It’s amazing what people get away with nowadays. Sometimes, I’m glad that my grandma became a recluse before she died, because she would have been appalled by ‘young people’ (ie, anyone under 90) and their behaviour. I’m not even talking about drunken idiocy or addictions to Words with Friends (oh, shush, you), but courtesies that seem to have been forgotten.
Example: I never go to a party without a) asking if the host/hostess needs anything, nor b) bringing anything, even if it’s just a bottle of wine or box of chocolates. There are (very, very) rare cases that I don’t bring anything, but then apologise profusely once I arrive if that’s the case. Lately, I’ve gone to a couple of events where the people throwing the party were all ‘What? You brought a thing?’ – and yeah, in one case, I was the only one to bring a bottle of wine (the person I went with brought some beer to share) to a housewarming party (it was for people I didn’t know well, so I didn’t what housewares they needed). No one else brought anything. Is that the new normal? Or was a raised in a strange, sweary etiquette bubble?
I am not always (fucking) polite and frequently clam up or hide a bit at social occasions when I don’t know all the norms. And that’s fine. If you don’t know something, ask. Also, staying low-key in a nerve-wracking situation is often okay. But y’know what? Wearing worn out khakis, a faded plaid shirt, and sneakers to a semi-formal wedding isn’t.
Jeans and trucker hats at weddings, at funerals, and, hell, in court – it ain’t right. These are all special occasions, even if they are not necessarily happy events. Make a fucking effort to look nice. If you don’t know what to wear, ask. Ask a human, not Yahoo! Answers. Seriously.
(Hell, I have mixed feelings about strapless wedding dresses if they take place in a house of worship. Yeah, I don’t know what’s wrong with me either.)
My latest case of ‘When the hell did that become appropriate?’ happened while I was at the bank waiting for change last week. Now, most of the tellers at this bank are students or recent graduates and I’d say 90% are laconic, if I actually believed their tendency toward minimal talking was a sign of intelligence.
They are also, by and large, untrained in treating customers, or have forgotten how to talk to non-bros, or are just fucking idiots. I don’t think old ladies enjoy being yelled at to be told it’s their turn. I had one teller say ‘Yeah, the customer ahead of you is gonna be slow. Go over there (pointing to the non-business line).’ No apology, no please, no nothing.
The same teller once blamed my change order not being ready on accidentally deleting the voicemail I left about it – even though she knows who I am and where I work, she didn’t bother to call me back. ‘You could have phoned to let me know?’ ‘I didn’t have your number.’
Again, no apology, and, apparently, no phone book or access to our files.
(I don’t like that teller, obviously.)
Anyway, last Friday, at the Bank of the Barn-raised, one of the tellers (probably spends his days concerned about his spotter not catching him when his hair gel makes him slide right off the bench when he’s working on his pecs rather than, say, his job) referred to every male customer who came to his counter as ‘buddy’. Old, young, didn’t matter. ‘How’s it goin’, buddy?’
I mean, what the hell is that? I know that a lot of people think being called ‘ma’am’ or ‘sir’ is jarring, but ‘buddy’? If that becomes the new normal, I…well, I’m not sure what I’ll do. Maybe I will start wearing pearls just so that I can clutch them when I get called ‘ho-bag’ by a receptionist at my optometrist’s. Maybe I’m showing my ancientness (again), but I’d rather be called ‘Ma’am’ or ‘Miss’. I’m starting to wonder if I should insist on it.
This is completely ironic given that I work at a cinema not known for its friendliness (it’s hard to be chirpy all the time, okay?!), but even Grouchy Manager calls men ‘Sir’ and women ‘Madame’ (like in French, not like in a brothel (unless it’s a French one)). I miss good, solid customer service. I miss career employees, like the Eaton’s Ladies with their glasses on chains. Y’know, the ones who knew the store inside and out, and who measured me for shoes every few months for, like, eight years (I lie – most of my shoes came from (Simpson-)Sears, the one at Carlingwood with the giant Winnie the Pooh on the wall, but the Eaton’s Ladies always seemed more glamourous). I miss bank tellers who were great at their job, but stayed in their position because they were great at their job, instead of being shifted from branch to branch every few months (man, I hope that cranky teller’s transferred soon).
However! I am lucky on that last point, as my own bank still employs two tellers who have been there since I was a kid (well, teenager, really). They are zippyfast and superpro. I love that. And I hate that that’s not normal.
But, like everything else nowadays, jobs are so disposable that people just don’t give a shit sometimes. But they should. Every work experience builds to something. As I mentioned the other day, Paul’s dad had some wisdom on this: ‘Do your job better than anyone expects you to’. I don’t think young people do that much (with exceptions – most of my staff are crazy talented, yet not too precious to do the grunt work required of them). Is it because they expect too much too soon from their careers and resent chump work? Or are they actually, as old(e) people like me generalise, just really fucking lazy?
Anyway, please make me feel better (or worse) by telling me about good and terrible customer service or breaches of etiquette you’ve encountered lately. I love a good horror story about that kind of thing, because who doesn’t like to feel appalled and smug at the same time?