Friday, November 6, 2009

Are We More Polite Now?

I met a friend of mine at a mall the other day. I was supposed to counsel his purchase of a new computer and printer. It turned out I was not the expert he thought I was, but it was an enjoyable time with a good friend, and besides he bought lunch.
My friend commented after visits to several stores that he thought the courtesy level of sales people was nicer, kinder, and more polite since the economic downturn began. He said it made many people a little more appreciative of their jobs.
I can’t say I agree with my friend, but I’ve been thinking about what he said for the past couple of days.
There have been a number of changes in our social and cultural and even mercantile demeanor since money became tight in the households of America and even throughout the world.
Church collections are taking in a lot less at Sunday services.
Sales are far more prominent and the percentages off as bargains are bigger than they used to be. One-day sales are now longer.
Restaurant gratuities are down to 15% or less. It used to be 18% and even 20% for the better healed of out-eaters.
Gasoline prices are way down from the high two years ago, but they are heading back up. Mark my words, you will see four dollars a gallon gas again and sooner than you think.
The walk-in traffic on most department stores is down except for the discount chains like Wal-Mart and Target.
The evaluation of my house went down for the first time in ten years and so did my tax base.
As for people being kinder, more gentle and polite, maybe, but I think gentleness, courtesy and kindness is endemic of our being. I don’t think it was not there, it was just forgotten, like a lot of things of life and living. My experience is that most sales people, service folks and the like are basically polite. The first rule of sales and service is smile. The second is the customer is always right and so on. ( I have a little problem with that one. )
I am not Pollyannic, but I am positive and optimistic. I believe all people are inherently nice, but it is often a surly attitude or an unreasonable persona on the part of the customer that conditions an adverse reaction.
It is amazing what a “please” and a “thank you” and a smile will do for anybody’s attitude and disposition. :-)

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