Just Be Nice
One of my favorite movies from the late 80s is “Roadhouse” starring the fabulous Patrick Swayze (God rest his soul). For those who haven’t seen the movie (Shame on you! Go watch it now! Just kidding, but you really should watch it.), Patrick Swayze’s character, Dalton, is a famous “cooler” (a fancy word for the head bouncer) who comes to a trashy dive bar called The Double Deuce to turn it around. In one of the best scenes, Dalton is explaining how to handle unruly patrons. His third, and most important rule, is “be nice.” No matter what the customers do or say, Dalton wants his bouncers to “just be nice” and goes onto to explain that it’s nothing personal, it’s just a job. This movie was made in 1989 and things are very different almost 30 years later. While it’s normal that things change, it’s not always for the better.
As I move through my daily life, I encounter people who bring the “be nice” scene to my mind. More times than not, those people seem to thrive on misery. They hate their jobs so much, it seems to scar their everyday lives.
Hatred for your job is nothing new. It’s been around for millennia. I’m sure the Ancient Roman who had to clean up the Colosseum after the Gladiators, probably hated his job. Or the person tasked with cleaning up the streets before there were cars, probably wasn’t too thrilled either. There have always been jobs that suck – I’ve had a few myself. But while terrible jobs haven’t changed, people’s ability or willingness to hide it has.
Like most mothers I had to make a trip to my local Babies ‘R Us for some necessary (and some unnecessary – man those little girl clothes are SO cute…and addicting!) things for my kids. After spending about as much time in the store as my two youngest would allow, I took my purchases to the front of the store. There wasn’t a soul around. Not a single register was open. It was 45 minutes after opening and associates were busy restocking shelves, yet not one was posted close enough to even see the registers, let alone man one if needed. I could have walked out with my entire cart and no would have known (and probably wouldn’t have cared either). Ten minutes, and a screaming baby and rammy toddler, later someone finally opened a lane – I know I should have left (and I really wanted to) but I was in desperate need of formula and it was on sale (that shit is expensive!).
The kid that (begrudgingly) opened the register, was not happy to have to deal with the public. He was talking under his breath, annoyed that “Kim was late.” And he didn’t understand “why he had to be there” it was “Kim’s job” and “he hated working the register” and “dealing with customers.” All his complaints were spoken loud enough for me to hear but even if he hadn’t said them out loud, his body language and heavy sighs dripped with annoyance. Every time he muttered a nasty comment under his breath, he would look at me and say, “well, not you. I don’t mean you.” Yeah right, Dude! I believe you’re speaking about all the other people in the line behind me but not about me. Yeah, sure.
I am sure that Kim’s late arrival and lack of responsibility was a huge annoyance not only him but the rest of her co-workers and management. Her actions were totally disrespectful, I get it but I didn’t need to hear about it from the guy ringing me out. I didn’t need to see his attitude. I didn’t need to feel like I was a nuisance to him. I didn’t need to think that my patronage of that store was anything but appreciated. I needed him to scan in my purchases, ask me how my morning was going. I needed him to smile at my fussy kids and demonstrate to me that he would get me out of that store as quickly as possible. Kim and her late arrival should have not even registered on my radar that morning. Instead I left that store feeling frustrated, underappreciated, and just plain pissed off.
It doesn’t take much to change someone’s day. Especially an overwhelmed and tired mother. A simple empathetic smile and a “hello” or “beautiful children” will make her feel so much better. Just be nice. So next time you’re at your job, even if it’s the worst job in America, the Northern Hemisphere, or even the World, I want you to remember that it’s not personal. It’s a job. If you don’t like it, you can change it. If you can’t change it, then don’t share that misery with others. It does nothing to improve your situation. Instead, try smiling. Try faking happy. You may just find that your mood improves. I had a business coach who once told me that “you need to fake it until you make it.”
If you hate your job, too bad. You have two options; suck it up or move on. Don’t let your customers know you are anything but happy to see them and serve them. And just remember Dalton, “just be nice. It’s a job. It’s nothing personal.”