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Thank God I wasn’t ‘That’ Person

There are times when we are in a rush, didn’t get enough sleep or are just in a bad mood.  And, these times may very well bring out the worst in us. Unfortunately, we can be so caught up in our own worlds, that we lose all sense of self-awareness and don’t even realize how we treat or come across to others.  I’ve been there.  I’m sure of it.

This past week, while traveling, I had the privilege of observing a person in this very mindset, and I came away thankful. Why? Because, I was reminded of how NOT to act towards others.  Here’s the story:

It was lunch time in Las Vegas (Yes, I actually travel to Las Vegas quite often). I grabbed a salad from a restaurant and walked over to the Starbucks across the street for a noon-time Latte. The line was only a few people long, however, the line didn’t budge for a good five minutes. The woman in front of me was obviously irritated by this fact, as she regressed back to a childlike state: She looked at her watch, stomped her left foot, crossed her arms and swung her hips out to the right. After another minute, she looked at her watch, stomped her right foot, re-crossed her arms and swung her hips out to the left. She continued to do this at least ten times, every minute, gradually progressing to every 15 seconds, at which point I had recurring flashbacks of doing the Hokey Pokey. Finally, the line moved and Ms. Hokey Pokey (HP) got to the counter.

As the server greeted her, barely getting ‘Welcome to Starbucks’ off his lips, she quickly snapped “Give me the business card for the Manager of this Starbuck’s.” The server was a bit confused and obviously not quick enough. She snapped again “What is the store number of this Starbucks?” He quickly rattled off the number and she proceeded to order her latte. HP paid and then stomped over to the ‘Pick Your Drink Up’ counter. As the Barista made HP’s drink, HP continued with her Hokey Pokey ritual. Trying to be friendly, the Barista asked HP how she was doing that day, and HP snapped “I’m fine. However, I’m REALLY LATE.”  The Barista gave HP her drink and HP swiped it from the counter and stomped out of Starbucks. Lovely…just lovely. As I went up to the counter, I felt myself give the server a sympathetic smile and proceeded to treat them with the respect they deserved. And deep down, I was glad I wasn’t ‘That’ person.

Again, I’m sure we all have these moments, but isn’t it nice when someone else acts this way so that we can subtly be reminded that even when you are stressed and in a bad mood, no one deserves to be treated badly as a result?  Thank you “Especially Mean Woman from Howard Hughes Starbucks!”  I owe you a Latte!

Have you ever witnessed this type of behavior?

Related Topics:

The Permagrin: Being Forced to Smile
Reasons to Smile
The Importance of Sleep
Techniques to De-Stress your Life

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Posted in Brett's Blog, Mind-Body Tagged with: , ,
  • http://fightingtheyouth.blogspot.com/ Reed

    It would have been so awesome if the barista responded to her “REALLY LATE” thing with: “Yes, but here we pronounce it ‘Lah-tay’.”

    Also, if HP was running so lah-tay, why on earth did she go into Starbucks in the first place?

  • mrose

    I witnessed almost the exact scene just yesterday, except with slight variations with the physical movements of the perpetrator. She was sitting down so she wasn’t able to swing her hips back and forth. I felt so sad as I watched her rudeness escalate until she finally left the restaurant in a huff. I was trying to feel compassion for her, as I suspect she was not a tremendously happy camper. But her face was so glaring and sour that it was difficult. The waitress was incredibly hospitable, kind, and gentle throughout the ordeal.. I was so impressed! After the customer left, I expressed my appreciation to the waitress for how kind she was; she said it took all she had to remain so. I understand — I tried working in the restaurant industry about 10 years ago and I lasted 2 weeks because I couldn’t handle the mean people expecting me to serve them even when they were nasty to me.

  • Katie

    I just “witnessed” a ‘That’ person on another story (on this website). It was a story about personal trainers and someone made a comment about going through 5 different trainers and feeling so sore they couldn’t move and someone else made a comment about how fat they must be to go through 5 trainers etc etc….gotta love the anonymity of the internet. LOL

  • http://www.sheerbalance.com Brett

    Katie…you are so right. I am amazed at how MEAN people can be on the internet and on blogs. The only positive I guess I can see from it is that it sparks discussion. People get called out on that behavior and hopefully they read the responses. Unfortunately, people like that never really get it…do they?

  • Chelsea

    I’m a Starbucks barista and we get those people all the time, especially during the holidays which is when I work the most because I’m in college. I’m just trying to pay my way through school and give people their coffees as quick as I can while getting their super-customized order correct. I don’t need the extra stress of people treating me badly because of something I can’t help.

  • John

    Starbucks needs to figure out a way to train Baristas to remember the details because much of the appeal of the Starbucks experience is the customization. It builds brand loyalty.

  • Joyce

    Walk in Love
    We all have our bad moments. We have been the Hokey Pokey lady. Thank Goodness we have learned from it and have risen up and become a better person. Stand steady in your updated more loving self. Sending out love to even the undeserving HP lady, is like sending forgivness and love to your former self.

  • Hannah

    I’m a customer service representive for T-Mobile and I can tell you all kinds of horror stories. I understand being irritated or angry. I don’t understand screaming, swearing or threatening someone who has not done anything to you (or doesn’t have magical powers to fix everything.). I believe that society is trained to think that being aggressive will get you anything you want and this mentallity goes to the extreme in any kind of service related scenario. It can make you hate people.

  • Sheila Goodwin

    Okay folks but how about the other side of the coin ?,my husband and I where on the road stopped at a Waffle House for breakfast- we where smileing in a good mood and where totally ignored by 5 young women for over 15 minutes/ not even a good morning be right with you -Nutten Honey.
    We said nothing just left guess that was why they had so few customers.
    Had a lovely breakfast at the Cracker Barrel 12 miles down the road W/ excellent service & food.
    Bad service is not an excuse to act like a jerk but it should not be acceptable eather.

  • I like coffee

    Any idea why the line was not moving in Starbuckks ?? It was probably because there was some moron at the front of the line , more than likely on their cell phone, taking their sweet ass time figuring out what they are going to order and then spend five minutes digging around for their money. These are the arrogant, me only !! type of people who frequent Starbucks and if you politely mention this to them they cop this almighty attitude. What has happened to common courtesy, figure out your order, have your money ready, smile to the staff and then step to the side. It is simple and the staff in any store will appreciate it.

  • shortnsweet

    I have worked at subway for quite a while and I am consistently taking orders from people who seem to think I am their servant, or possibly a robot without the need for common courtesy. No “Hi”, no “Please”, no “Thank you, have a nice day”. A Lot of, “that’s too much mayo!” and “Gimme more olives!” Recently I was promoted to assistant manager, which means I have the authority to let people know that all they get for $5.43 is a sandwich- not an ass-kissing, and not the right to abuse the staff.

  • Robert

    Brett, i’ve been seeing what you mean more and more lately. On the yahoo buzz… forum… thing… /every/ thread, regardless of any political bearing in the story in question, is overrun with right-wing armchair politicians with large, often unnecessarily profane mouths and (apparently) small brains…

  • heather em

    First of all, thank you John. You really made me laugh; i hope your comment was tongue-in-cheek, as i interpreted it.

    And Sheila: we are not talking about the other side of the coin right now. You’re a good example of what i was going to sum up all of this terrible behavior as: victimization. People love to feel victimized. They love to feel some satisfaction in the suffering of others (i.e. misery loves company) because they have been given the short end of the stick somewhere along the way. The fact that you even brought up your story in this thread is sort of funny to me, although i suppose it is fair to hear all sides of the issue… i guess ;)

    (don’t want to be rude; i’ve definitely been ignored by waitstaff before, so i’m certainly not trying to diminish your negative experience in any way.)

    Having worked in retail since i was fifteen (i am 29 now), you could say i have acquired a certain amount of customer experience. What it all boils down to is choice. The waitpersons who ignored Sheila dn her husband made a poor choice in being rude and not performing their job to the full extent of their capabilities. Ms. Hokey-Pokey made a *terrible* decision by getting in a line (for a luxury, no less!) when she was clearly running late already. The problem is when we project all our bullcrap on other, innocent people.
    i’ve said my piece. We need to not forget that the person across the counter from us is a human, too (and this goes both ways!).
    i guess after all, i really am a hypocrite, so i don’t even have a particular horror story to add ;) i suppose after awhile you block them out. But i will say that the people who spend zero time deciding what they want in a long line, only to monopolize the counterperson’s time once they get up there can drive me crazy. Or the Pointy McPointersons: “i want *this* one. No, the one to the left. No, THAT one!”

    Sheesh, folks, it’s a croissant. Seriously, relax.

  • dontlikemeanpeople

    I experienced basically the exact same thing at wendys! Customers like her ruin my day but the people after her who are super nice to me after witnessing that scene makes me so happy. Sometimes they even comment on her actions, saying things like “whats her problem?” lol.

  • maryk

    Yes I did witness this very sort of behavior recently in a donut shop in Columbus, Ohio. My husband and I were picking out a dozen. A man walked in and got in line behind us and wasn’t there for maybe a full minute before he barked out, “Is there someone else here who can help me, I mean, before it gets dark?” The lady behind the counter smiled and said, “No, it’s just me.” The guy turned on his heel and stormed out. I guess he thought it would take him faster to get back in his car and drive to another donut shop instead of waiting another 30 seconds.

  • Jenny

    I used to work at Kinko’s. I would never, ever have expected to be treated the way I was by customers- and on a regular basis, no less. I consider myself a pretty tough chick- I have four kids, and thought I could pretty much take *anything* in stride. However, at least once, I ended up sobbing hysterically in the breakroom with my apron over my face. I was called a “prissy little b**ch” once, because the customer thought the prices were too high. I had to call the police once when a customer refused to leave at closing time, because “other Kinko’s were open 24 hours”. A customer who wanted a service that we didn’t provide left in a rage, knocking over two greeting-card racks on his way out. Another customer told me that I must be a talentless schmuck, because SHE worked in customer service, and managers put *all* talentless schmucks on the evening shift. Yeah, I saw the worst side of human nature during the Kinko’s gig. Now, almost subconsciously, I bend over backwards to be a pleasant customer, no matter where I go.

  • http://www.sheerbalance.com Brett Blumenthal

    Jenny…that is awful. I’m really sorry to hear that. No one deserves to be treated like that.

  • Jenny

    No- no one does deserve that kind of treatment. I ended up quitting, because my supervisor told me that I was developing a bad attitude- and she was probably right. No matter how I tried to let stuff roll off of my back, everyone has a breaking point. Unfortunately, I started to almost EXPECT customers to be nasty, because nastiness was actually the rule rather than the exception. My husband, who is a carpet salesman, was amazed at the stories I’d come home with. Of course, he puts up with his fair share of crazy customers, but nothing like I’d experienced at Kinko’s. The bottom line was that for me, it was much less stressful to stay home with my 14- and 8-year-old daughters and my 4-year-old twins, when I had actually taken the job to get out of the house a little. The moral of the story is…. BE NICE! Manners cost nothing, but are worth everything!!

  • Sir,Master Guru

    lol!!!, that person used to be me, lol!!! Yet one of things that helped me mature was the true grasp of reality which infact is that we spend 95% of our life in line anyway so just be patient!!!lol

  • Liz

    I think the feeling of entitlement is to blame in a lot of situations like the one you described. I always tell my husband who is not always respectful in similar situations that it only takes a second to be polite!

  • Christine

    Robert: um, not sure what ‘right wing’ has to do with it; there are lots of rude ‘left wingers’ too.
    Point is, people are people. No excuse for rudeness, but we have to try to have compassion, knowing that people may be going through things we don’t know about.
    All any of us can do is try not to be ‘that person’. Maybe if we all did that (myself included) there would be no more ‘that person’ s. :)

  • Lisa

    I try not to be “that person”, but I must say this: In Staples at Bryant Park, at the printing section there is a lovely young lady who graciously helped me, twice. The Last time, I was very late for an interview, I had to bind 2 portfolio booklets, but in my mind my lateness was the issue. As she said good morning, I burst into tears, I was not dressed for an interview or anything, I just rushed out of the apartment. But she was so kind to me, gave me a box of tissues and looked over my portfolio. She listened to me and said, “You will do fine, this is a great portfolio.” Later, I did my interview, went to the pastry shop and delivered the ‘thank you’ gift to her. I am since in my home country, and will remember her for her kindness to me a former foreign student. Customer service is a gift. There are good days and bad days.

  • Indigo Red

    Yeah, I’ve been in foodservice going on 6 years now. Those people are a dime a dozen; you have to wonder what makes them so pathetic. People end up saying how rude you are, when in fact, they’re the ones who are rude, because they always end up huffing and puffing until you drop everyone else’s orders just to get them out of your hair, so everybody else has to wait longer than they deserve. Makes you want to go hang drywall for a living.

  • kingleewolfdaddy

    punch her coffee tell her to leave

  • J

    I have been that person all to often and when I take a step back and realize that my impatience and stress along with my overwhelming anger is because of something as simple as not having enough time, I realize that time is honestly not a relavent thing. And if I am going to be late, the world is not going to coming crashing in on itself. People have lost their own self-views on patience and compassion because of the stressful, hectic life of jobs, work, etc. We all need to take a step back and realize that it is okay to take a few extra minutes, especially when it is not our own fault we run out of time.

  • Samantha B

    I have worked in the service industry for many years. It really is surprising how terrible some people treat people who work in places like fast food restaurants. It almost seems that they see the employees as lower than them in every way and therefore deserving of belittling and rude behavior.

    I can not tell you how many times I have been talked down to, threatened, yelled at and even hit. Yes a customer hit me in the face once because he took my comment as rude when all I said was I am very sorry sir but we are out of that item at the moment. He punched me full out in the face in front of at least seven customers, several of which came to my aide and removed him from the store by force.

    Another time, and this one is a doosey, a lady tried to come through the drive through window before we were actually open for business. I hadn’t turned the window dinger on yet so I didn’t even know she was there until she drove up to the window and in a rage began banging on the window with her shoe. I came to the window and apologized, explained to her that we were not currently open. She then began to yell at me about how she had been waiting back there for ten minutes (I had already told her the dinger thing wasn’t on) and when I told her we didn’t open for business until 7 (it was only 6:40) she flew into a rage. Evidently she expected me to fill her order before actual business hours and before we where ready to fill it, and hadn’t gotten anything ready yet ( we had only been there for 10 minutes). I said sure mam we can make that for you, but we aren’t set up yet so it might take a little longer than usual if you don’t mind waiting. She just rolled her eyes and told me that if it was going to take longer than normal dont i think i should get to making her order instead of standing around talking out my ass, that is exactly what she said. Okay, so I had to set up a register very quickly, get the regular kitchen lady to come out of the stocking freezer to make her order, altogether it couldn’t have taken fifteen minutes. The whole time we were working on the order she was honking her horn every ten seconds it seemed like. Finally I came back to the window and she asked me if I was going to take her money. Sure mam, I wasnt just making her order or anything at all, just standing around. I explained to her that I had to wait for the register system to load up, which was also true, and that it had just came up a few minutes ago. She popped off with well you should have taken my money a few minutes ago shouldn’t you. right. This continued until the woman’s food was ready and she snapped the bag from my hand and informed me that I was lucky she didn’t notify the manager. When I notified her of the fact that I was the manager she glared at me like I had just spit in her face and sped off. Good riddance lady.

    I think that if more people “of privilege” worked jobs like these at least as teenagers they wouldn’t act as superior. I don’t understand why some people think its okay to talk and behave that way to people. Its not, ever, no matter what the situation, its never okay.

  • http://myspace/drop_it_like_its_spooky Chris

    My ex boyfriends mom was so like that! very often she would be unbelieveably rude at stores and restaurants. I didn’t want to be out with her when she’d start up like that. It was so humiliating.

  • hezah

    Hah, don’t come to New York. If we don’t get through a line quickly enough to whole place would be in an uproar. Starbucks does have a goal of getting you your coffee within 2.5 minutes (roughly, not sure the exact time). Not saying the lady needed to let her emotions overtake her…but we should be able to buy an expensive latte in a timely manner.