On a recent flight home from New York City, I was seated in first class and once again, I was amused by the petty gripes and groans from the My Poop Don’t Stink crowd heaped upon the flight personnel. One particularly foul turd found it imperative to complain about the lack of closet space for his hanging bag, directing his choice-language ire at a hapless flight attendant who graciously tried to inform him that the plane was equipped with racks that would be adequate for stowing his gear.
Perhaps it was the warm weather causing his discomfort; perhaps he was deflecting his disgust that the National League was shut out at the MLB All-Star game; perhaps it was because he would actually have to expend more than 2 calories to get to the area referred to by the attendant. But it was probably because he is a jackass who believes he is above the “common folk” and deserves every courtesy and accommodation.
I learned a long time ago that it’s perfectly fine to be courteous and cordial with, say, the drive-through clerk at a fast food restaurant. This revelation led to me being nice to the department store clerk, which led me to be nice to the person that cleans the bathrooms, and so on and so forth. Why? Simple. It’s the right thing to do. Sure, I may have more education and more experience than a lot of people that work at these places but hey, my smarts and my position plus a buck fifty will get me a Coke at the local corner store just the same as anyone else.
There is also power in treating people respectfully. You have the power to change a bad day or to enlighten an already fine day. Think about that: Your simple, free gesture of kindness can impact an exponential number of people. You’re nice to the clerk, who is nice to a nervous job candidate on their way to an important interview, who now has the confidence to nail the interview, etc.
What about you? How do you treat others you encounter throughout your day? If you’re not treating others as nice as you should, try to improve on that. Even if it’s an act, it could become a habit. And when it’s a habit, it’s behavior. Besides, being nice to people FEELS good. It makes you happy, knowing that you treated someone with dignity and courtesy. It’s hard to feel bad or to feel sorry for yourself when you have a warm feeling in your body and in your soul. Those who work in the service industry are continually subjected to rude behavior and irate customers. Sure, it comes with the territory but these people are human, and it WILL wear on a person after a while. I’ve never worked in the service industry, nor do I claim to know anything about the service industry other than I’m a customer and it’s their job to make sure I’m satisfied with my experience in their establishment. Does that give me a license to treat them like dog shit? Hell no, and hell no. As I said, I understand the professional relationship between me and the employee. But I’ve found that the service improves in direct correlation to the courtesy extended to the worker. Better service AND you make someone feel appreciated? That’s a win-win in my book.
I wonder what happened to Mr. If-I-Don’t-Have-My-Way-I’ll-Pout. Did the stewardesses leave him be, or did they exact some covert revenge, ala a little pinch of laxative in Sunshine’s lunch? I wonder if he WAS simply having a bad day and the flight attendants just happened to be the unlucky ones to bear the brunt of his displeasure with an outside element. I doubt it, though. This guy seemed like a Grade A, from-the-bootstraps-up asshole, used to getting his way and treating the hoi polloi with the disdain and malice he feels they deserve for being beneath him. I don’t know the guy, nor do I care to meet his acquaintance again in any capacity other than sharing a few hours in the sky. But what I do know is this: my flight was awesome, and my day was even better because I treated those tasked with serving me as humans worthy of a nice word and courtesy.