This is a word that is often used to describe people in the workforce and the manner in which they deal with the public. Unfortunately I don’t think it’s a word that can be used as often today as it once was. My father was in a store a number of years ago and was asking a young female clerk for assistance. The 20 something child hopped over to my father with a big smile and said “what’s your name?” At the time my father would have been in his mid to late 70s. He was a distinguished man always well dressed and well-groomed. He replied to this individual with the comment “My name is Mr. Read.” Unfortunately this impertinent sales clerk didn’t get the hint. She laughingly asked for his first name. He replied: “Mister”.
When my father came home and told us the story we laughed. It was a silly story at the time but now it is becoming indicative of the lack of professionalism that exists in the world. I was in a donut shop not that long ago and I had an interesting incident. There were three people behind the counter. One was a gentleman dealing with a customer and the others were two young ladies who just looked like they were standing around admiring the wall paper. I couldn’t see the products because the counter was in the way so I asked if they had a list of the choices. The two young women looked at me as if I had three heads (I don’t!!!) and said nothing. I asked again, they looked at each other and one told me that everything was laid out at the back for me to choose. I must admit that at this point I became convinced I was not dealing with Rhodes Scholars. I explained that I was in a wheelchair (duh!!) and that I could not see the back wall because I was sitting down (DUH!) and could not see over the counter. I asked again if they had a list. At that point I asked if they knew what a list was. I am not the most patient person I know, not even close. At that point the young man finished with a customer and handed me a list. He said it was not complete but that he would try to help. Finally, the brains of the outfit. I looked at the list and made my choices. Satisfaction.
I have to wonder if it was the chair that intimidated those two women or the fact that I asked them a question they were not prepared for. These were not small children. They were young, attractive women. I do not think of myself as intimidating but then I am also not a meek, wallflower.
More and more I’m finding that the clerks I deal with if they are over 40 treat me with respect and professionalism. If they are younger than that they often tend to be living in their own world and they will condescend to assist me if absolutely necessary! I once went into a shoe store and this sweet young thing was on the phone with her, I’m assuming, girlfriend complaining about her recent boyfriend and chewing gum. She looked up when I came through the door and went back to her phone call. Am I missing something? Has the decision been made that people in wheelchairs aren’t people anymore? Cuz honey I missed that memo! If necessary I will speak up and at first politely demand assistance. Of course politeness is only the first salvo. I will get cranky.
Professionalism and common courtesy should be the way everyone is treated. Now civility and professionalism is becoming noteworthy simply because it is so rare. How unfortunate. Change is a fact of life. Evolution does not stop because we like where we are. We’re constantly evolving and changing. It is my great fear that we are de-evolving and changing for the sake of change instead of with forethought and for the greater good. How very sad.
I cannot control the manner of the clerks I deal with, I can simply treat them with the respect that I believe I am due and hope that somewhere in their teeny, tiny brains they figure it out.
My strength is the result of necessity. I will not let rampant crass indifference spoil an otherwise beautiful day. Places to go, people to see, toes to . . . oops!