You know those moments ….while you’re working at the McDonald’s or local motel, and you look tired and a guest, client or customer notices…and thanks you for your hard work. Deep down, you don’t want this person to think you are a broke ass individual working for not much more than minimum wage, because you are so much more than that! I mean they look at you and see a lobby girl all in black, overworked and tired – but she rocks at her job. They look at you and see a fast food clerk, sweating and trying not to lean but remain standing straight as your feet kill you…and you greet them with nothing but a smile. You rock at your dead end job, you shine within it, and treat others well…that is what they see.
Have you ever humanized yourself to them? … that’s what I am getting at here. You want them to realize, hello, I’m so much more than a short, chubby girl in a sweaty uniform here to serve you. I’m so much more than the lady I am while flipping hamburgers.
Have you ever thought of saying to them:
‘I have a master’s degree, I’m probably smarter than you and your three children, though I sit on sixty thousand dollars of debt.’
‘I am a single mom of two, they are my life, and I do everything I can for them and my sick mother that lives with me. They are my world and my light.’
‘I come from a family of wealth, but I choose to work….while attending school.’
‘I work twice as many hours and twice as hard as rich assholes like you, and at the end of the day I am still serving you.’
‘My husband is in prison, so I work three jobs. I am sorry you feel the need to pat me on the back and shrug your shoulders like you’re better than me – because I am a woman of color, because I am a female and a service worker – I feel sorry for people like you.’
‘Thanks for all your life stories. My life story is told by the cracks and scars of my hands…take your coffee and leave.’
We clearly can’t/won’t state these things, as it would ruin our image. Because despite the scenarios of daily lives listed above, we still remain the hot waitress, the cute, flirty girl that makes your coffee, the good looking bus driver that takes you to work each day. However, all this and more makes many reasons why one should appreciate the customer service and front-line service they receive each day. People who work in these service industries truly make the world go around, and they don’t want to deal with rude or belittling assholes – but they do! They also don’t want to be treated like they have gold up their ass, for what they do – because at the end of the day, that too, is condescending. Just appreciate, would you?
If you are one of these people, I am sure you can relate, and know how important you are to the everyday occurrences in your community. And for everyone else, show respect and remember to say thank you, maybe actually say hi to your grocery clerk rather than stare down at your phone the whole time they bag your food. You expect they’ll bag your food whether or not you say hi to them, or that it’s only proper they greet you first. At the end of the day, they kind of expect the same courtesy – that just maybe you’ll stop screening Porktober Festival and tweeting the latest minion picture. It would only seem human to switch off your phone and greet the kind, young man bagging your groceries, for example.
As service workers, sure we may not be able to reveal ourselves ‘naked’ to the public, but we sure can do the most important thing by being ourselves, and continuing to go the extra mile – knowing how much of a difference we make in daily lives. And as public, while we may wonder about the deep details and lives of many of these individuals we often encounter, they will remain blind to us, outside of uniform… But we must remember there is another side to them, an outside, impacting life. We must remember this in order to humanize them away from just the girl that makes your extra sweet soy late each day. Then, it’s nothing to smile at them, like you would a friend, thank them, as you would your parents, pray for them, as you would your children. Then, you’ve done well.
Originally Printed: October, 5th, 2015