Growing up, I was taught you treated everyone the same. It didn’t matter if they were the bank president or the janitor – they all were treated with the same level of respect.
Not everyone was raised that way, however, and there’s enough rude people in the world as evidence to that fact.
My grandfather always said you could tell a lot about a person by a few things – how they treated animals and how they treated people that were serving them in some way.
“Those two things show their character,” he said.
Pop always said if someone treated either one of those poorly, I needed to run the other way.
I’ve seen negative occurrences of that more times than I care for in my lifetime.
People who are incredibly rude for no reason, people who were demanding, customers who thought they could bully their way through life.
I’ve witnessed it in just about every job I have had, regardless of what the position was.
People, for whatever reason, treating someone else poorly.
A dear friend shared a Facebook post the other day about some of the skills restaurant employees have.
It was a reminder of how some people were still not giving restaurant workers the respect they deserved, just because they didn’t have a string of letters following their title.
Servers, bartenders, and just about anyone that works in food service must be able to deal with demanding customers who are not only hangry but sometimes ill-tempered to begin with.
Working in the restaurant industry can be hard work.
Heck, anytime you are having to deal with people it can be tough, but people can be particularly nasty when interacting with servers. I think some people go out to eat just to try to pick a fight with someone doing their job.
The same goes for retail workers.
Having experience in retail myself, I know how people can be at times.
For the most part, I had wonderful customers, but there were always those stragglers that made me grit my teeth when I saw them walk in the store.
The ones that demand you accept a return that goes against store policy or take a coupon that expired a month before.
They tend to forget, most employees don’t have any control over those things.
Character, according to Goethe, is how you treat someone who can do absolutely nothing for you.
In those cases, these disrespectful people were mistreating the very ones that could help them which shows some people may be lacking character all around.
Now, add in a pandemic on top of it and we’ve got an even bigger test of character.
When I was picking up my groceries the other day, the girl who normally brings my order out was telling me how a customer made her cry the day before.
A grown man got out of his car and yelled at this girl – she couldn’t be over 20 years old.
I felt so sorry for her and at the same time, it made me angry.
There’s no excuse for us to yell at someone. There’s no excuse to make someone that is just doing their job cry. Pandemic or no.
I told her as much.
Granny always said money or getting a big, quick chunk of it, like in a lottery win, revealed a person’s true character.
I definitely agree with that, but I also think a crisis can reveal our character some, too.
We’ve seen a lot of people reacting pretty harshly the last few weeks.
Tempers are shortened.
People are scared and for different reasons.
Some people were ready to go out to eat and do things, while others thought we needed to wait a bit longer.
A few have even said their mental health was declining by being locked up inside.
I’ve said it before, and I will say it again.
We all are coping with these changes the best way we can.
But there’s no excuse for yelling at an essential worker on the frontlines – none. How would that person feel if that was their daughter that had been yelled at?
See, I think one of the lessons we are needing to learn through all of this is to put ourselves in another person’s shoes for just a second. Just one.
To have some empathy – but I think a lot of people don’t even know what empathy means.
Empathy means you can acknowledge how crappy something is, even if or more so if you aren’t being directly impacted by the situation. You don’t have to have a personal experience to understand something may be difficult for someone else.
How would those people feel if that happened to them or to someone they loved?
Long before this pandemic began and created these changes, we had lost some of our character and a lot of our compassion and empathy along with it. This whole mess has just illuminated those traits humanity is lacking on a larger level.
My heart hurt for that young girl.
She was just doing her job.
As I drove away, I saw a small sign littered among the political signs on the side of the road.
“We will be OK” was all it said. Seeing those words made me choke up. Someone somewhere cared enough to put that reminder out there – a message of hope, of recovery.
We will be OK.
We just need to do a little character building first.