Ten years, that’s how long I’ve been at it. Working retail, that is. I’ve stood behind counters from here to the there and back again, smile on my face, register at my side, fingers punching in numbers, typing out coupons, clacking away at the total with gift cards and cash and blood– I mean credit cards.
It’s a type of job that, despite the weird hours and people, I’m generally good at and enjoy. I’ve got Golden Retriever Syndrome, where you put me in a room and I’m happy just to talk and get to know everyone there, while being as helpful as I can. I actually ask folks how their day has been.
Once they’ve stopped staring at me, sweating, red faced, eyes darting around, wondering why I’m asking, nine out of ten folks are generally pretty happy to tell me, talk with me, connect on a level of some basic humanity and respect.
But there will always be that one person who doesn’t want that. There will always be a person who drags with them some sort of cloud, a penumbra of misery or aggression or indulgence or cynicism, who refuse to meet you at that level of respect.
(This is not a knock against those with baggage they have no control over. There are millions upon millions of people who have had things happen to them in life, who suffer from conditions and illnesses that they did not choose, and work to live and deal with them as best they can. This is not a post about those folks, who do the best with what they were given.)
This is a post about those who actively choose to live life in the shadow of cynicism, who go out of their way to be difficult and aggressive, because that is how they get what they want.
Now I said on Twitter, and I believe this, that most people, when push comes to shove, are intrinsically good. Most people, if given the option, will buck up and do the right thing. I’ve seen it plenty of times, in retail and outside of it. Likewise, I’ve seen the opposite, where people walk by, turn away, look away, refuse. (And hell, we’re all guilty of that from time to time, yeah? We all do it, sometimes).
I don’t really know if I have a point to this, other than affirming to myself that the one out of ten, the cruel and aggressive and mean, are in fact the minority. I don’t know if I’m just spitting in the wind or whatever, but I do hope and know in my heart of hearts that people are generally good.
Maybe my point is that, if given the chance, be a good guy. In the words of Garth Ennis’s Preacher, “there are too many bad guys out there.” Remember that we don’t live on this world alone, that the person behind the counter or ahead of you in line or looking for their wallet, they need help as much as you might, someday.
Life is hard enough as it is. Don’t make it harder for those around you, don’t make it harder for yourself. Offer a hand, offer a smile. If you can help someone, help.
As in most of my posts, I’ve ended up rambling.
TL;DR – Be a good guy. Help people if you can. Don’t be a jerk otherwise.