Today, I didn’t have the best of experiences at work. Functioning on a major lack of sleep (over 24 hours), that no medication can seem to penetrate, my mood has been very low today and my depression is definitely winning today’s fight.
My experience at work today wasn’t anything specific and nothing one wouldn’t expect from working in the customer service field, but it got me thinking. This world is so ‘me’ centric. It’s not that everyone is deliberately looking out for number one or even that it’s something that they are conscious of, but it’s an issue of today’s world in any case. It’s all about me. What I need, what I want, what is affecting me. Why are we this way? Where we raised to believe that the world revolved around ourselves or is it a personality trait that developed after years of social living?
We don’t think about others. In some aspects, we don’t care what others feel, how they feel, what they think and in other aspects, we care too much about what others think of us. In this case, I’m talking about everyday living. I’m talking about taking into consideration the issues that could be affecting other people.
Walking down the street, we don’t know that the man with the torn and baggy clothes just got the news that he has incurable cancer. We only notice that he looks sloppy and unclean. Or we don’t know that the woman who is crying on the subway just lost her husband. We’re judging her for showing a major display of emotion. We don’t know that the boy at the park is being bullied at school for his weight or that the girl walking down the street is a foster kid.
Everyone has a background story, most of which is invisible at a single glance. But most of us judge people with just that single glance. We make split second decisions about that person without speaking a word to them, without knowing them at all.
We need to consider each person’s possible background situations. After all, your history is what defines you today. It’s what has made you into the person you are right now. And who but your closest friends and family know what that history is? I certainly don’t.
All I’m asking is that you take a moment and realize that the cashier you’re yelling at because of mispriced item, might be dealing with other issues at home and that they might not have control over the fact that an item was mispriced or misplaced within the store. That the customer service rep who is trying to figure out the specific situation that has you upset is just trying to do their job. They can’t read your mind and they might not know exactly why you called, but (for the most part), they are trying to help.
I actually ran into this situation the other day at the pharmacy. I was waiting to place my order so they could fill the prescription while I shopped. I was tired, it had been a long day and I was ready to go to sleep. Suddenly, a lady stepped in front of me and asked the pharmacy assistant what the hold up was. Why wasn’t her prescription filled yet? The assistant tried to patiently explain that there were over 100 prescriptions that they were trying to fill in the queue. The lady looked at the pick up line and replied, “while why don’t you fill the prescriptions of those waiting in line first”. The assistant tried to explain that the queue was filled not only from drop-offs, but also from faxes and automated systems, so it was filled in that order but the lady got huffy and left.
I had overheard the entire conversation and while I sympathized with the lady waiting in line, I also sympathized with the pharmacy technician who had to deal with multiple people like this daily. She was just trying to do her job and while I wanted to get in and out, I smiled at her and joked with her about the situation, trying to show empathy and understanding. After all, I have been in this very situation before myself.
While rude, apathetic people will always exist in this world that doesn’t mean that it should be the norm. If more people had empathy and understanding, the world would be a nicer place. And personally, I would prefer to live in a world where people smiled at each other a little bit more. Wouldn’t you?