174 - “It doesn't cost anything to be polite to people”
Tales from the end of the morning shift...
I’m out walking and bump into “Jay”, a guy I know that works in a local supermarket. He and his wife are good people, dealing with problems, as good people always seem to be for some reason. He’s a nice, quiet guy with a good sense of humour and I always like catching up with him on the rare occasions I see him.
We walk a ways and compare news. He pauses and starts to tell me that he's had trouble at the supermarket.
I must admit that I feel amused sometimes that people want to talk to me when they’ve had a “certain type” of problem as though to unload but never ask me about what I do. I guess it’s how plumbers feel - once in a while, you’re useful to know but no one wants to ask about unblocking toilets etc, so I guess it makes sense.
Time: Weekday, approx. 3pm.
Jay has finished his shift. He's still in uniform and shopping for himself. He joins the queue.
A late 50's male pushes in front of a woman just in front of Jay – this pisses him off but he says nothing.
They filter into the self service check out.
The man is buying alcohol and the scanner calls to age verify the purchase.
Female staff member goes to help but the guy starts with:
“I don't need my fuckin’ age checked!”
“Bags should be free!”
Basically, everything’s a problem for the guy including getting help.
At this point, James states to him -
“It doesn't cost anything to be polite to people”.
The guy is immediately in his face.
Wants to fight
Wants to go outside
He stinks of drink.
Lots of shouting, probably not anything back from Jay who's a quiet guy.
Jay seems rattled by the experience and shocked that someone would act that way.
From experience it seems that older pissed guys like “Supermarket man” don't want to be told anything by anyone. As soon as you do, it's attitude and threats. Literally two a penny in commercial/ retail work.
They ask for it but they don't attack. Hot air.
They goad to provoke.
Best approach is to stay safe, say little, make out that they’re right and manage the other people away from them.
This will please their ego.
Don't show fear.
Don't engage them in reasoning.
They'll fizzle out and leave.
If they don't, in this setting, just call cops.
If they tick the boxes for justifiable force then that’s a different story unfolding…
Best of all though, is not getting involved unless you’re open to the idea of whatever comes next because saying stuff like Jay did here is a subconscious payback for the long, crap day you’ve just had and especially if still in uniform, this is not the best idea…
Yes, being polite is, indeed, free.
Pointing it out can have a price.
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It’s really hard for good people to stand by in these circumstances, I guess. I suppose on some level we believe that the person who is being obnoxious doesn’t realise it, and will benefit from having it pointed out to them, although they must already know they are taking out their frustrations inappropriately, and are not going to welcome feedback on their behaviour! Great advice on how to handle it, thank you for that.