A few years ago I spent six months in between positions in higher education working in retail hospitality: a cafe in a busy mall. I wrote this reflection in the midst of that experience. Each Christmas I am reminded by the lessons buried deep within muscle memory from that time.
Working with ‘the public’ for the last four or five months, one pervasive attitude has struck me as being detrimental to our communities growing and thriving. It’s something that I don’t see the church as being immune from either and some of the people I’ve come across in the ‘public sphere’ who have made it known they are Christian or people of faith have actually been the worst offenders in perpetuating this attitude. What am I referring to?
The belief that each of us is special.
And hang on a second, before you get all cranky with me…..bless your cotton socks, you are special. Your momma probably thinks so, and a good thing too. Each of us is most certainly made in the image of God. What I mean is an attitude that this specialness entitles you, privileges you, guarantees you the right to treat those who are serving you in a hospitality or commercial context like they are less than you.
This culture that you are always right as the customer and that you are entitled to treat people badly perpetuates a certain kind of selfishness and self-centredness that is fundamentally detrimental to the civility of our communities.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t ask for what you would like, but do so with politeness. Be kind!
Those serving you in hospitality or retail cannot read your mind. They often want to give you exactly what you want – but when the sign says “closed” asking to be served anyway because you only want x…. Or requesting to pay by eftpos or visa or amex when there’s a sign which says ‘cash only’ is just a fool’s errand.
Speaking of which, I just want should not be part of your vocabulary. Please teach your children this!
I know it’s an interesting and perhaps controversial twist, but let’s address this matter more generally: though we are all created by God, you are not given a pass to be rude or demanding. Let’s be a little kinder to each other. This also, heaven forbid, applies in the way we rebuke or ‘speak truth’ to each other. Even if you are a Christian leader.
I am not the exception.
You are not the exception.
Speaker. Reader. Thinker. Writer. Traveler. Advocate
Anna Blanch Rabe, founder of Anna Blanch Rabe & Associates, has been working with Social Enterprises, socially-responsible businesses, educational institutions, and non-profit organizations since 2006 to develop and effectively execute strategic, digital, and narrative initiatives to gain exposure, develop community capacity, attract talent, and reach new customers. Anna is an Australian-born speaker, writer and advocate. Connect with Anna on Academia.edu, Linked In, Instagram, facebook page, & Twitter.