Umm, is everyone okay? Because I’m starting to think that society as a whole is losing their grip. There are signs everywhere, like literal signs in my Kansas hometown, the bastion of Midwest friendly, asking/pleading with people to behave like human beings with some patience and manners.
From McDonald’s to my favorite fast casual restaurant, signs, some on computer paper taped to the drive thru menu, and others located on the counter where you order your food, are begging people to “have patience.” One sign even reminded customers that their employees are “humans not robots” and for customers to “not yell and degrade the staff.”
What is going on? Back in July I wrote about people being huge grumps, but I didn’t think three months later we would be at a place where retail businesses would have to post signage urging people to not be complete a-holes.
I’m not saying I’m Susie Sunshine every time I leave my house to interact with humanity, but I try not to be an arrogant idiot. I realize that patience is a lost art but, come on, that’s why you have an iPhone. It’s your pacifier. Your binky to help you make it through having to wait your turn.
Unfortunately, last week I was standing in line with someone who chose not to use their smartphone to distract them from having to, gasp, wait in line for their lunch. Instead, they started grousing at me. I got an earful about why it was taking so long to order.
This guy started with blaming “Biden bucks” for “killing the workforce” and finished with a Covid vaccine conspiracy theory so inane and convoluted that I was exceedingly thankful I was wearing a mask.
When he got to the counter, he was rude to the point of being cruel. I wanted to say something, but I knew if I did it would just aggressively escalate the situation. So, I made eye contact with the young woman waiting on him and rolled my eyes while shaking my head. I wanted her to know I was sorry she was having to deal with this cretin .
What I wished I could do, besides deck the jerk, was tell him he was the problem. That one of the reasons turnover in retail jobs, especially restaurants, is so high is because people are tired of being subjected to this level of hostility day in and day out.
I had one barbeque restaurant employee tell me that she gets “cussed out 15 to 20 times a day” by customers just because they’re angry about the slow line. “It’s like people think we’re taking breaks or something? We’re not. We’re working as fast as we can.”
Which brings to me this question – what’s making everyone so impatient? Or less patient than we used to be? Did the pandemic cause us to lose all of our social graces? Do we have a clock ticking in our brain telling us to hurry, hurry because life is short? Thus, giving some people a reason to justify being truly horrible when their demands aren’t being met in what they think is a timely fashion?
I’m just confused because I thought the reverse would be true. That there would be gratitude for what we have because we had lost so much. But it doesn’t seem to be working out that way. Instead, the pandemic seems to have brought out the worst in a whole lot of people.
I hope this is just a blip in the human experience because living in a world where mean is the new normal doesn’t sound like much of a life.