"Those people at the post office just don't care."
"Don't get me started on the nurses at the hospital. They could care less about patients."
"I told that server that I needed gluten-free food and he just looked at me like I was crazy."
"Those airline workers toss our luggage around on purpose. They don't care at all about our stuff."
We have probably all made such comments at various times in our lives. No one pays attention, no one cares about us, our time, or our things. I know I've said things myself after experiencing what seemed like poor attitudes or uncaring customer service. I wonder if the shoe was on the other foot, what would those workers say about us?
At the post office, it might sound like this: "They expect us to treat their package like gold, even though they only put it in a shoe box and secured it with scotch tape. And didn't have the right postage on it. And wrote the addresses illegibly. And complained about standing in line when their poor preparation held up the line much longer than they actually waited."
At the cafeteria: "We prepare meals for 300 people a day, breakfast, lunch and dinner. I'm here at 4:00 am to get breakfast ready. Sometimes my kids have to get themselves off to school and I hate that but this job requires working shift work. We cook a wide variety of food because everyone wants something different: eggs, bacon, pancakes, grits, oats, you name it--and we try to vary up the menu so people have a change, and to accommodate vegetarian and vegan people. After meals I'm assigned to getting all the dishes into the dishwasher. I'm on my feet for my entire shift except for my 30-minute lunch break, and boy does it feel good to sit down! Now we are also trying to meet the needs of gluten-free, peanut-oil free, dairy-free and other special diets and we can do it with advance notice, but if they don't tell us we don't fix those options because they go to waste. And it limits the time we can spend on other food prep. But boy do I catch it when I'm on the serving line and we don't have the right food for someone! I just wish, for one day, they'd try working on this side of the line so they can see how hard we try."
At the hospital: "You'd think her mother is the only patient we have. I've been here 11 hours already because we're so short-staffed. I have 30 patients to tend to and the nurse's assistant called in sick and the substitute isn't returning calls. I've got charts to update, paperwork to complete and a sick child at home, an underwater mortgage and my mother with Alzheimer's. And now the hospital is talking about further cuts even though we're expanding."
At the airport: "We handle 30,000 pieces of luggage a day, weighing as much as 70 pounds apiece. I've got to load it, sort it, get it to the right plane by the right time or I could lose my job. I'm working two jobs to make ends meet and it isn't enough. Have to work shifts and I worry about my teenage kids who are giving the wife a hard time right now because they want to be out running around every night. I've got something wrong with my back and every night my feet ache for hours. But I can't say anything, because, you know, I can be replaced."
(And check this out: "In truth, a modern baggage operation is a mashup of high-tech innovation and old-fashioned grunt work. Nowhere is this more critical than in the task of transferring bags from one flight to another—which is where most bag snafus occur. Atlanta, the ultimate fortress hub for Delta, has long been the country’s top connecting depot. Of the 100,000-odd checked bags that are handled here by Delta every day, 70,000 are tossed from plane to plane. The bags making the tightest connections are called “hot bags” and have less than 60 minutes to transit the tarmac. These make the “tail to tail” trip ferried in carts by drivers relying on wireless tablets that direct them to specific flights and automatically update them when gates or departure times change." From cntraveler.com )
The key, I think, is to put ourselves in the worker's place. Do we have a back problem, aching feet, allergies, aging parents and children to worry about? Do we have worries about keeping our jobs, paying the bills, holding our marriage together? So do those workers on the other side. Perhaps instead of complaining we should try looking the clerk/nurse/cook/etc in the eye, smile, and slow down. Maybe the problem, or part of it, is us. Maybe?
Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.