Places are understaffed: be nicer to the ones that show

by Jordan Green

Businesses everywhere are understaffed, and employees are underappreciated – especially those in service-related jobs.

Ever since our economy reopened, businesses across the nation have been short on help. The reasons why are plentiful but, for our purposes, irrelevant.

Today, I'm not writing about the people who haven't reentered the workforce. I'm talking about the people who have gone back to work. The people grilling cheeseburgers, selling clothes and answering phones when we call to get help solving an issue.

And sadly, I've seen all too many customers of late let their attitudes create issues for the hard-working folks we interact with at the places with which we do business.

Customers seem to have gotten snippier and shorter with fast-food workers. Drive-thru lines have grown longer, and wait times have increased.

But that's not the fault of the people inside, many of whom are on their feet for hours at a time. They're doing work that many folks wouldn't or couldn't do, but that needs to be done. They take orders from grouchy customers all day long who complain when they get the wrong sauce on a burger they might not even finish eating. How sad is that?

Retail workers are in a similar situation. They field negative remarks from customers all day who demand help instantly and become angry when the store they're shopping at doesn't have the perfect products for them. But it's not the worker’s fault.

We ought to have a little more sympathy for people working in call centers, too. Yes, we're often frustrated ourselves when we call a hotline to get help fixing our computers or placing an order, but we're not making anyone's day better by raising our voices or saying something unkind.

These are just a few of the occupations where workers have to deal with the public constantly. Our gas station workers, custodians, secretaries … the list goes on.

I'm writing this today because I've seen all of the above instances played out far too often in the last few weeks. And it's time someone told customers to knock off the attitude and be thankful that anyone showed up to work.

The pandemic forever changed the way our economy functions, and the debate over how extended unemployment benefits have affected our recovery will continue. But we ought to be appreciative of and respectful toward the people who show up to serve us.

I've made a point lately to say “please” and “thank you” to staff members more often whenever I'm at a grocery store or restaurant. It's a simple act of kindness that costs nothing, but it can have a priceless impact on someone else's day. (I think that's just a good rule of thumb anyway. But back to the point.)

The moral of this story is simple, and I'll not use more words than necessary to convey it: Be nicer to the people who show up these days – even when they get your order wrong, even when they don't have what you need and even if they themselves aren't in the best mood.

Life's tough for everyone. Let's all do our part to make the days a little bit brighter – and thank the people behind the counter with a smile.