The Worst of Humanity

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What is it about the human condition that causes completely rational, reasonable people to suddenly find themselves shouting at a complete stranger? Maybe their take-away takes longer than they were promised, or the latest shiny gadget they have set their heart on is out of stock.

Sadly, I have seen this exact scenario re-enacted on an almost daily basis over the last 3 years.

The Worst of Humanity

Normal people, just like you and me, for no good reason, make the (un)conscious decision to vent the day’s frustrations and anger on unsuspecting victims. Often those working in the retail and service industries are young, maybe they’re in their first jobs, working for minimum wage or close to it, just trying to get that first foot on the ladder. Imagine that, imagine your first job, or your child’s first job, having a complete stranger screaming and shouting in your face about a company policy, a director’s decision or a shipping error perhaps that is, quite clearly, not in the employee’s control.

What kind of example are we setting for the youth of today if that’s how we treat them just for doing their job? What kind of impact does that have on someone’s psyche, to be treated with so little respect, that you are sure the other person has forgotten that you are even another human?

In the past 3 years I have seen many colleagues reduced to tears, shaken to their core after quite literally being physically threatened for a minor mistake or, more commonly, something that has nothing to do with them. And yet, we justify this in our minds because we’ve ‘paid for a service’ that we’re not getting, or we’re not happy with – apparently this is the line at which we are allowed to verbally abuse and threaten a complete stranger. And we know deep down that this person cannot shout back – ‘The customer is always right’ – so it’s a safe and cowardly situation to pick a fight, you know that they won’t fight back.

The customer isn’t always right

Next time you find yourself shouting at a waitress, a shop worker, a receptionist, a train inspector or an airport check-in desk clerk. Take a moment, just take a step back and try and view the situation through someone else’s eyes. Try and see for a moment what it is you are actually doing. They aren’t responsible for the plane being delayed, the product being out of stock or the food taking a little longer. They’re someone’s child, someone’s parent. They’re just trying to make a living, funding themselves through Uni or saving for a trip of a life time. Will your shouting change anything? Will crushing this individual’s spirit change the policy of a major corporation? I doubt it.

It’s not all doom and gloom

To finish on a positive note, 2 hours ago, I posted a similar (but shorter) rant to a local community board about the treatment of staff in a local take away. At the time of writing more than 200 people had shown their support of my sentiments, and chipped in comments and ‘likes’. Get out there, show some compassion, respect and understanding for the people in these jobs, and let’s spread some genuine humanity for a change.

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