Ah, another day, another ethics challenge at the 7-11! If it isn’t CVS, it’s another local establishment. As Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say,
For the third straight night, some jerk had parked his car in the church parking lot overlooking our cul-de-sac, sitting with his headlights on so they came right in our living room window and driving my wife to distraction. And also for the third straight night, I put my lovey but pit-bully dog Spuds on his leash to confront the driver, and asked him why the hell he was sitting in his car shining lights in my window. They always say the same thing: “I’m sorry, I had no idea!” Why don’t they have any idea? See those houses literally right in front of you? See where the light beams go?
What’s the matter with these people?
Immediately thereafter, I ran an errand for my already annoyed wife that required me to go to our local 7-11. The clerk, whom I don’t think I’ve ever seen before but he was wearing a %&4#@! mask so I can’t be certain, handled my transaction while having a conversation on his cell phone, never looking at me. This has never happened to me before. In fact, more than once I have admonished customers ahead of me in line in various stores for not having the common courtesy and respect to get off their cell phones or bluetooths and treat clerks like human beings rather than robots. I’ve done it at that 7-11, in fact.
The clerk’s behavior was a predictable consequence of the rude jerks I wasn’t around to admonish. It’s tit-for-tat: if those are the new standards of acceptable conduct customers are inflicting on him, then this clerk accepts them. Now hek is going to treat customers like they were potted plants, and think’s that OK. Maybe other clerks will take their cues from him, and do likewise. And another tiny bit of human consideration and manners bites the dust.
I was in a rush; it was a quick purchase, and I felt like I had done my quota of civility confrontations for the day, so I just took my stuff and left. Now I’m angry at myself. I should have told the guy that I didn’t appreciate his chatting on the phone when I was depending on his service. I should have told him that it was rude, and that I would never treat him that way if our positions were reversed. Maybe I should have told him that I knew his boss (which I do) and that I would make a point of mentioning this episode to him. Aah, probably a warning would be sufficient: I should have said that the next time he does that to me or anyone else, I’ll blow the whistle on him. That’s better.
But I did nothing. Maintaining standards of civility depends on societal enforcement in millions of interactions like this one. That requires vigilance by all of us. This was the “broken window syndrome” of convenience store manners.
I’m sorry, everyone.