I realized this week that when I switched jobs, I didn't necessarily go from one type of job to different type. I pretty much am doing the same thing minus being face to face with customers. Now I get to listen to their gripes over a phone and without serving them a beer. I admit. It's a nice to change to not have to hide my facial expressions when someone is being ridiculous to me. I mean I don't know how great I was at holding back my look of annoyance at a customer who was asking for 12 ramekins of ranch but whatever. At least now when they are yelling about at things I can't control I can roll my eyes freely. With the holiday season upon us and watching at least 4 Netflix originals this week, I started thinking about how much more horrible people can be during the holiday season. I know. You are thinking I am just being rude now but am I? I know people who have never worked a day in a restaurant or in a customer service based job think I'm just being, well, an asshole but hear me out. We all get so wrapped up in getting the perfect presents for our loved ones, in placing the best decorations in our neighborhoods, in baking the best fruit cake that we forget that the whole reason for the season is supposed to be celebrating each other. We get so angry at the hostess because she hasn't sat (our party of 15 that just walked in the door without a heads up) immediately. We get so angry at the person at the other side of that counter because they didn't give us a discount we didn't deserve (but feel entitled to it anyway). Guys, he doesn't have any control over it in the first place. We are so snappy to the person on the other side of the phone who is trying to help us (but think it's OK to yell at them for five minutes about a box UPS smashed). Guys, it's the holiday season, not open season to be nasty.
A word like holiday is a scary word for service industry people to hear. While most get a couple of paid days off to spend with their family, people who work in this industry? Yeah, that means they work a few extra days so that the family that you're enjoying get to come and sit at their table while missing time with their own. It means that while you are making your last minute trip to the grocery store a person is standing behind that register for you. It means that the person you call for customer service is sitting at a desk on a phone and not enjoying time sitting at a dinner table with their own. And I know it is the nature of the beast. I get it. I've worked in this industry in whatever form I found myself in for over two decades. I understand (like everybody who works in customer service gets) that we choose to be in this field... but it can be so much more unrewarding during the holidays. For every wonderful person who walks through those doors or every five people on the end of that line, there are the people who make you want to pull out your hair. Sure, they are always there but it is as if the holidays seem to amplify the nasty rather then mute it. I was at work the other day and a gentleman was on the other line. He spent five minutes literally telling me that it was my fault his product came the way it came, that it looked like it was packaged from K-Mart, that I should do something about the quality I personally was putting out there. Which made me have a flashback to standing behind that bar and listening to the woman scream at me that it was my fault her food was taking more than an hour and a half. I think when we get swept away in this "holiday spirit" we start to forget that the people standing in front of us really have very little control of your grievance. It is not my fault that UPS damaged a package or that some guy in production put the wrong sticker on your plastic. It is not my fault that the kitchen got backed up or that the place is so full that it's turned to a big ball of uncontrollable chaos. And honestly at the end of the day I want your dinner or your canvas or your grocery list to be perfect. I want your holiday to be the best holiday it can possibly be. If for nothing else, for people to not treat each other so harshly.
I wish I honestly didn't want to write this blog today. I wish we would just remember that we're all human, fighting our own battles, trying to figure our way through our own journeys. I wish I didn't have to remind people to treat each other with kindness especially during the holidays. And I wish people would understand that when a server or a cashier or customer service person on a phone get irritated that you are probably the millionth person that told them they sucked that day. It's not that we don't like people but it becomes a harder to pill to swallow every time we get the brunt of anger that really has nothing to do with us. There were times when I would be behind that bar and my hands would clench into fists under the counter because someone was angry at a price of a beer I didn't make and then demand that it was free. Why? Because it is so much easier to be cruel to the person in front of you whose job is deemed less important. I always find some comfort in that though. For the people who complain and turn nasty, the reality is they would never be able to do what you do, not one. I can take solace in my ability to tolerate, to rise above someone else's cruelty... but that doesn't mean it is justified. The point of the holidays is to honestly enjoy each other. It is to give someone else something as simple as a smile, to say thank you for being a part of this world, all of us. I understand you want the most perfect everything but is that perfection worth someone's tears? Just remember one thing this holiday season. One thing. The people who are helping you are people, too. Every one of them whether it be the server hustling to bring you drinks, the gentleman behind that register, that woman on the phone answering your question. Every one of them, all of us.