Have you ever been in line at a fast food place, hotel or anywhere and see the person in front of you become rude with the employee? They didn’t become rude because the employee was rude but rude because they were just rude. Do you know what that says about you? Next time you are in line somewhere when an employee asks you how you are respond with a positive upbeat answer and then ask them how they are!
I’m not sure being polite to convenience store clerks has ever been covered completely in self-help literature, but I think it may be one of the best things we can do to actually become, and remember, who we really are.
Have you ever been in a store, or a fast food restaurant, or even a hotel, and seen the person in front of you be rude to the employee behind the counter? I certainly have. I’ve seen hotel clerks stand up to abuse I would never have taken, and thank the people for their business. I’ve seen McDonald’s employee accept demeaning comments without a blink. And I’ve seen employees of many companies refuse to respond when baited by rude customers.
This says a lot about the employees. I certainly don’t think I could react the way I see these people react.
But what particularly interests me is what it says about the people exhibiting the rude behavior. I’m talking about people who are rude not because the employee is rude, but because the employee is an employee.
Almost every major spiritual tradition has some guideline on treating other people well. I say “almost” to cover myself, because I’ve never heard of one that does not have such a guideline.
I try to be as positive and upbeat as I can be, all the time. Sometimes I slip and act a little grumpy or depressed. But in general, when someone takes my order or checks me out, when they automatically say, “Hi, how are you?” I respond enthusiastically that I’m doing great, and then say, “How are you?”
I have actually had store clerks look at me in surprise before responding. I’m never sure if they didn’t understand me or if they’re just astonished that I asked. I suspect they don’t encounter absolutely enthusiastic inquiries into their well-being all that often.
I don’t think most of us usually treat people badly. But I think sometimes we’re so caught up in our own “stuff” that we don’t really pay that much attention. We may be lost in thought, and when the cashier at the gas station asks how we are, we just grunt okay and go on.
I don’t think that’s really who we are. I think we really do want to be aware of, polite to, and kind to people around us, and I think that the people we really are become very visible when we do this. I think we feel we’re at our best when we’re treating everyone we meet well.