boon-dog-gle: (noun) work of little or no value done merely to keep or look busy.
free: (adjective) provided without, or not subject to, a charge or payment.

3/14/08

the rudest thing ever...

...okay, maybe not, but this totally bugs me.

If you are in some kind of store or restaurant or any place where you are at the cash register, make sure you finish your cell-phone conversation before beginning your transaction with the cashier. It is so rude to be talking on your cell phone to someone in some other place when you have an actual human being right in front of you trying to do something for you.

In my job at the Covenant Seminary Bookstore I'm the one that rings out 90%+ of our customers. I'd say that it happens a couple of times a week that a customer is having a conversation and expects me to take care of his transaction while he either completely ignores me or communicates actual annoyance at my presence. Those times are really the only times that I don't like my job. In a weird way I can't explain, I feel degraded and diminished by such treatment. My mind tells me to just get over it, but there is something about such that situation that makes me feel totally crummy.

It's not that I want the people to talk to me instead of whoever they are on the phone with. In fact, most of the time, I don't want them to talk to me. But I do want to feel free to tell them the cost of their books and ask them the usual questions like whether they found everything they were looking for and whether they want a bag. I don't even mind if they talk on their phones as they walk around the store. That doesn't bother me at all either. But it would be nice to have my existence and attempt to provide a service acknowledged. My response lately has been to go through with the reaction with as little communication as possible, which means I don't make eye contact and I don't say anything, even the cost or goodbye when they leave. I don't know or really care whether that's a good response, but I'm not going to insist that people pay attention to me.

Except for right now. You should pay attention to the people that are providing you with service. Talk on your phone later.

3 comments:

Steve said...

Same thing happens at the library. We get the people on cellphones, and also sometimes the person will see someone they know and get into an in-person conversation, which they'll continue completely completely oblivious to the transaction the library staff-person is trying to carry out.

Agkyra said...

I'm glad you point this out. The problem is that all of us are natively inconsiderate and our society has fewer and fewer rules to help us keep in line, and just as few people bothering to learn them. I'm sure your bookstore customers would be contrite if they knew what kind of effect this was having on you. But you shouldn't have to chastise them. If we had a more structured society, everybody would learn the rules, and most people would follow them, through social pressure. But life in 21st century America is basically a free-for-all. The best of us and the worst are supposed to be purely equal in society, so who's to tell anyone what they should or shouldn't, let alone may or may not do! What you're seeing in your bookstore is just a little petri dish sample of the germ that is destroying western civilization and will soon bring it to an end. Perhaps that sounds a bit melodramatic, but I mean it seriously and soberly.

nickg said...

Steve,
I'm glad to know I'm not the only person to find this bothersome.

Agkyra,
I don't disagree with you. I guess I was considering it more from the perspective that most of these people I'm dealing with (and Steve too) are professing Christians, many of whom are preparing to be pastors or other types of ministry leaders. Most of them are also being specifically trained to be considerate of the image of God in all people and to treat all people with respect. I wonder how these ambassadors of the gospel are treating others who provide them with a service. I wonder if they realize that they really are bearing a witness to Christ (for better or worse) in everything they do.

I know I didn't really spell any of that out in the original post. But that's what was going through my mind.

I'm also quite aware that I fail in countless ways of my own to respect/love my neighbor.

But seriously, people, the phone call can wait 30 seconds.

G.K. Chesterton...

"The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people."