Thursday, August 30, 2012

Wide Open Living

I am a people watcher. I eavesdrop and rudely pry myself into your life. You may not notice me but I am there. These days we need to live like the world sees everything that we do. Cameras in our cell phones and the Internet so wide open much of our lives are open for others to see.  I think this is a good thing. Maybe we’ll behave better. Maybe we’ll think before we say rude things to people. Sound bites and video clips following us like our shadows.

Last week I was grabbing a quick bite to eat in a fast food place. I had ordered my food and I was waiting for them to prepare it. A girl was sitting with her family at one of the tables in the dining room. I watched as she huffed out of her chair and came back to the service counter. She slammed down an item and pushed it part way across the counter exclaiming, “I said no lettuce…” as she did so.

There was nobody at the service counter but the Manager quickly came towards her. She continued her rant about specifically saying she had requested no lettuce and there was lettuce on it but no sour cream and other stuff.

The Manager started with a response about items coming standard unless specifically ordered otherwise. The girl did not want to hear this and looked at her family as yelled, “I told them no lettuce didn’t I?” They vigorously shook their heads and the Manager replied, “I didn’t hear you say that but I’ll make you a new one”

She was already in a fury and swore at him saying she didn’t want an efin new one she just won’t ever come back again.

I know the Manager didn’t handle it perfectly. There should have been an apology first and then an explanation. Maybe things would have worked out differently but the customer was rude and unreasonable too. She didn’t need to light up the store with threats and expletives. The situation was getting resolved. Why don’t we just give people a chance? Why don’t we just live like our lives are wide open for the world to see?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Faces of People

We can’t help ourselves. It is built into our DNA. We constantly judge people and make decisions about whom they are. But appearances can be deceiving.

Many years ago I was working at our location in Lansingburgh. I was a night shiftleader and worked as many hours as I could get scheduled. Friday and Saturday nights were long shifts because we closed at 5am. I liked those shifts because the hours added up so quickly. You also got to see all sorts of people. Many that you would only shake your head at and wonder. Some that you were glad that you were standing behind a 4 foot counter and did not run into on a dark street corner. There was one in particular that I remember. He was a big man. A biker. He belonged to the Hell’s Angels. He was quiet and had tattoos across his knuckles. On one hand it said, “HATE”. On the other hand it said, “LOVE”. It certainly got my attention and I knew that I didn’t want either stamped on me.

I worked with a young blond girl who got a lot of attention from the guys. She took it in stride and was able to make sure most of them behaved. One particular night I remember it started getting extremely loud in the store and I looked over and saw a couple of guys giving this young lady a hard time. She was getting flustered and as I finished up with the customer I was waiting on I turned to go help her. Before I could take a step I saw our Hell’s Angel’s friend quietly step behind these guys, grab a hold of their shirts behind their necks and lift them both off the floor. It got really quiet.

In a gentle voice he as he turned both of them to look at him he said,

“Gentlemen. I would suggest you treat this lady with a bit of respect”

He gently set them back on the floor and they immediately apologized to my co-worker.

I am a believer that people are genuinely good. Take a moment to see the real person before you judge them by their appearance.