Sunday, January 01, 2012

The New Year: Civility, Disrespect, and Inconsideration

So... more than once recently, in the midst of a heated debate on one post or another, some person or another has decried my lack of "civility."  I figure this night, on the verge of the dawn of a brand new calendar year, is a fine time to address this hotly contested issue.

My day job requires me to remain not only professional, but cheerfully welcoming to all our customers.  That means I'm forced to not only tolerate, but enthusiastically embrace (not literally) people who cannot be bothered to expend even an erg of energy in order to possibly make my life and the lives of my coworkers the tiniest bit easier.  Rather than putting something back where they found it, it's not uncommon for them to just toss it down on the base deck, or shove it somewhere it clearly doesn't belong.  Not because it's really any easier, when you get right down to it, but because they can't be bothered to give a shit.

I, being the consummate professional I am, will come behind them and straighten what they've disarranged, and cheerfully ask if they need help finding anything else.  That's my job.  And I'm good at it.  But we all know that what they deserve is a tongue lashing for being inconsiderate assholes.  Anyone who will stand by and watch someone working, then casually undo what they've done needs a good talking to.  Which they will not get because, as I'm sure we're all aware, the customer is always right.  Which means that simply through the act of intending to spend money, you can get away with just about anything short of bodily assault or theft.  Certainly callous disregard of the labor of others is   within that definition.  The customer is always right, even if they're increasing the workload of a group of people who are already terribly overworked and vastly underpaid.

What this means, in practice, is that all my patience is all used up while I'm at work.  By the time I get home and pick up my computer, I have very little patience left.  When conservative trolls come onto a conversation thread populated primarily by myself and my fellow liberals and inform us that their ideology forces them to do to our nation what the thoughtless and inconsiderate shoppers do to my work space, I am not restrained by any measure in telling them exactly what I think of them, their ideology, or those who share it.

If you really want to increase civility, here's an idea.  Be the kind of person who treats others, even lowly fast food and retail workers, with the kind of respect and regard you yourself would prefer.  Be the kind of person who encourages others to do the same.  Show us the same respect you would show a CEO, banker, or FOX News pundit, and act as though OUR labor is just as valuable to society as anyone else's.  Act like we matter, and maybe you'll earn the kind of civility you seem to think is your due.

In the meantime, however, if you act like a conservative jackass in a public part of cyberspace, and wear your moral defects with pride, I will treat you accordingly and in a way I cannot treat you when you pull the same bullshit on me at work.  If you don't like it, well, tough shit.  I don't care.  Get someone else to cry for you, because I sure as hell won't.  You want civility, catch me at work.  I have no choice but to treat you well, regardless of how you treat me and my coworkers.  But out here in cyberspace?  You'll get what's coming to you whether you like it or not.  Out here I can call an asshole an asshole.  And I often do.  Get used to it.  I have.

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