12.1.14

Just look at me, PLEASE

It's been brought to my attention that I don't blog as much any more, and that the nature of the blog has changed so, well, why not start this year off properly with a return to form?  And what better return to form than a rant?

Way back, when I was a sweeter young thing and dinosaurs roamed the earth, I was taught that there was as way to do things.  And one of those things was how to "serve" the public - first as a chambermaid/coffee pourer at an inn in upstate NY and then as part of the box office team at a summer stock theatre.  Rule number one: make eye contact with customers, let them know you see them and are aware they need you.

When I was in the box office, if there I was helping someone on the phone and someone walked up to the ticket window, I was supposed to make eye contact - if there was an appropriate moment, interrupt the phone call and say (to the person in front of me) "just a moment" or if there wasn't an appropriate moment, give the "just a second sign".  No one was to feel that they weren't important.

That rule held true as I worked my way through other box office experiences, working as a receptionist and other jobs.  Even when handling 10 incoming lines and 400 extensions, the person in front of me got eye contact, a smile and some indication that I knew they were there (sometimes I'd even write a note so we could communicate).

Why has that rule been forgotten?  It's so incredibly rude to not acknowledge someone right there.  Most recent example?  My local CVS, where I was just yesterday, getting a refilled prescription.  I stood there, patiently waiting for one of the two people behind the counter to even glance in my direction.  I wasn't the only one there, but to the gentleman on the phone and the woman checking out the two customers ahead of me, I might as well have been at home... or invisible.  What a small amount of effort it would have taken to look at me and indicate that yes, they knew there was another patient waiting.  Patiently.  It's the same everywhere I go: eye contact and looking at patrons/clients/customers is so rare, so unusual as to be virtually extinct.  And it's not just young whippersnappers who fail to do it: the two CVSers were close to my age.

Bring back the good old days, please.  What's wrong with a little in person civility in a century when we're increasingly communicating digitally?  Anyone?

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