Respect needed from all fronts

Fears are often the result of conditioning. Some seemingly irrational fears happen because of evolution. Our ancestors were probably afraid of the dark because it meant a saber-toothed tiger could be anywhere, waiting to pounce.

The exact cause of one of my greatest fears comes from my dad. As kids, he always prepped me and my siblings for social events with a stern warning to be appropriate and, above all, respectful.

Since then, I’ve been petrified to misplace a giggle, a sour facial expression or have a conversation even a decibel above polite. I also go impossibly red when my friends act out of line.

That is why I was overwhelmed by the response I received from my recent column (“U employees need a lesson in hospitality,” Oct. 3). Many people felt students have a responsibility to be respectful as well. I couldn’t agree more.

The incident that prompted me to write on the service at football games stemmed from a bully employee. Everyone can have a bad day, but it surprised me still when he responded to my absolute compliance with yells of intimidation. If I had been snarky to him first, then I would have been more deserving of this treatment. However, too often both customers and employees, especially in the service industry, get caught in a cycle of rude and disrespectful behavior.

Students often have jobs in the service industry. Nothing can ruin a day at work like an unnecessarily foul-tempered customer. The situation is made worse by being expected to treat them as superior beings.

We are so pampered in this country that the common sentiment has unfortunately become that we are owed all good things. Waiters and cashiers are dehumanized as they are only seen as vessels to provide us with luxuries.

It’s no wonder there is so much inequality in customer service-client relations. It’s worse than thinking, “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine.”

What we need instead is a mentality of, “I actually want to scratch your back because you are a human being who is helping me out and is most likely inherently good.”

I wouldn’t even know how to suggest this come about, but I do know that being both a pleasant customer and employee has a “pay-it-forward” effect. Cheesy, yes, but monumental change is the result of an individual experience.

I’m not sure I want to ever conquer my fear of acting inappropriately, but with the fear of sounding too bossy, I’d like to pass along a bit of advice Bill and Ted taught me years ago: “Be excellent to each other.”

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Anne Roper