I think maybe I’ll talk about bullying today. It seems to be the hot topic in the media these days with some very sad consequences. When you hear the word bully, you immediately think about kids, but bullying isn’t exclusive to adolescents. Adults do it too. I’ve noticed it more in the shop this past year. It was discussed on CBC radio yesterday and after having several things happen to me last week I thought I would sit down and write about it. These encounters sucked the rug hooking joy right out of me, and they caused me to question why I was doing this and maybe it’s time to rethink the business to the point of closing my door. I guess I take it personally when someone treats me badly, but then I go to other businesses and witness other rude people working out their unhappiness on the world so I know I’m not alone and in a weird way, it’s consoling and puts it all into perspective.
I was in the bank the other day and an older gentleman was peeling a strip off a young teller because he didn’t think it relevant to have his debit card with him to pay his bills. She was trying to explain why the policy was in place, but he was having none of it. It struck me odd that he could be so mean over something so insignificant. He hollered that he was sick of all the rules and stood there stomping and sputtering and then he said in a very threatening, loud tone, “I’ll be back, maybe not today, but I’ll be back!” and stormed out the door. In a time when disgruntled people bring guns to work and fire into a crowd, that kind of anger is unsettling. He was older so a few smiles and eye rolls went around the room, a harmless old man letting off some steam, no biggy, but from where I was sitting it was pretty aggressive. As he left he tried to slam the mechanized door but the closure made it impossible, it was like trying to bang a carpet. Ironically, an inconsequential man creates a tempest in a teapot over a non-issue. What’s the point?
Right after that I went to the post office and stood in line while a woman kept commenting she’d have to remortgage her house to buy the stamps that came to $7.00 plus change. It was said nastily, a hit on the postal clerk as if she set the prices. The postal clerk showed no signs of emotion as her training dictates but, I wondered how many times she was subjected to ornery customers considering how many people seem to hate Canada Post; this is a conclusion I've made from the observations of 13 years of sending out parcels and from listening to my mother-in-law.
After the stamp woman had her way with the captive audience behind the counter, she turned around to face the line-up that was now four people deep and proceeded to give us a lecture on the costs of mailing and how she knew someone, who knew someone else, that sent a parcel that cost $75.00…shaking her head and finger at the postal clerk. Her words hung in the air like bad perfume. Now in all fairness, we only got half the story. Like what was in that parcel or how
much it might have weighed, maybe it was a table-saw and $75.00 was cheap. So, rudeness seems to be everywhere, maybe it’s an epidemic. Too bad there wasn’t a vaccination for it.
Maybe tough economic times are wearing our manners thin or possibly things like tweeting and texting have made us forget the proper way to converse. Whatever the reason, I feel that people are losing a bit of their social graces. Now 99.9 % of my customers are wonderful, so I hope you don’t take offense at this note… I’m just saying there are some who have lost the art of please and thank you. I was raised in a home where you respected your elders and asked for things with a
please and offered a thank-you if you got them. Now I’m not saying I’m ancient, but I
was raised in a time that practiced decent manners or you forfeited the reward.
What bothers me the most is how one bad apple spoils the bunch. All the good karma evaporates after that one hateful person infects my day. It annoys me that one small worm causes me to throw away the entire apple bag. Enough with the fruit analogies, you get my drift. I guess we are all vulnerable to negative treatment. Most of the time I’m a strong, confident and intelligent woman but unkind words shrivel me like water on a witch. I’m not proud of this and it’s something I plan to work on. In 2013, I will no longer be a victim of bullying. If I become upset, they win, so I’m going to practice the water off the back routine and if the buttons are pushed to the point of no return, then I may suggest they go elsewhere to buy their rug hooking supplies.
I won’t talk specifics but in two days three people were rude to me on a scale of 10. I thought maybe the pressure of Christmas was wearing them down. I’m under a bit of stress right now so I know what that’s like. I don’t have any shopping done or a decoration up and the tree is outside
on the ground. My personal life takes a backseat this time of year as I work to make sure others have the kits and patterns they want to see under their tree but am I rude on the phone or
with customers at the shop? Hell no, it wouldn’t even occur to me. So people, you know who you are, try to be a little kinder, to me or others that cross your path.
Maybe we suffer from delusions of grandeur. Somehow we have elevated egos, as if we matter.
Maybe Facebook, Texting and Tweeting are giving us a false sense of importance. When people read what you’ve had for breakfast and follow your every move, maybe it sets us up to stick it to the little people. And there’s trouble on the horizon, kids all want to be famous now. I watched a children’s program the other day, not on purpose, I was just finding a suitable show for the pups to watch while I was at work. Cartoons always have fun noises and exaggerated voices so I think they entertain more. Anyway, it was what I would consider a very violent show where kids were hurting one another to gain the upper hand. I didn’t watch enough to have the full story line but I wasn’t impressed. In an age when people scoff at our generation’s entertainment, like Bugs Bunny or Wiley Coyote and the Road Runner, calling it too violent and not fit for young, impressionable minds, this show seems a contradiction. When the show’s theme song began to play I couldn't believe the content. "I want to be famous, I want to be famous” was all it said, over and over and over. What kind of message does that leave our kids? But it’s true, everyone wants to be famous these days but not by hard work and paying their dues. Everything has to be instant and gratifying whether it is deserved or not.
So to get back to bullying; maybe we bully because we think we are important. The woman who just ordered wool from us was very unkind. She had ordered the wrong item and then blamed it on us, expecting instant service when there were others before her. When I chatted with her on the phone the other night I was definitely bullied. I am not stupid nor am I a child and do not need to be spoken to in such a manner, not that I would ever speak to a child that way! Bullying hurts. I was so gung-ho to work and after that conversation I drooped at the shoulders and sat in a chair questioning why in heck I am even here, probably working until midnight once again when everyone else is at home with their loved ones, possibly decorating their tree and sipping a soothing camomile tea. My stomach was in knots and my heart was pounding in my chest. I went home when I should have stayed, but I was now in a dark place and had no desire to do anything but mope.
The desire to please that kind of customer is zero but I’m in business and have to bend over backwards, but only to a point and as I get older I’m not as flexible as I used to be! So in 2013, if someone is rude without a cause, I will be very diplomatic in asking them to go elsewhere. This way I can keep all my apples in the cart, and my enthusiasm for all the good people that come into the shop, the ones who deserve a world of kindness!