I work in the average teenage job, cashiering at a store up the road from my house, and now I am one of the many cogs in the machine that we call corporate America and capitalism. Unlike many of my coworkers, many teenagers, or many people, for that matter, I like my job: it pays me what I need for this point of my life, I get the hours I want, it’s relatively flexible, and most importantly (to me, anyway), I really like my coworkers. But there is one thing that will always bother me.
Here in America, we bow down to the mighty dollar. We are its slave. Everything revolves around making that extra buck- or making any buck at all. And through it all, we as a nation are doing a huge societal disservice. We are sacrificing humanity for a rolled up wad of dough.
I approached her order just like I approached every other order that day (and every other day in nearly a year at my job). I asked if she’d found everything okay. I asked her if she had her Rewards Card with her to take advantage of this week’s savings. I politely inquired whether she would prefer paper or plastic bags for her items today. And as my boss had recently reminded me, I scanned several of her items, bagged them, and repeated. I did not turn on my belt, sending her items whooshing to the end of it to imply that she should bag them herself. I did not make a big deal about the fact that I had no one to help me with her order. But when she started taking the bags and filling them herself, that was a sign to me that she was okay with taking care of that part of the transaction.
Apparently, that was not the case, for after she paid for her items, she proceeded to berate me, saying, “I work a full-time job, and then I come here and have to bag things myself! How absolutely disgusting!” That was the gist of it anyway- I can’t remember it all. I was absolutely mortified. And to this day I don’t know what I could have done to prevent it. I just stood there flabbergasted and stammering an apology until she huffed out and the lady behind her gave me a kind smile and said with the genuineness of a saint, “I am so sorry that you had to deal with that. That was so rude. No one should ever be treated like that.”
And that is the reason that that day will stick with me for the rest of my life and always bother me. Because I was the employee and that angry woman was the customer, I could not say anything. Nothing at all. I just had to stand there and take it even though that is completely wrong. Because the customer is always right. Right?
Does anyone see what is wrong with this picture?
How are we teaching people to respect themselves and others?
Allowing customers to treat people in the service industry (although, admittedly, I most commonly see this issue with waiters and cashiers) in such a degrading manner squashes humanity. How? Well, 1) It tells the worker that they are not only below the customer, but not worthy of respect and 2) It tells the customer that they are allowed to behave however poorly they want because they will not be held accountable for their actions. Doesn’t seem fair to me.
I don’t care if you’re fifty years older than me or if you’ve been shopping at my store for twenty years. I am a human being too, and therefore, I have the same rights as you do. And that includes standing up for myself when I am not being treated right. If I have the right to stand up to my boss, I have the right to stand up to a customer any day.
We need to stop selling our souls to the Dollar. Human lives and human dignity are worth way more than the “almighty dollar.”