Society rewards bad behavior

Originally, this column was going to be about peoples’ lack of sympathy on the Internet. For instance, Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney recently changed his Twitter account name to make fun of Justin Bieber and later received harsh insults and even a few threats here and there.

But then I read another news story about an allegedly drunk man who slapped a toddler on an airplane. It made me wonder: Why on earth do people think they can get away with acting as if the world centers around them?

Admittedly, the man who slapped the child lost his job. That doesn’t mean consequences like that are the norm. Sites such as Not Always Right compile stories of bad customers. In some cases these customers are rewarded for their bad behavior. The very idea that it’s fine for them to act disrespectfully belies the fact that they do manage to win compensation.

I work at Starbucks on Mill Avenue. I love my job, but because we are located in the middle of a bar district with a large homeless population, we have constant problems. I’m not lying when I say I enjoy working there — it gives me plenty of stories, and I have some regulars that can make my day just by coming to the store. But among the drunks and drug users, we also get your garden-variety rude and inconsiderate patrons.

I had one woman insist we break health code because she “paid $8″ for her drink, and so we were required to make it exactly how she wanted it.

I’ve caught a man pleasuring himself in our lobby. People have gone “Hulk Smash” in our men’s restroom and broken our toilet paper dispenser — to say nothing of purposefully clogging the toilets. I even had one customer come in and demand a free drink simply because he’s “a regular.”

What escapes me is why people feel the need to be so rude? I’ve had days at work where I’ve thanked customers for being polite. I’ve even been on the receiving end of it, whether through verbal acknowledgement or an employee sneaking me an extra bit of food, simply for being my usual congenial self.

Why?

I understand that adversity is necessary to enjoy the good times. Everyone has a bad day once in a while and rudeness is a fact of life. Even then, there’s a difference between a bad mood and a rude, entitled or just plain mean-spirited person.

Be aware of the people around you. Whether they’re in food service, retail or customer service, workers are people, too. Even if you’re in a bad mood, be polite. Let the best parts of you show. It’ll make every day a little better.

Let’s show the world that we can be better than they think.

 

Reach the columnist at baorteg1@asu.edu or follow him at @BrandoBoySP

 

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