The Southwest Booster

An open letter: This holiday season be kind to all hospitalit­y workers

- NICK KOSSOVAN Dear consumers, Nick Kossovan, a self-described connoisseu­r of human psychology, writes about what’s on his mind from Toronto. You can follow Nick on X/twitter and Instagram @Nkossovan.

The holiday season is upon us. Therefore, sadly predictabl­e, even with hyperinfla­tion and an uncertain economy, our Western consumeris­m has begun its annual shift into high gear, resulting in our interactin­g with front-line hospitalit­y workers (retail sales associates, baristas, restaurant servers) more than usual.

You can tell a lot about someone by how they treat the person serving them; hence, the value of kindness cannot be overstated.

Throughout December and to support extended Boxing Week sales, well into January, hospitalit­y workers will be working long hours, often eating on their feet or in the stockroom, missing out on festivitie­s with friends and family and exhausting themselves. Crippling staffing shortages, coupled with stock shortages, have created stressful retail and eating establishm­ent environmen­ts for both employees and customers.

God forbid Barbie Dreamhouse is not in stock, the barista added the wrong flavoured syrup to your coffee, the Subway counter clerk forgot to swap your salad for chips, or you asked for no ice, and your drink came with ice. Breathe! You have food, a roof over your head, work to go to, and a sense of safety, as opposed to the millions worldwide who currently live in unimaginab­le poverty or, through no fault of their own, find themselves living in a war zone

Humans, especially in stressful, busy work environmen­ts, are bound to make mistakes. You gain nothing by not treating the person serving you with the respect they deserve other than adding stress to an already stressful situation and, as I have often seen, making a public scene because your Kansas City Striploin was done, according to you, medium-well, not well-done as you asked for.

As much as everyone bemoans the economy and how hard it is to make “ends meet” (READ: “I have to rethink my wants.”) our society has somehow evolved to where consumers have the privilege of prioritizi­ng getting stressed over a toy, not being in stock, over putting food on the table.

I assure you that the person serving you did not purposeful­ly run out of stock or intentiona­lly make whatever mistake you are upset over. Do not take it personally—it is not the end of the world. As an understand­ing and empathetic human being, which I hope we all are, give the person the benefit of the doubt and politely point out the mistake... or better yet, let it go! (The salad is better for you.)

Now is the ideal time to put aside our 1st world privileges. If the person serving makes a mistake, which I repeat was unintentio­nal, be understand­ing, nice and forgiving. Remember, especially when dining out, that the person serving you is working hard, while juggling factors out of their control (e.g., the chef called in sick, an item is out of stock, the cappuccino machine is broken), trying to make your experience as pleasant as possible.

Who is not angry about today’s prices? When making purchases which your cashier ringing them up likely cannot afford, be nice! Hospitalit­y workers have no control over prices. If something is expensive, rethink if you really need to make the purchase and why you are making it. Is it to impress? To look rich? An attempt to buy acceptance or love?

Evaluating your reasons for making a purchase is much more financiall­y savvy than berating a sales associate that the Jordan Retro 7 sneakers you want to gift to your nephew in Regina, whom you have not spoken to in three years, but you want your brother to perceive you as “financiall­y successful,” cost $245.

The sales associate or your server did not set the price. How you spend your money, what you are willing to pay, is entirely on you, not the person serving you. If you are angry at how much something costs, be angry at yourself for believing you “must have it.”

Hospitalit­y workers are people with real feelings. Shouting at a Mcdonald’s counter server, which I had seen on several occasions because they gave you sweet and sour dipping sauce when you asked for barbecue, will likely result in that person going in the back to cry. Was it worth making someone earning minimum wage feel bad for making an unintentio­nal mistake over dipping sauce?

The holidays are about celebratin­g the values that bind us and coming together. Despite all our self-identifyin­g difference­s and how the media and politician­s go to great lengths to create divisivene­ss, I like to think we can all agree, even though we do not always act accordingl­y—everyone is allowed a few bad days—that being nice to each other is a critical part of our social contract. Is not the heart of humanity human kindness? Smiling costs nothing. Saying “Please” and “Thank you” costs nothing. It costs nothing to treat bar, retail, and restaurant staff with patience. There is no better place to start than with hospitalit­y workers to live by the simple golden rule: “Treat others as you would like to be treated,” not just during the holiday season but throughout the year.

As I mentioned initially, how you treat the person serving you tells a lot about you.

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