I’ve been thinking a lot about how disillusioned I’ve found myself becoming with people in general lately so I thought I’d get some of my thoughts out here. For some context, I work two jobs. Both are customer service based and neither pays over $8.00 an hour. I have a Bachelor’s degree but these jobs are the only ones I could get in my town and I don’t have enough saved to move anyway else anytime soon. So for now, I need them. But man, are they draining and turning me into quite a cynical person, which I hate.
First of all, let me say that not every customer is an asshole. In fact, many of them seem like truly kind people. But I’d say that about half of the people I encounter during the day fail to notice that I am a human being. They are so entirely focused on their own issues that how they treat me doesn’t even register as important to them. And I used to give them the benefit of the doubt and not take the rudeness (and sometimes people are downright cruel) personally. But I’m done with that because we can do better. We can be kinder. Treating someone who barely makes enough to survive in our society as if they are your personal servant is not cool. Yelling at someone who has very little control over anything at their place of employment is worse. Little by little, every curt comment, every complaint, every annoyed sigh adds up and makes someone who’s life is already difficult feel like shit. And it is almost cowardly to start an argument with someone who will be fired if they respond any other way besides what you want.
Here’s the thing: people, like me, who work these jobs are not worthless. They aren’t idiots and they aren’t lazy. They are PEOPLE who haven’t had the same opportunities that their customers have had in life. They work for companies that see them as replaceable and not worth a living wage. These people are working these jobs because they have to, not because they are happy to be there. Many days, they are too defeated to care. So please practice compassion. Between both of my jobs I witness the entitlement that so many people live their lives with and it sickens me. Waiting in a small line has become too much of a hassle for many people and no matter how kind I am, it is never good enough.
If you are a minimum wage worker, please know that you do enough and that I understand how hard it is to put a smile on your face when confronted with people who have forgotten that you are not less than them. And know that your time and energy is worth more than you are being compensated. If you are a customer, please try to empathize. Say thank you. Be understanding and patient. If there is an issue, resolve it kindly. If a minimum wage worker doesn’t seem happy to see you, it’s because too many things have built up and make it close to impossible to pretend to be cheerful. Understand that you are not the most important customer and that sometimes, the customer is not right. If you proceed with respect, chances are you’ll receive it in return.
Sorry if this turned into sort of a rant. Actually, I’m not sorry. This is something that everybody needs to be reminded of from time to time. We need to look at each other and really see each other. My humanity doesn’t pause when I punch in for work.
Be kind, be kind, be kind.