Monday, December 05, 2016

Be kind to all ~ my column from Sunday's paper

Thanksgiving has evolved through the years for the Watson household. Looking back, celebrating this special holiday with our parents were some of the best memories of my life. But when they passed on, things changed for us. We now make Thanksgiving Dinner (lunch) for family and an eclectic collection of friends that have no other place to go on Thanksgiving.

Everyone I know loves this holiday and the recent trend of making Thanksgiving just another shopping day is disturbing. We decided never to shop on Thanksgiving or the day after. I don’t care that I can get a great deal on a flat-screen television. Everyone deserves time with family on Thanksgiving.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving, we went to Walmart for a few items. The woman who checked us out looked frazzled. The place had been a madhouse over the holidays, and she’d had her quota of rude customer and people who treated her poorly. We’ve been through her line several times, and she’s usually upbeat and smiling. On this visit, she looked raw and tired.

On the way home, Jilda was somber. She was in retail for over 20 years, working every Black Friday and Christmas Eve. It was rare that customers were rude to her back then, but it happened. I’m not sure why some people think that spending a few dollars at a place of business gives them the right to treat those who work there like chattel.

I witnessed this in October standing in line at a local department store. We were behind a man who was buying a shirt, and while we only heard bits and pieces of the conversation, the look on the young sales clerk’s face was telling. When the man finished, he stormed off. I’m guessing he was looking for someone else to abuse. When we stepped up to the counter, the young girl, who was new on the job, had tears in her eyes.

We spoke to her kindly, and within a few moments, she looked as if a weight lifted from her brow. I made a few observations about the abuser and probable causes for his behavior. By the time we left, she was smiling.

Fast forward to this past Wednesday. I scheduled a meeting for 10 a.m. and ordered a deli tray from Walmart. I placed the order a few days before, and without thinking it through, I told them I’d pick it up at 9 a.m. When I arrived at the store an hour early, I hoped it would be ready. It wasn’t. A young woman who’d never prepared a deli tray before was working on it. I looked at my watch and realized that if I didn’t get the tray soon, I’d be late for my meeting.

The alpha male voice which originates in a dark part of my brain kept firing off suggestions for snippy things to say. “Snort! Tap your foot! Look annoyed! Ask her if she plans to finish that tray today!”

Then the wiser voice, asked a simple question, “Who’s at fault here? Did you tell them you’d pick it up at 9 a.m.?” I took a deep breath and smiled at myself. I watched the young woman put the tray together with care. Finishing the job, she smiled as she sat the tray on the counter. “It looks nice, don’t it?” I told her it did and that I was going to recommend that her boss double her salary. She beamed, and I did too.

Maybe we should celebrate Thanksgiving daily.


  1. Thank you. Kindness never goes astray, and I am pretty sure it is catching. I hope it is.

  2. Kindness grows wherever it is seeded. You're a kind man.

  3. I do like your attitude and I do celebrate Thanksgiving everyday. I try to always remember that while it's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice.

  4. Thanks my friend, I have been working on a blog entry about a sweet girl and her mom. I could not find the right word, now I have it, simply 'BEING KIND'. I loved this entry, we try todo the same smooth feathers of cashiers who have been 'missed treated' by a scrooge.

  5. I like to talk with the help at stores, maybe make a little joke or compliment them in some way. I think I'm being nice and charming, my wife tells me I'm an obnoxious old flirt. Either way, I ain't changin.

  6. I worked retail for many years and the stress is unbelievable, especially if you work on commission or have unrealistic quotas like I did.

  7. I also worked in retail. The holidays and bad weather were the worst. Everybody "had" to shop then. They felt that the crowds and long lines gave them license to be rude to all around them. I appreciate the kindness shown in both the examples you mentioned. If people would think about it they would realize that the lines move faster when people are nice and don't cause more problems. Your post is a public service and I thank you.

  8. I pass a lot of rude people in departments stores. I bite my tongue. You never know their story. Obviously they do not know how to be kind and its our place to show them.

  9. Anonymous1:19 PM

    You're a nice person, Rick!! (I try to be one, too.)

  10. Well done. Very well done, and well written. God bless you.


  11. What a great message, Rick! It hurts my heart when I see/hear guests berating our front desk agents over something that isn't even in their wheelhouse. I used to think ill manners were only bred in Big Cities. Please, don't go bursting my bubble? :)

    PS - I really hope your 'deli girl' happened to read your column!

  12. One will never regret kindness, but will regret being mean. You made a difference in those lives.

  13. Yeah if more people took a moment and thought who is at fault before having a tantrum over something that is in fact their fault life would be nicer. I try to always be kind

  14. I loved reading this Rick, I worked in retail for years... it never ceased to amaze me how mean some customers can be... unfortunately people are even more rude on the phones as they feel they have anonymity... I work hard to be be kind and upbeat with each of my clients... I have turned their attitude by not mirroring them... it can be exhausting... being kind is the best attitude xox


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