Monday, August 30, 2004

Impressions... #2

I was in New York City years ago and learned that, on average, the city's reputation for rudeness was well-deserved. On another trip, to New Jersey several years later, I expected it to be much the same, being right next door, but at that time I found most people there to be friendly and helpful.

On this visit to New Jersey, last week, things hadn't changed much. We spoke to people everywhere, asking questions, making small talk, and everyone was nice to us. Until we got to Atlantic City.

What is it that makes people rude? Is it that they are too busy to bother with the niceties of human interaction? Is it that they were never taught proper manners at home? What?

I was amazed, over the brief time that we spent in Atlantic City, how many people were rude. Not rude to us alone, to everyone. Most were store clerks or security guards. With a notable exception or two, they weren't overtly rude. They were passively rude. Clerks approached at cash registers never looked up, never said hello, never acknowledged the customer. Then, transaction complete, no goodbyes, no thank you, not even the ubiquitous "have a nice day."

In explaining this inexplicable behaviour to my son, I try to make light of it and tell him that the people act like they 'have a pickle up their butt.' I think that about describes it.

Why do people have a pickle up their butt? Are they so unhappy in their lives that they are drawn inward only and simply refuse to interact with anyone around them in any but the most rudimentary way? Why aren't these people spoken to, or fired? Every customer deserves to get service with a smile. End of story. When I am a customer, I don't give a fig about someone's problems at home or about how much they hate their job. Didn't they think of these things before they dropped out of school and guaranteed thereby a dead-end job and a non-career? Why make me suffer? I had nothing to do with their choices.

I'm not picking on Americans. We have the same problems here in Canada.

Atlantic City was still fun. My son frolicked in the waves, the day was beautiful and sunny, and I lost a roll of quarters at Bally's Casino. Yep, a whole ten dollars. I'm the last of the big-time spenders. I could never understand the attraction of gambling.

Maybe next time, I'll put twenty dollars (gasp) on the line.

No comments:

Post a Comment