We are so very often caught up in our own world that we don’t seem to realise how unfriendly, unkind, or oblivious we may be. I guess no-one is to be blamed for this – there is so much to busy ourselves with in life, every so often pre-occupied with worries of job, family and personal issues, one just didn’t always have spare time or energy to care.
I was however, in my usual overly-sensitive nature, put into deep thoughts after watching various episodes of Undercover Boss. Sensationalised, edited, whatever. Bottom-line is that we forget – we move on in life, accelerate in our career, and forget the most basic things like showing appreciation or civic-mindedness.
I realise how little we know or care about those who are behind us in our careers, or those who are in jobs less glamorous than us. Take an example for the show abovementioned. We think about how to increase sales by giving great customer service, but we forget the difficulties of our staff in living up to some unrealistic standards that are to be offered at their expense. We think about recycling and saving the environment, but we forget the toil and harsh environments we put our staff in just to achieve what claim we can offer. Of course someone out there is going to talk about society and how sacrifices are made as a normal cycle of life, survival of the fittest, the human food-chain and every other theory we can conjure or pull together. I don’t disagree. I’m just saying it’s a sad fact that we forget too soon how we were once at the bottom of the food-chain suffering all the unimaginables – and we subject others, unwittingly or not, to it after we depart from the sorry state. Now with reference to the very same show above, I noticed how a little kind gesture could make a big difference. You hear in the show about employees who love their jobs but face constraints due to long hours, undesirable conditions, or simply personal family issues. Sometimes we really aren’t asking for too much – an extra day of leave, some flexibility in work hours, a holiday maybe. When the organisation stops to listen to your needs and tries to help you in fulfilling them, you can imagine how happy the employee might be. The upsides are decent – greater loyalty to the company, higher productivity etc. It really pays to be nice sometimes..
Today as I was at a restaurant, I happened to observe some wait-staff working on lunch-hour turnover. Necessary job, most definitely, to clean the tables quickly and usher in new customers. But as I looked, I started to wonder why some customers had to make such a ferocious mess of their tables. I was appalled by the filth at a nearby table – food scraps scattered all over the table, drinks spilled across the seats, balls of rolled-up serviettes strewn around. You just made someone’s job so undesirably tough because of your uncivil behaviour.
This also got me thinking about consumers at fast-food restaurants. Where I am in this world, it almost seems a rarity that patrons at fast-food chains clear up after themselves at the end of the meal. Unbelievable! This has bugged me for years, but it doesn’t change. Cultural differences, I was told. Excuses, I believe. But of course, who am I to impose my beliefs on others. I just don’t see why we can’t return our trays on our own and dispose of the waste along the way. I watched an elderly lady clear the tables around me and as I walked to the waste-bin to return the tray, she broke into a smile and exclaimed, “You’re the first today, thank you very much. See you again!” I laughed too, and thanked her as she gave the table a quick wipe.
Make someone else’s job less distasteful – you might be a boss to hundreds of employees, you might be yet another shopper at the mall, you might even be one of the million commuters at the railway station. Whoever you are, wherever you might be, it works well to smile, nod and share a word of thanks.