Tim took me out for a lovely vegan meal last night. The food was great, the wine was delicious, and the waitress was super nice. Then a couple of wack-a-doots sat down next to us. At first, I found them sort of amusing: they were two totally gabby older ladies, saying border-line obnoxious things, but sort of in a clueless manner and, initially, not really bothering anyone.
But then, they started to piss me off. They were a bunch of total kvetchers and I could see the stress spreading over our waitress’s face. I felt bad for her. Working in the public service industry as well (though granted with better pay, health insurance, etc.), I know what it’s like to have people be totally rude to you, often over things that are completely out of your control. Out waitress came over and I said to her, “Don’t worry. You’ve got this” or something to that extent.
When we got our check, we were treated to this note:
I’m sharing this for two reasons: 1) Everyone thinks I’m a total grouch and I am. But I’m also nice. Here’s proof. 2) To show that it pays to be nice/kind/decent to public service workers. Sometimes your waitress can give you a little boost for acting like a proper human being. Other times, you just receive better customer service if you’re patient and civil towards your waiter/hairdresser/nanny/bus driver/nurse/librarian (ahem). If you’re not yelling at me for no real reason, I can do my work faster and better. When you yell at me or are unnecessarily impatient or rude, you’re not scaring me into being a better worker. That’s not how people operate. I get flustered, I get upset, and I can get sloppy.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you need to get all gushy and sweet to a worker who isn’t being nice to you (not all public service workers are nice people). It also doesn’t mean that the employee will be rude to you just because you’re acting out of line (I try to be just as nice to the meanies as I am to the model patrons. Whether it always comes across that way, I make no promises). But, if you see someone who’s putting forth a real effort, it does no one any good to get angry with them over things that are out of their control. Is the restaurant busy on a Friday night in NYC? Not your waiter’s fault. Is there a really long wait for your copy of 50 Shades of CrayCray? Not something your librarian can rectify.
I can’t reduce your fines just because you’re being nice to me, unfortunately. But I can deliver better customer service. We can both ensure that it’s a pleasant interaction for both of us.
I used a lot of parentheses in this post. I have no regrets.
~Love and Libraries, Ingrid