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How rude

I recently had the best cell phone buying experience ever. The young salesman was friendly, helpful, patient, competent, and respectful. A rarity in the cell phone sales world in my experience. But why should that be a standout? Shouldn’t it be a standard?

During my four years as a business school instructor, I taught a multitude of courses, including two of my favorites: customer service, and human relations. For some reason, it was necessary to teach high school graduates how to treat the customer and their coworkers right. In my opinion, customer service is just an extension of the courtesies you should learn at home.

In the last month, I have received numerous compliments about how polite my children are. I’m gratified and delighted that they don’t act like animals when I’m not around, but seriously, all they do is say “please” and “thank you” and don’t talk back. I find it unfortunate that their attitudes are considered noteworthy, when I consider it basic good manners. What kind of monsters are these people dealing with on a daily basis?

I think maybe I’ve met a few of their older siblings in my daily errands.

My list of infractions has been growing and I thought I’d have a little rant today on some of the things that tick me off, most of which have happened to me fairly recently.

  • The grocery store clerk who talks to another clerk, or the bagger, during the entire transaction, never once verbally acknowledging my presence while happily taking my money.
  • The hair stylist who walks in the door at 10 am, for my 10 o’clock appointment. It then takes her ten minutes to “get ready”. Hey, I was ready.
  • The aesthetician who takes a client who is very late, thus not getting to me until almost an hour after my allotted time (even though I was on time). Then telling me it’s not her fault. In my opinion the client should have cancelled, but since she had no sense, the salon should have told her she had to reschedule.
  • The waiters who try to impress you by taking your entire order without writing it down. Really, this is probably the restaurant’s fault, but I’m rarely impressed because they almost always forget something or mess it up. Cool is not always customer friendly.
  • The movers who stacked heavy boxes on top of my leather club chair, eventually causing a nice, 3-inch puncture in the back of the seat. Ditto for the desk that collapsed under the weight.
  • The kids who play on my friend’s swing set in her backyard, completely uninvited, while the parents look on.
  • The people you stop for in the grocery store parking lot so they can cross the street, then they proceed to stroll—along the longest possible route—to the other side, stopping to smell the asphalt and skip through the gravel along the way.

Rude, rude, rude. It’s all about priorities, the Golden Rule, and respect. How hard is that?

We need more companies like Nordstrom, Target, Southwest Airlines, and Apple in this world. We need more parents willing to hold their kids accountable for their behavior. I believe kids should be seen and heard, sit at the dinner table with us, have some say in the things we do as a family, be playful, and even disagree with us. But they also need to understand the simple rules of polite interaction.

If they don’t learn it as kids, they never will, and for that we all suffer.

0 Comments

  1. Curtis

    Reply

    For what it is worth, if only from the practical standpoint those who skip the teaching of respect to their children are cheating them out of an asset. ( Never mind respect is at the core of community)

    As you have so clearly illustrated, respect is a priceless commodity today.

    My sons have translated their capacity for respect into a customer approach that has them both at the top of the list of sales in their respective companies. They will both tell you two things. I know my product and I respect the customer as a person. Oddly enough for both of them they have customers who have also become good friends. The customer to friend route yielded them both large customers. The chicken or the egg?

    I don’t care who draws it up. Life is still about respect and relationships.

    Gwen. Thank you for this. May your tribe increase.

    • Reply

      Thanks, Curtis. Can you tell I feel strongly about this? 😉 Your boys are perfect examples of the fruits of respect.

      I think that knowing their product is part of respecting the customer. Otherwise, they’re not properly equipped to be of help.

      You pegged it: those who skip the teaching of respect to their children are cheating them out of an asset.

      Have a great weekend!

      • Curtis

        Reply

        Well, I did notice just a twinge of interest. And, I’m sure you could tell I’m milk and cookies on the idea.

        Now, if we really want to light the place up I’ll get Norma, my sweet bride to share with us. Prepare for the server to crash. 🙂

        Thanks.

  2. Dunx

    Reply

    Another example of driving rudeness: if I need to turn around in the road and the road is not wide enough to make a U-turn, then I need to make a three point turn. When I was learning to drive, if I encountered someone else making a turn in the road then I would stop and wait for them to finish, but so often I find other drivers here in Oregon will nip past as I get to one side of the road.

    Now, is it just me that finds this both toweringly rude but downright dangerous? How does the other driver know that I’ve seen them? Couldn’t they have the patience to wait another fifteen second while I complete my manoeuvre?

    I am astonished by this every time it happens. I am almost looking forward to making three point turns in Britain when we visit later in the year to see if this behaviour has become normal there.

  3. Reply

    I know what you mean, Dunx. Everyone is so impatient. If I’m waiting to learn left and there’s only one lane, drivers will pass on the shoulder.

    I’ll be curious to hear if your experience in Britain is different. You’ll come back and hear all about the rude driver who kept making three-point turns and holding up traffic. 😉

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Reply

    Great post I agree completely.

    grocery clerks are the worst, this happens all the time. Next time that happens I’m going to pretend I’m on the phone and cuss repeatedly.

    Hair stylist thing is pretty typical. Those slackers are great at cutting hair but bad at showing up early.

    I would have walked out of the nail place. I wouldn’t wait that long for a $20 bill much less to spend money. That’s crap.

    The waiters with no note pad is a joke. They try to impress you but by the time they come back the third time it’s just annoying.

    Mover are hit or miss. Good ones are great but hard to find

    Kids thing is the worse. I can guarantee you need to nip that in the bud. Tell the parents politely that it’s private property and for insurance purposes they can’t play on your play set. I’m sure there is a light way to put it, if they don’t listen you need to be more blunt.

    Just once I want to rev the engine and scare the shit out of those idiots at the grocery store parking lot.

    • Reply

      Wow, Rich, you hit every point. 😉 The only reason I waited an hour at the salon was because I didn’t want to have to go back, and I didn’t have anywhere to be that morning. On the plus side, the manager recognized it was poor service and comped my bill without me even asking.

      I’ll give my friend your advice on the neighbors kids, but she doesn’t want to make waves with people she lives near. Of course, they don’t seem to mind making waves with her.

      Vroom, vroom…

  5. Reply

    Awesome post! and I agree on just about everything. I get so annoyed with people who take their sweet time just because they can. That goes for people crossing the street too. I understand they have the right of way, and I am happy to give it to them, but why do they have to slow down to a snail’s pace? Just to prove the point that they do, in fact, have the right of way?

    The waiter thing doesn’t really bother me. I’ve waited enough tables to know that I can take orders and memorize them easily. If it’s a big group, writing things down is smart, but 2 people can’t order too many things to remember. I once had a customer who got mad at me for not writing his order down because he KNEW I would forget. They order 2 large pepperoni pizzas; pretty sure I got that one. I never once had to go back and ask what they had ordered.

    And I don’t for one second pretend that my kids are perfect, but they are required to be polite. If they aren’t (because sometimes kids have bad days), we leave, and that rarely happens. What is equally as rude is when strangers feel they have the right to comment on my kids’ behavior because they feel like they know everything about child-rearing.

    Sorry for the rant! Again, loved the post.

    • Reply

      Thanks, AnnieD! I almost didn’t put the waiter thing in there. Some are really good at it, but I guess they should be honest with themselves about it.

      I’m right with you on people commenting, although, I’ll always take the good comments. =) Once I had kids, I was much more understanding of annoying behavior.

      We’re big on follow through, so our boys used to throw tantrums and we didn’t give in. The poor people around us probably wanted to call CPS. But it didn’t take long for my kids to learn that it didn’t work, and the tantrums stopped.

      I had to put my complaints in a post because I’d never say it to someone’s face!

      Rant away. That’s why we’re here. 😉

      • Reply

        I definitely understand behavior issues more now that I am a mom! What I know now is that even when you do follow through and you do discipline your kids and you do pay attention to them, they still misbehave sometimes. People assume that if a kid is throwing a fit at a restaurant it happens all the time and the parents never do anything about it. Yes, those parents exist, but sometimes parents are teaching their kid a lesson. Passing judgment isn’t going to change anything.

        And I put my complaints in writing daily, reason # 1 why I started a blog. But I have been known to tell people to back off and mind their own business as well 🙂

  6. Reply

    I’m sick of it! There’s no accountability. No consequences. People don’t own their behavior anymore.

    Whether people can find a solution for this or not, I do feel it all starts at home. There are more parents now that are lazy and they’re just not that interested in making sure their kids learn the respect they need to learn.

    Disgusting.

    • Reply

      Yeah, I think I hit the end of my rope this week. I wonder if those parents who don’t teach it didn’t get it either.

      Somewhere along the way it became cool to be a jerk. I wish I had an answer instead of just a complaint. I guess my answer is to do what I can in my little piece of the world.

      Chin up! 😉

  7. Reply

    Gwen (& everyone else),
    Completely agree. Our son is polite and respectful as much as he can be, but even 6 year olds have a breaking point. When he tried to throw tantrums in restaurants, we’d leave. I didn’t want to be infrigning on any one else’s dinner. Now, he will cut me a look when we’re in a restaurant and someone ELSE is misbehaving and say, “that’s just not right mommy…”

    Gotta love it.

    And yes, there are so many people out there who just refuse to own responsibility for anything. They’re impatient and feeling put upon, neither is an excuse for bad behavior or dangerous behavior.

    Wish I had a solution too :/

    • Reply

      Thanks for dropping in, Sybir. There are definitely two sides of the discipline coin. On the one hand, we have to not give in, even in public, but yes, part of respecting others is not subjecting them to your screaming kid either.

      No wonder no one wants to take responsibility. 😉

  8. Reply

    Amen, Gwen, to all of that.

    My kids were taught to be polite to everyone, no matter the other person’s age.

    After working in customer service for two large corporations, I can tell you you don’t have to be the brightest bulb in the pack to get ahead, mostly common sense and politeness (aren’t they pretty much the same?) will do it.

    I’m constantly surprised by how old and young alike are rude and then wonder why they can’t get ahead.

    One of my biggies is punctuality. When you’re hired on, you’re told your hours. Not just 8 hrs but what time to be there. There’s a reason for it. When you don’t show up for 30 minutes and do this nearly everyday, a light should come on in your heard to tell you to leave your house 30 minutes earlier. Duh!

    And the thing with the stylish is true. Most don’t care. (not all of course). Thankfully my mom wasn’t like that (she was one and now retired) and the lady I see. I had one do me that way too many times and I never went back. Too many others can do the job.

    • Reply

      Hey, Carla! It’s true that just a little smarts would help. I was joking with my husband that the good cell phone salesman (fresh out of HS!), would probably be store manager in the next 6 months and that we’d have the irritating clerks helping customers again. 😉

      I worked with a woman who was perpetually late. She gave an excuse about child care, so my boss let her start work 30 minutes later. Guess what? Yeah, after another month or so of being late: fired. Sad.

  9. Curtis

    Reply

    Clearly you need to start another blog! Maybe we can start a movement. Own the World: Practice The art of Courtesy and Common Sense.

    • Reply

      Ha, Curtis. I can barely keep up with one blog. But hey, if you want to start a movement I’ll be happy to join up. 😉

      OWPACCS members unite!

  10. Christine

    Reply

    I remember a “friend” telling me I was too strict with my daughter years ago. Why? Because when I said no, I meant it. I do believe in honoring her as a person, and I can’t say we’re perfect parents or she’s a perfect person. BUT she is polite, well-regarded, sweet natured to the world around her. It is OUR job as parents to teach these skills, reinforce them at home and also recognize that we are also accountable to our children. If we want them to treat us and others with dignity and respect, then we should work hard to give them that same dignity and respect.

    I must say as far as the grocery clerks go, I do not have that problem here. To be honest, I have witnessed customers treat the checkers with extreme rudeness: talking on their cell phones, not treating the clerks with respect and honoring their humanity, and basically acting as if the check out cashier is not there.

    It always boils down to my life philosophy: treat others with dignity and respect regardless of their role in your life or the duration of that role and you will most likely get the same in response.

    But then I think the technological, anonymous age has brought some of this on. While a blessing in so many ways, I can’t really understand some of the rude posts I read on FB, on Twitter, and more. We are living in a desensitized age. This is why I try to reach out in person more and more.

    🙂

    • Reply

      Yep, Christine. In the end we have to do what we think is correct for our children. If we’re true to that, that’s the best we can do.

      And I agree that in the end, no matter which end of the transaction you’re on, respect is key.

      I hope you had a great time at M&M. Talk to you soon!

  11. Reply

    Thanks to all my friends/readers who retweeted this post. The way the WordPress search works, I can’t always tell who you are, but I sincerely appreciate it.

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