Viewpoint: Be a kind customer


    With swarms of people about to descend on Utah for the Winter Olympics, some Games personnel are busily polishing up their manners.

    A recent Salt Lake Tribune article reported that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is conducting etiquette courses to help Olympic workers politely answer questions and give directions during the events.

    It’s a good idea, and should prove to make the lives of all the incoming athletes, media members and spectators, not to mention those of the local Games-goers, a little easier.

    But the question is: where are the etiquette courses that’ll make the lives of the everyday workers easier?

    For much of Utah’s workforce, having some kinder and gentler customers to deal with would be a relief.

    There are thousands of people in the state, and at BYU, who work in the tiring, headache-inducing and often thankless realm of customer service.

    They might work as sales associates at a clothing store, as pizza-delivery guys, as tech-support people answering phones or as waiters at a noisy, greasy restaurant on Friday nights.

    Think of the guys who sit behind the counter at 7-11 on Thanksgiving, just so others can fuel up on their way to Grandma’s house for a scrumptious, steamy feast. There are probably other things they’d rather be doing than filling up the Slurpee machine and keeping minors from buying cigrarettes.

    Too often the jostling crowd of customers and loitering teenagers overlooks the efforts of Utah’s workers.

    American capitalism has bred the phrase, known to all customers, “The customer is always right.” Using that adage as their rallying cry, some people barge into some store or restaurant and act like they own the place.

    They boss employees around and make unreasonable demands. They wreck merchandise displays that have taken workers hours to assemble. And when they’re finished, they fail to leave their waiter a tip.

    Shoppers like this can seek to excuse their behavior by thinking, “These workers are paid to clean up my mess and wait on me hand and foot; I can do anything I want.”

    This is untrue. Nobody, no matter what he or she is paid, wants to be mistreated or taken advantage of.

    Thankfully, there are plenty or responsible, courteous and friendly shoppers out there who live by the Golden Rule. To the weary, often overworked and underpaid workers of Provo, they are a godsend.

    It isn’t too hard to be nice. All it takes is a smile, a 15 percent tip and a little bit of patience.

    After all, workers are people too.

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