The B Word

A few days ago, while at work, doing my job, I got called a bitch.

The customer who resorted to name calling was clearly In A Bad Mood and had decided to take it out on me because there was literally nothing I could do in retaliation. I couldn’t have even said anything to him, as he took the cowards way out and said it to me as he was leaving the premises. I was stunned by this customer and his accusation and actually had tears rolling down my face (which I was fighting very hard to control) while serving customers following this incident.

I have never been called a bitch before, not to my face in a way that was clearly just meant to make me feel bad about myself. It was a very confronting experience. I had to think for a while about why the remark had affected me so much (it took me serving a few customers before I was calm enough to look people in the eye again and ask how they were going).

I thought about the fact that if I was Not A Female, this customer would not have called me anything, let alone a bitch (or lazy bitch as I believe he described me). I also thought about the fact that if I was not in a position where I couldn’t retaliate, this incident wouldn’t have happened either. Perhaps, I wondered, if I had not been in a service role, this customer would not have felt entitled to take out his frustration and Bad Mood on me.

If I could meet this customer again, in a calm, controlled, neutral environment, I would like to say a few things to him. Most of them would be questions. One would be a request. And it’s a request I’ll make now, for anybody who is In A Bad Mood and has to come into contact with people who are paid to serve them.

Please, if you are In A Bad Mood, do not take it out on the person who is trying to do their job for you. If they did not cause your Bad Mood, and do nothing to further it, do not insult them for just doing their job. Their job is not to make you feel better, their job is to provide a service. If they are providing the service they are employed to provide, and are meeting the requirements of that service, do not assume that they have a further responsibility to you, especially when you are taking you’re Bad Mood out on them in the first place.

That, of course is the polite things I would do. At the time all I wanted to do was throw a swear-y insult back and maybe ban this customer from returning to my work place. But I was in shock, of course, and had no response.

I’d like to end this on a positive note by mentioning how grateful I was for the lovely customers who I had to serve following this incident. The ones who’d witnessed what happened and let me shed my few tears and be really shaky and avoid eye contact. These customers all had something sweet and supportive to say to me and it really helped me get through the rest of the shift.

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