All my life I’ve heard people going on about “Everything changes in your forties” and “You’ll gain a whole new perspective once you reach middle age.” Women in their forties got all the love…apparently the fourth decade of life was the equivalent of hitting the cosmic jackpot.
Well, okay, maybe all my life is a bit of a stretch, because who’s really thinking about their forties when you’re just trying to figure out how to score some wine coolers on a Friday night? But I digress.
It would be fair to say that I started coming across this concept fairly regularly once I hit my late twenties, though. In magazines, on talk shows – everyone was bragging about how wise you got at forty, how you gained a clarity that suddenly made life all namaste.
In my twenties and thirties it pretty much sounded like a load of crap that middle-aged women told themselves so they wouldn’t be bummed about turning forty. But here I am, blogging away at the ripe old age of 44, and I can say without reservation that it wasn’t a crock. I’ll be damned if every word of it didn’t turn out to be true: I’m definitely more confident, and I’ve gained a remarkable clarity when it comes to the world around me.
This shift in perspective has led to some attitude changes, particularly when it comes to the behavior I’m willing to accept in other people. And after years of experiencing me one way I can see how my new attitude might be somewhat, well, startling to those around me. But such is life, right?
When you think about it, most jobs have a customer service component. There are very few occupations that completely isolate you from the people who benefit from your labor; some are simply more straightforward when it comes to the definition of “customer.” My time answering phone calls from patients for a medical company? Definitely customer service, 99% of which had to do with handling extremely irate people. Those who work in retail of any sort? Clearly customer service. Even office politics can fall under this realm since you may interact with the public or complete tasks to a supervisor’s satisfaction.
But when you take it to the lowest common denominator, “customer service” really boils down to basic human decency. How people in a civilized society treat one another in a non-family setting. And as far as I’m concerned, customer service is a two-way street.
Is it your job to gracefully handle another person’s issue or concern? Yes. But is it your job to charmingly deal with an asshat with attitude? No. No, it’s not. Because in that scenario, one half of the equation has dropped the ball.
It’s very simple, really. We all started off in the same place, learning (as one of my favorite bloggers puts it) that we are not “special snowflakes.”
The more I talk with people I know who deal with the public in any way, shape, or form, the more I’m beginning to believe we need a reminder poster. Lots of people seem to have forgotten many of the most basic lessons learned in their kindergarten class, the lessons that were supposed to help them become considerate human beings who didn’t get their asses kicked at recess.
It seems like there’s an awful lot of people who could use a good ass-kicking on the playground these days.
So I thought it might be time for someone to design a sign for adults, something that could be posted in places where people seem to be forgetting their basic life skills. Something a little like this:
Simple. Straight forward. Non-negotiable. Because no one should have to put up with asshats.
If the lessons from kindergarten didn’t stick, maybe some adult ones would.