You know what the solution is for world peace? Have everyone work for at least 6 months at a retail or customer service position.
Because there is something powerful that happens when you're paid to serve people.
Oh, the stories I have...
I worked at Mervyn's shoe department for about a year and a half while in college. I enjoyed my job, but boy, did I encounter some annoying people! And now I have a bunch of funny stories to tell.
One woman walked up to me speaking only Spanish. Being the only Asian in my department, she proceeded to attempt to use a coupon. Then I noticed that it had expired in "Junio" when it was currently "Julio." To her surprise and dismay, I proceeded to tell her, using my broken high school Spanish, that we couldn't accept the coupon.
Another woman had me ring up around $300 work of clearance items (two baskets full) and then tried to use two coupons. When she found out she couldn't stack coupons, she proceeded to go through the entire pile and narrow it down to $50 worth. Her transaction alone took almost 45 minutes.
On top of it all, some people are just rude or grumpy or grouchy, and they treat you like you're the cause of it all.
And all the while, I have to smile, answer her questions, and say "Thank you and have a great day."
Having to be forced to be nice has its benefits. Granted, you would hope that our patient and gentle human spirit would arise naturally, but in reality, sometimes you need that extra reminder to just be nice. And sometimes that extra reminder comes in the form of a paycheck, a job, and the ever present saying that "The customer is always right".
One benefit is that you begin to internalize some of the habits you learn at work. After being treated poorly by a good handful of customers, I vowed never to complain to someone in the service industry unless it was truly warranted. As a result, I am much more pleasant to cashiers, clerks, and waiters, knowing what it feels like to be on their end. Who knows why they are having a bad day?
The Holidays Are Coming!
With the Christmas shopping season just around the corner, those in retail are bracing themselves for the onslaught of the gruesome side of humanity. And the holidays are tough times for lots of people: financially, emotionally, and spiritually. On top of it all, they are supposed to have good cheer?
I would encourage everyone to be extra gracious to the customers and the employees this holiday season. Even though we saw Christmas decorations up in September (whyyyy?!), Black Friday, one of the most deadly shopping days of the year, rapidly approaches. Let's be careful not to run people physically or verbally. As cheesy as it sounds, let's spread the holiday cheer.
Soli Deo Gloria.
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