When Did Being Rude Become A Culture?

November 29, 2014 (original post here)

So I survived my first black Friday in retail, ever! As I went throughout my day at work I had three customers come up to my cash-wrap. They were purchasing 3 items: 2 scarves and a jacket. I took out the larger of the decorated bags we had to fix everything, but they told me they wanted to separate it, so I pulled out a smaller version of the bigger bag and they said that they wanted the bigger bag, they wanted to put one scarf in the big bag. I informed them that when it comes to our bags, we’re usually supposed to provide the bag that’ll fit their items. One of the ladies got extremely upset with me and started raising her voice. I told her that I’ll bend the rules and provide her with the bigger bag, and she immediately started yelling at me demanding me to provide her with my name and information for where she can report me for bad customer service.

I can’t begin to tell you how frustrated that got me. I could do nothing because in the retail world, “The customer is always right,” and I had other customers waiting in line and I just wanted them gone and out of the way. Now, some of you may be wondering why we don’t typically allow customers to get extra bags and provide them with big bags, the main reason behind this is because we can’t always keep an eye on them and sometimes customers will be able to stuff other things in the bags before exiting the store, and if the security sensors go off, we’ll think nothing of it because they have the bags. It’s a way for us to protect ourselves and our merchandise.

This incident isn’t the only thing that fired me up to write this. It seems that people know-a-days feel entitled to things. For example, if you’re at a restaurant and the waiter doesn’t come by to bring you more water you tend to get frustrated, and if you’re like me, you begin to think, “When will this waiter bring me my water? I’ve been waiting for the past 5 minutes and he’s walked past our table 4 times and hasn’t even checked in once.” I become all about me, and I begin to think that the waiter should pay more attention to me. 

In the past couple of years, I tried to change my perspective on it. There’s a saying that I think about all the time before I honk my horn at someone or I start getting frustrated and yelling at them; that saying is: You Never Know The Battles That Person Is Going Through. Maybe the reason why the waiter didn’t ask me if I needed more water was because he was too busy taking care of another waiter’s tables because they were one person short that day. Maybe the reason why someone cut me off while I was on the road that day was because they were late to an interview that could lead to a life changing opportunity. 

Working retail has been able to show me the good and bad side of people. I’ve been able to have encounters and interactions with really neat and interesting people. I’ve had the opportunity to hear how some people have gotten into their professions or the adventures that they’re taking their family on; I get to be a part of that. However, I’ve been able to see people turn on sales associates in a snap. I’ve seen them going from being happy and smiley to getting frustrated and demanding to see the manager. What I sometimes don’t understand is why people think that as sales associates or managers, we should have the ability to change company policy or to even break the company rules. Do they think that they’re that special? What makes them that special? It’s things like that which frustrates me. I don’t think people realize that when a company makes 1 exception, you have to basically make the same exception for another customer. 

Being rude, and feeling entitled is something that makes me cringe. Just because someone is working in a “lower position” than you doesn’t mean that it automatically makes you better than them. The janitor you made fun of could be a well-off gentleman or woman who just enjoys being alone and cleaning. Or maybe the waiter that you just cussed out is working to pay his way to move to another state to start an amazing job opportunity. You never know the circumstances that someone is in and you never know who that person is. Maybe the cashier at one of your retail stores, in which you demanded to speak to the manager, is actually the son of a senator. There are so many things that go on in someone’s life that we don’t know. When things don’t go our way, we automatically get frustrated and start speaking to the other person in a harsher tone and/or shorter sentences. 

My hope is that, as the holiday season comes right around the corner, we take a second before we honk our horn, curse at the person, or threaten to talk to their manager; we accept the fact that:

  1. We don’t know what that person is/has going/gone through
  2. Respect company policies, and if a manager says it’s policy respect it and choose not to shop there 
  3. Take a second and put yourself in their shoes

Maybe if we start looking at things from someone else’s perspective, then maybe we won’t resort to rudeness. As far as that lady goes, I hope karma gets her back. I was only doing my job, but in my opinion she was being ridiculous. She wanted to put a scarf in a bag that is supposed to be able to hold 4 pairs of jeans, or 4 zip-up jackets, or 2 heavy coats. I was trying to protect my company and I was doing my job as a sales associate, she didn’t only bruise my confidence in my job, she also hurt my self-confidence. After she left I could feel my eyes starting to get red, and my hands started shaking. It was nice to know that the other customers that I interacted with were pleasant and appreciated my help. 


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