Mind your manners

For many years I had a variety of jobs while I put myself through college. The jobs ranged from server, hostess, bartender and retail. Each job provided me with skills I could apply to any other position.

In our house, the running joke is that if I were to ever run for political office, the platform would include a bill requiring everyone to work a public service job, whether the various restaurant positions, retail or a day care. Just think about how understanding people would be to each other. People wouldn’t be impatient while waiting in line for a table because they had been on the other side. People wouldn’t be rude to a shop person because they understood how stressful his/her job could be. I’m preaching patience over here. (And mandatory name tags, but that’s a different story. I’ll let your mind wander a bit with that one.)

Both my children have worked and are working a variety of jobs, from cleaning houses to maintenance. Sadly, some of the stories they tell are similar to what my husband and I experienced over 30 years ago. There are always going to be people who aren’t going to be nice. There will be people who feel that dining out means checking their own manners at the establishment’s door. There will be unhappy people no matter how hard the staff works to accommodate special requests during a pandemic. Yes, every business has a person who has been unsatisfied with a job and takes it out on the customers, but I find that to be pretty rare. No owner wants to have such a person represent his/her business. Miserable workers weed themselves out of jobs quickly. Miserable customers don’t have the same filtering system.

I think about the skills my children are learning through their various jobs and how they can apply them to their futures. I’m not sure what they plan on doing “when they grow up.” My current goals for them are quite simple. I hope they learn to negotiate with a rude customer rather than to be a rude customer. I hope they learn phone etiquette and to multi-task. I hope they learn to budget their money and understand tipping is never optional. I hope they learn they may not enjoy every position, but to always do their best. Of course, I always hope they are patient and kind. It is part of my pretend political campaign.

I don’t know all of your backgrounds, and this isn’t a job interview. I hope you are, at the least, following the very minimal rules set down for my young adults. Let’s not be outdone by the youth. It could destroy the whole “lazy kids these days” rhetoric.


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