While on the East Coast last month, our family was amazed at the rudeness of many folks we came into contact with.
The signs above the Budget car rental counter all said "Closed," and the agent treated us as an imposition. It was only 4:30 in the afternoon, but he looked half-asleep. We could barely hear or understand him. Another couple asked him a question and got the same response.
Others, too, treated us with disgust. A popular hamburger joint in downtown D.C. cooks up tasty food, but again, the employee behind the counter couldn't hide his impatience when we, as first-time customers, asked about an item on the menu.
We could blame it on their age, their ethnicity, the geographic locale or even the weather. But it's not an East Coast thing. It's a human thing.
My husband rarely goes shopping. Last week he went to the Merced Mall to buy a pair of shoes: Florsheims with a $70 price tag. The salesgirl got lost in the back, and after finding her way out, by the look on her face it was too much to ask about a second pair in size 8. Maybe she'd been hired for the holidays and was still learning her way around the stockroom.
But it's her job to find the right shoes for customers, and he only wanted to try on two pairs.
He left the mall, came home and bought a pair online.
A few days later I was at Costco. Actually, I was in the parking lot. Once again a motorist insisted on blocking traffic with the blinkers on while he waited for another shopper to push the cart up to a vehicle, pull out her keys to open the doors and then unload a cart full of groceries into the vehicle. All the while, traffic in that row had come to a complete standstill.
Isn't it against the law to block traffic unnecessarily? Does this happen at other stores, too, or only at Costco? (This wasn't the first time I've sat there waiting for a parking spot being coveted by a driver one, two or three cars ahead of me.)
The driver behind me got tired of waiting, so he backed up and left. Then I put my car in reverse and did the same. It was a Saturday afternoon, and empty parking spaces were a little farther from the doors.
I didn't mind that. Walking is actually good for us, and will help us lose those extra holiday pounds.
It's the complete disregard for others (and, dare I say, laziness?) that bothers me. It isn't Costco's fault, but after looking at my watch, I drove away to do my shopping elsewhere. A $70 sale was lost to another store that week.
When younger employees of a local pizza restaurant can't get time off for the county fair, they take time off anyway by not showing up for work -- losing their job in the process and leaving fellow employees in the lurch. If a job is worth doing and jobs are hard to come by, isn't it still worth doing well?
In all fairness, several of the Sacramento airport employees were friendly, and a couple of Penney's sales clerks were more than helpful when I had questions about sizes and colors and prices before and after Christmas. Thank you!
And out here in the boondocks, when a couple of ranchers going in opposite directions block both lanes of the road, as they stop to chat about the price of beef or catch up on local gossip, when another car comes along, one of the trucks will quickly move out of the way. Granted, when I drive off, he pulls back up alongside the other truck to finish the conversation, but at least he makes way for others and shows a little courtesy.
Debbie Croft writes about life in the foothill communities. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at her Sun-Star blog: City Girl, Country Life.