By: Erin Rose Hennessy
Respect. It goes a long way.
I’ve been the recipient of some pretty nasty cases of disrespect lately – from adults!
This afternoon, I got a call while at work. My library, which I have frequented for over twenty years and never rocked the boat ever, found some random water damage on a book I had returned. They were putting a block on my account and needed me to settle the balance. While I was happy to pay for the damage, they were incredibly rude about it. There was a vague feeling that I was being treated like one of the criminals on Orange is the New Black. In their eyes, I had done something terrible, and even though I went out of my way to go and settle with them, walking in the pouring rain and being an hour late for dinner, that didn’t seem to matter to them at all. There was absolutely no sense that I was a valued customer at all. I was just another troublemaker, no matter that this was the first issue that had arisen in twenty years and was an honest mistake. I left feeling like the enjoyable experiences, the support I had shown, meant absolutely nothing to them. I felt completely disrespected.
Respect is a common human decency, at least in my mind. I was taught from a very young age to respect others, especially my parents and my elders. One of my dad’s sayings when I was young was: “You don’t have to like everyone, but you have to love them.” Confusing at first, right? It started making sense when I got older. We aren’t always going to agree with everyone we meet. Some people may do things that astound, appall, and dismay us. But, they still deserve the basic human decency of kindness, love, and respect.
I try my hardest in my daily travels to treat everyone with respect. I guide my young students in the basics of respecting themselves, their friends, and their environment. I may make mistakes here and there, but I truly try to keep the peace and make sure everyone feels like they matter and their opinions matter. I may not agree with said opinions, but they get to have them.
The customer service representative that I dealt with today may have been having a bad day. She may have been tired of dealing with degenerate library book vandals. Whatever her reasons, she was very rude to me and absolutely disrespected me. Normally, I wouldn’t say anything. But, I’m working on something new. Self respect.
“Just so you kmow, I was a little disappointed in the customer service today.”
It took a lot for me to say that, but I felt better afterwards. I finished my transaction, squared away my account, and left. I won’t be returning for awhile.
Respect. Learn it. Practice it. Teach it.