Old Lady Rant

Let’s pretend I work in the service industry. I don’t actually work in the service industry, but I support the service industry with the hotel thing I got goin’ on… and I used to work in the service industry when I was an on and off again barista from 2005 – 2010. Anyways… beside the point.

Sometimes in my job I have to field requests from hotels to change their policies on the site I write for. Some of these policies are normal like, “Max occupancy blahblah” and some of them are bat-shit crazy, like “No one from the hotel’s home city is allowed to stay at said hotel.” WHAT?

And here is my rant: I hate being treated with suspicion and malice when I am paying money to frequent an establishment.

I hate shopping at the stores that have really high dressing room doors to deter stealing, I hate shopping at places who act like I’m trying to scam them when I return a shirt that fit in the dressing room but now magically doesn’t fit at home, or a gift I don’t have the receipt for, or whatever. I will take store credit! I’m not returning 50 headbands I swiped off the counter! I am a grown ass woman making a totally legit transaction!

I resent the public transit police who are checking, feverishly, for transfers and proof of payment over 2 fucking dollars. It’s not that they are checking tickets, it’s the way they do it – they assume everyone is guilty and out to “take advantage of the city” from the get-go. One time I watched them harass a poor old woman who was very confused and intimidated by this uniformed ass holes and who didn’t understand english. All she wanted to do was get off the bus and they stood in her way demanding a transfer. She looked like a kicked puppy. What is the point of all of this?

There are some really nice apartments for cheap in San Francisco, owned be people who don’t want you to drink or have overnight guests in the apartment. No thank you, I will go elsewhere and pay twice as much because I am a grown up, and I will not be told how to live my life. Especially to someone I’m handing over a monthly lump sum to.

In one of the museums in Barcelona, I continually had to show my ticket to all of the guards every time I entered a room. For the love of god, there is a roped off entrance! And even if a handful, out of the hundreds who walked through the doors daily, actually got IN for free to look at your city’s historical and cultural existence – SO WHAT. I don’t like being treated like a pesky and deviant child. I also hate forced checked bags. If I go into anywhere and they make me check my bag because they are afraid I’m going to rip them off – I won’t shop there. I want the kind of relationship with my service provider where I come into the store, they don’t frisk me or treat me like I’ve already done something wrong, I can browse, buy something or not, and then move along with my day.

One time I had to take a drug test to get a job. I didn’t think this was a big deal until I showed up at the skeezy drug testing clinic, in my work clothes, with my big yellow purse, and they made me put all of my belongings in a gross locker after I waited in the equally gross waiting room, so I could pee in a cup. I was totally humiliated. Why does an employer want to hire someone they have to get drug tested? This makes no sense to me. If there was any doubt in my “got me shit handled-ness” in any of the interviews, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been offered the job. And now that have all my pee diagnostics. Great.

I don’t even get me started on airports. It’s not about security, it’s about customer service and kindness. I don’t even mind being frisked, I find it kind of thrilling, and I  would rather have them frisk every single person at the airport if it meant the inability for someone to use a plane as a bomb. But can they do it with a smile? Can TSA and airline workers in general have more compassion for the stressed out traveler? And of course, I know that travelers can be TOTAL ass holes. But maybe, if the bulk of humanity in an airport was treated like people and not sheep, everyone would take the grumps down a notch.

I realize there are totally rational reasons for all of these “security” measures or whatever. But I, as a totally well-meaning and honest person, resent the hell out of them. I have the ability to take responsibility for my actions, and though this may be a rare trait (though I believe it is more common than people give other people credit for), I want the benefit of the doubt. I am a grown up! It’s taken me a long time to get here! And if I want to drink in a hotel room, or where my purse into a store, or try on 30 dresses in one dressing room, I want to be able to do it! And until that day! Let this rant ring strong and true, from every mountain top and blog roll. Amen.

21 thoughts on “Old Lady Rant”

  1. It is assumed by most merchants that everyone is out to get them, and I hate that attitude. I had a gas station I frequented for a while because it was the only gas station on that side of the road on the way to my office. If I was short on gas in the morning it was the only convenient option. They had disabled their pay at the pump feature because they were convinced someone would drive off without paying (which I realize makes no sense since it secures your card information before the pumps turn on) and they also had someone inside who would literally follow you through the aisles if you were picking up a soda or candy. Completely inappropriate. Its not like this gas station is located in the ghetto, its located in an upper middle class white suburban neighborhood for heavens sake. I found a different route to work on low gas mornings.

    The only thing I actually get is drug testing for work. I get annoyed by it since I don’t do drugs, but after working for a company that didn’t drug test I was happy to work for ones that did. It wasn’t the obviously stoned people that was the problem, it was the closet cocaine addict that was the problem. He seemed all normal and nice and useful, and he always made sure not to stick anything up his nose inside the office building, which was great. It was the day they found out he was embezzling for drug money, only after he flipped his shit and threw a computer at someones head (apparently his dealer had cut his supply with something that gave him a bad trip) that anyone knew there was an issue. Fun times.

    1. I’ve debated all morning whether or not to comment about this. But! It’s bugging me so here I go.

      Saying “white” implies that businesses don’t have to worry about getting robbed in white areas, and in neighborhoods where people of color predominantly live, businesses DO need to worry about getting robbed. Both of these statements and implications are untrue.

      This post is obviously not about race, and I’m pretty certain your intention wasn’t meant to be racial, but there it is. I don’t want to have a racial discussion in the comments, so this response is meant as a flag of awareness.

      Carry on!

      1. You are right, and the comment was ill worded. They do have to worry no matter where they are it has nothing to do with race. More appropriately I should have said that following two feet behind every single person really is ridiculous. It is rather paranoid and intrusive.

        I didn’t intend to me offensive.

    2. I am pretty sure it’s a lot easier for coke heads to pass a drug test than a pot head, because cocaine doesn’t stay in your system as long as marijuana does. And there are plenty of crazy people out there throwing things who aren’t on drugs. Are we going to have to be evaluated by psychologists before we can work too?

  2. I too weirdly like to be frisked at the airport! I treat it as a kind of mini-massage.

    I hate being followed around stores though. I always blush and feel guilty even though I’m not!

  3. Oh, yes, the drug testing thing. I understand the NEED to make sure employees are drug free, but when I had to go get a drug test for my current job, it was so weird and you had to leave all your stuff outside the bathroom, in which a) there was no SINK and b) you weren’t allowed to flush the toilet.

    Also, I had to do a urine test AND a hair test, where they cut little bits of my hair of 8-10 places on my head. And I had to do all this TWICE, because we have random testing… and the second guy did a really bad job with the hair-cutting part of it and I had two or three weird little bristly short chunks of hair for months and months.

    Also, I completely agree about the returning things part, because… that’s why stores HAVE a return policy. So you can, you know, RETURN things. And as long as you’re not abusing the system or doing sketchy things, it is not a bad thing at all. Heh.

    (The main problem, really, is that you/I/most people are ‘well-meaning and honest’… but not everyone is.)

  4. This goes away when you get old. Go figure. I can’t remember the last time this stuff happened to me. TSA is always nice. I never get followed. Hotels bend over backwards to help me. It kind of makes me sad.

    And in my youth, I was once kicked out of a mall for looking too punk. Ha.

    1. This gives me hope that customer service improves with age. I really hope it does. Also saying “in my youth” makes me laugh. Because you aren’t 75, lady.

  5. Yes! WHY CANT THEY FRISK YOU WITH A SMILE??!! I bitch about this all the time, if you dont like what youre doing, then freaking go find some other way to make money! If you are that miserable at work, go somewhere else! And i will call them on it too! “Wow you look SO happy, you must be having a great day!” Or “Thanks so much for the GREAT customer service that came with the smile on your face”. There are plenty of places to work where you dont have to be face to face with people. They belong in the back of the house, not the front of the house.

    1. Hey Amanda,

      I think its not as simple as that. Working in retail or food service or any public-facing job is hard. You have to be “on” all the time. Most customers are run-of-the-mill to nice but, as with everything in life, there are a minority of complete jerks. Unfortunately, the complete jerks are the ones that tend to linger in your memory.

      Couple that with low wages, inflexible hours and little to no benefits and its a recipe for low morale. But I find it incredibly unhelpful and borderline patronizing to tell people to go out and find another job. Jobs are not exactly plentiful right now.

      At my last retail job I was one of 2-3 people that had any college education, let alone a degree. Most of my co-workers were in their early to mid-20s, had little job experience and few contacts. They were happy they were employed. We worked in an extremely seasonal business and every winter money was seriously tight and people were stressed. We were paid above minimum wage but hardly enough to live independently in the city so they commuted long distances or lived with rotating casts of roommates.

      What I’m trying to say is that a lot of working people have an less than ideal hand of cards. All my co-workers were white, so at least they weren’t getting harassed by the police all the time. Being a low-wage worker in America is a tough go. Sarcastic comments don’t help at all.

      1. “as with everything in life, there are a minority of complete jerks. Unfortunately, the complete jerks are the ones that tend to linger in your memory.”

        Umm yeah. As someone who works in customer service, it’s a two-way street.

      2. This is not a rant against customer service, and the comments here are not about to dissolve into customers VS customer service in an epic smack down on WWF RAW. Most people have all been on both sides of the fence on this one. And what I’m saying is: respect, and benefit of the doubt. It goes both ways, but in general if I’m paying for something I don’t want to be treated like I’m also ripping people off. Grumpyness in customer service happens, we all know that. The job is tough and people are ass holes. Let’s all try to be a little less accusatory… in general, in life, always.

      3. Liz,

        I probably should have specified in my comment that I have been there, worked those low wage, short hour retail jobs. And I am still in customer service, not because I dont have a choice, but because I like it. And I know what I am good at. And I dont have a degree, but Ive worked my way into my career because I put a smile on everyday, because I like working with people and making their day. But I do feel like there are a lot of other options, even in this economy, for people to make a living where they dont have to be in front of people if they really dont like it and arent made for it. We have quite a few open positions at my company right now that dont require people to be in front of customers and dont require experience and pays well over minimum wage. People dont have to be miserable going to work everyday. There are other options.

      4. Like most people, I’ve been on both sides of the fence.

        While people working in customer service jobs could sometimes do with being nicer, I’m fairly forgiving of a little bit of grumpiness there.

        What I don’t like? Companies that have policies that actively discriminate against their customers, or assume that the customer is out to get them. Stores that assume that you are out to rip them off, or that because there are a couple of youngish girls or women in the store that automatically they are up to no good.

  6. this whole post made me giggle and shake my fist – on my shuttle to work today – and it is SO on point! I am annoyed by all of these things TOO. Especially the “distrust” of customers and witholding proper customer service or not upholding return policies – just because they are paranoid! I dont deserve to be followed around, or not given the benefit of the doubt with a return, and I shouldnt have to push to get something delivered to my room in a hotel! And neither do other people. Its a matter of respect, regardless of how old we are.

    And I take particular solidarity with the “this is how we treat youth” conversation – bc I think unfortunately that it is TRUE that it is a youth-biased reaction that they are having – and its exactly how we SHOULDNT be treating our kids and young adults! What a better way to make them resent older people, shop owners, police, etc etc than by treating them like we dont trust them or respect them. People internalize that stuff and it does matter! In the end, I see it as another form of bullying.

  7. When my dad came back from Japan he couldn’t stop raving about the airports. “They have actual seating areas to put your shoes back on! And shoe horns! And people are polite!”

    I’ve worked in customer service, I know how exhausting it can be. I also know how one bad customer can completely ruin a day full of average to great customers. I try to put as much good karma out there as possible and it usually helps.

    1. I was just saying this about the airport in Paris. I’d never had such a LOVELY experience. There were booties to wear so you wouldn’t go barefoot when asked to take off your shoes, enough staff that there were never more than 4 people in any security line at once and complimentary iphone chargers! Then I got to LAX, where I was yelled at for being in the wrong line and for assuming a restroom would be available to me near bagage claim…

  8. This may not be a popular opinion but I’m in favor of drug testing by employers. (At least as an initial condition of employment, after that, you’re judged on performance.)

    Now that isn’t to say that an employer should probably look into the practices of their chosen testing facilities…they shouldn’t treat you like a drug user just because you’re being tested…

  9. ooh yes, I get you on the suspicion thing! It’s not the bad customer service, but more the assumption that everyone is a potential criminal that annoys me. In my city there’s a watch shop that has fancy watches, so fancy, apparently, that if you want to go into the shop, you have to press a doorbell to enter! When I was looking for an Engagement Watch for my fiance, I wanted to go in there but was too annoyed and intimidated at the same time…

    But the thing about airport security is that a lot of it isn’t done for rational reasons! All of the frisking, scanning, shoe examining etc isn’t actually helping to make air travel more secure. There was, I think, a book written about it, or a documentary…something along the lines of The Theatre of Security or something like that…makes me even more annoyed about the hoops a person has to jump through to get on a plane.

    For example, here in Australia, they make you go through the metal detector and are going to introduce full body scanners like you have in the US, but they don’t ask for ID (on domestic flights) to make sure you are the same person as your boarding pass says! And they don’t actually x-ray all the baggage, just samples…so making people do random explosives swab tests, not going to help.

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