December 17, 2013
COLUMNIST COMMENTARY: The joys of the holidays can be few and far between, especially when shopping and being “overbooked” with too many obligations and minimal time. Service industry employees seems to receive the worst of our seasonal sourness when dealing with customers who expect immediate attention with little consideration shown for the PERSON across the sales counter or check-out line from us. Please remember that you are interacting with a real human, who has their own emotions, feelings, and obligations during this busy season, all while being paid a potentially paltry wage.
The recent nationwide fast-food protests have given long-overdue attention to those who are expected to greet us with a smile, and decipher our order while we chat away obliviously on our cellular devices. Trying to conduct business with the “live” person across the counter, while not interrupting that “essential” conversation we are conducting is rude, especially during this busy season. The next time you visit a fast food establishment, grocery, or other venue, please be considerate, greeting that person with a smile, maintaining eye contact, and giving them your full attention for the meager five minutes you might interact.
Realizing that many of these employees are trying to survive on minimum wage while we treat them as “less than human,” is a sad commentary to what our fast-paced society has become. Reverend Philip Wilden of Asbury Methodist Church made an excellent commentary in a past Sunday sermon, that we as individuals are “professionals at criticism but amateurs when it comes to praise.” Even though it might be difficult, starting an interaction with someone serving you at bank, fast food establishment, grocery, or retail store on a positive tone and maybe with a compliment might “make their day,” especially in a job that few of us could succeed doing or tolerate from customers.
Habitually running late is a fundamental issue for so many of us who struggle with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), especially during the holidays of being over-obligated. Add that to our over-dependence of being tethered to our cellular, family demands, numerous social events, bad weather, and additional traffic, all equals to a holiday mood that competes with the Christmas Scrooge. Some adults and those younger with ADD become so overwhelmed by this “snowball effect” that their prioritizing skills simply evaporate, along with their common courtesy.
Even though our interaction and knowledge of the personal lives of those who serve us in banking, food service or retail might be impossible, at least showing that you care as one human to another is of immeasurable value in this season of “uber-stress” we are presently encountering. Please end the cellular call when you get to the front of the line. Look the employee in the eye and address them with a holiday cheer and maybe a compliment. But most of all, give them respect, versus treating the employee like a robot without emotions or feelings, and the expectation that they should be able to endure our rudeness. If we all tried to do their jobs with the charm and tolerance most of them exhibit, while existing on minimum wage or just a few dollars more hourly, I doubt if many of us would last through that day’s shift let alone until Christmas Eve.
Mariann Main is a Licensed Counselor and a Delaware native. Her column appears weekly on Wednesdays. To submit a question and have Mariann answer it anonymously, visit delgazette.com/life-questions-with-local-answers or send mail to the Delaware Gazette office, 40 N. Sandusky St., suite 203, Delaware, OH 43015.