drive-thru. Once inside it became obvious why the line of cars outside was moving at a snail’s pace. There was not an abundance of workers behind the counter. The person taking the order also was doing other functions. There was a constant flow of worker activity. No one was standing around engaged in idle chat. Not even a case of anyone using their personal electronic device.

Apparently, this constant ant-like worker movement went unnoticed by one particular customer. Dissatisfied with the time it was taking to fulfill his order, he began, in a not-so-friendly manner, giving instructions to the next worker who passed near him.

“You guys need to pick up the speed. I need my food. I only ordered two of those. Can’t you just grab the next two and give it to me? You could be doing that while you’re waiting on that. Can’t y’all call in some more help?” he badgered nonstop. The frustration showed on the already-taxed crew. Again, unnecessary rudeness.

Certainly, two observations do not constitute a good random sampling. Many other examples can be found on social media.

Warm weather and the effectiveness of the vaccines definitely will put more demand on the service industry. No one thought to develop and expedite a two-dose vaccine for rudeness and impatience pandemic that unfortunately can’t be masked.

Ron Jackson can be contacted through the Daily Journal at editors@daily-journal.com.

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