Witness or watcher?
At the pharmacy tonight, a customer screamed at one cashier that she was, “(Edit: something NOT NICE OR PC)” for allegedly inputting her card number incorrectly.
The customer was on her cellphone while being rung up. She did this all in the presence of two young girls (daughters?) she was toting with her. Every other employee and customer heard her.
I turned my head and gawked in amazement at this atrocity. I was offended, not for the language used, but her audacity to be so cruel to someone working, and in front of her (possibly) children, and in public without fear of retribution.
Afterwards, the other restless customers had the classic I-don’t-want-to-get-involved demeanor.
Unsurprising, since the customer behind me loudly and unhappily asked if there was no one else working before this debacle just moments earlier. She was merely a few feet away from an employee who was helping another customer on the floor.
And she was not waiting very long before she decided to become a human loudspeaker on behalf of the two other customers on line: me and an off-the-clock employee, seemingly using part of her union-mandated break time to buy some mints.
It seems like everyone gets impatient waiting in slow-moving checkout lines. I try to be as patient and kind to the workers as possible. I empathize with them because I, too, worked in retail and know the pain.
Still, I can’t help but feel guilty for the mature cashier, who I see every time I visit the pharmacy. She completely did not deserve that.
I can’t imagine many situations in which you can verbally assault someone in front of your children for minor inconveniences, but it happens so often.
I apologized to my own cashier, a different person. He smiled painfully in response.
I should have asked the other cashier if she was okay, as well. All I could hope was that my apology was heard by other witnesses, and it altered the overall emotional climate in the store after I left.
If We Cannot Be Kind To Each Other…
Let us keep bullying at bay by reaching out to the victims. Speak out against even these seemingly miniscule atrocities. A job position does not denote mental abuse from numerous customers over long periods of time.
We are all humans. Empathize with each other. Name-calling, aggression, and intimidation are not appropriate ways to engage with people who are trying to help you.
It happens, we see it happen, sometimes we are at fault ourselves.
We can try to be better.
How would you feel if someone accosted you at your job that way? Or, how many of you *have* been accosted at your job this way?
How many impatient people blatantly insulting and humiliating you in front of many others would it take to break you?
Get involved. Call it out. Say SOMETHING. DO SOMETHING.
Retail workers are frequently demeaned and often deal with irrational behavior from disgruntled shoppers in a variety of ways.
I live in New York City. We are famous for being agitated and restless. Any New Yorker who has a rush hour commute can sympathize with the brusque.
But an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
And I will find a way to make this situation a bit better. Perhaps I can call Rite Aid and explain to a manager what happened. I could say she handled it very well and I’m sorry for what happened.
Humanizing tips for the anxious, apathetic, and too-high-to-think-properly
- Practice patience. Live in the present moment.
- Learn to apologize after losing your temper (when you cool off.) It isn’t about being right or wrong, it is about showing sympathy for our fellow humans.
- Ask victims if they are okay when it is safe and appropriate.
- Speak up when you can. Reach out when you can.
- Compliment helpful employees to their managers when you have the time.
- Leave good tips for people who work for tips. Use your best judgement.
- Treat others how you’d want to be treated in their position.
I could have said something. I should have said something. I wasn’t brave, but I’m working on it.
We may not be able to stop the bad, but we can show support to those who are on the recieving end of it.
I get scared when I see someone being emotionally abusive to their kids, food service workers, and retail employees. I see it all the time.
Sometimes I’m too scared that the original victim will receive more backlash if I say something, so I say nothing.
Sometimes I am worried that I will be attacked for speaking up, and still I say nothing.
Now I am going to try harder to speak up when I see something wrong. As safely for me and the victim as possible.
Bullies act this way towards people they consider to be in a vulnerable status. It is a power trip. Bring these people back to Earth. Make them reconsider their actions.
I hope that you will consider this and try to do the same. It’s not easy to speak up for others, but perhaps that will encourage someone to speak up for us if we become a victim.
Spread love, pray for those who are in need. Let us set off a chain reaction of love and care and support.
And so it is.