There’s been a rash of rudeness lately. Here’s how we can stop it.

two brown fox

Why are some people so rude to people who serve?

There are many possibilities here but here are a couple that immediately come to mind:

  1. People have a lot going on in their lives that no one knows, and it all comes to a head and they blow their top.
  2. People think service is beneath them and thus so are the people who deliver it.

The first issue, while still not something that makes bad behavior acceptable, is at least forgivable. We all have pressures, problems, worries, and irritations in our lives that cause us to act out and be jerks at times.

For example, this summer, I lost my temper with a car repair place because they misquoted the price and charged me more. They gave a million excuses and refused to admit any error. I had just walked there in high heat (my wife had the other car), was under some time pressure, had just had a difficult conversation on another matter, and the repair-price disagreement snapped what was left of my patience. Now, I will admit I did not act my best, but I did go back and apologize.  

We all have these times. We all have iceberg-like problems and issues that no one can see. It doesn’t make it right to be uncivil, but it is human. The key is to acknowledge our wrong and make amends.

Now to problem number two, this one is less forgivable. “People who serve are lesser people than me so I can treat them however I like; besides, I am paying for the privilege.”

Okay, there’s a lot of ill to unpack here.

People who serve are NOT lesser than anyone. People who serve are not “in servitude,” they are being “of service.” Being “in servitude” is about being under someone’s control and no one should feel like they are under someone’s control, not to mention that no one should want to have others under their control, that’s the stuff of slavery. By contrast, being “of service” is about bringing value. When someone is of service to you, they are delivering something you want or need whether it’s food in a restaurant or great returns on an investment. People who serve are helping you with things you don’t want to do, don’t know how to do, or simply don’t have access to. That is worth something and paying for it is just; it certainly doesn’t give anyone a right to be unkind and uncivil, in fact, it should engender quite the opposite, appreciation and humility.

Being rude is not okay. Whether it’s because you’ve got things on your mind or are troubled, everyone of us has challenges and deserve simple consideration. In addition, no one is so important or better than another as to feel entitled to mistreat people.

Those who serve are worthy of respect, they are humans who have icebergs full of problems just like you. People who serve are not lowly servants, they are deliverers of value and do work you can’t or don’t want to do.

Next time you feel the need to rant, consider peoples’ very human icebergs that challenge them as much as yours does you. And remember that those who serve are professionals doing work that adds value to your life. Civility begins with you, start today.

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