I will admit I have a shorter fuse than most people I meet, but lately it seems to be something everyone wants to test. From people in stores I’m shopping in, to drivers around me on the road, to online interactions, what I once called willful ignorance, has now become arrogant ignorance. Two examples should show what I mean, if not I’m not going on as I don’t want a headache. First, a story that I’ve lived many times and has come up in stories from retail workers the world over. I know I’ve told stories from my many different retail jobs, from people not accepting a product was sold out, to many other “no, you’re wrong and I’m right” attitudes, but the penultimate story is one told by people not working in retail. Before I worked at the big box grocer I worked for before the job I’m in now, I would be stopped and asked where something is, or if I could reach something for someone. Having worked retail many times, I generally try to help, and only if I can’t do I apologize and say I don’t work there. Well, just before my parents’ home was completed, I went into town for some things for lunch. I was pushing a cart, holding a list, and wearing jeans and a jacket most often seen on construction workers, when I was physically stopped (lady grabbed my arm,) then ordered to stop and come help her. I told her I was not an employee, and there was likely one near the bakery. She scowled, said “I’ll have you fired” and pulled, to which I said “go for it, I’m not an employee of this company, at any location.” A few minutes later she comes stomping up with a manager, screaming about horrible service, points at me and says she wants me fired. The manager says he doesn’t know me and that I don’t work there, and she screams, literally screams, that she wants me fired. I then tell her, “well, you can call the University I’m working part time for while I’m a student, and ask that I be fired from the temporary groundskeeping crew,” only to get a “you did not tell me you don’t work here,” and another scowl as I told her I did, twice, and then walked away. Normally before this, the “can you help me find….” was just not looking at my clothes or not seeing the absence of a uniform, but this lady took it to the “I’m right, so you’re an employee, help me or you’ll be fired” attitude. I told her twice and she still dragged a manager over to demand I be fired from a store I’ve never worked for. The sheer arrogance in that boggles the mind, I was dressed far from what employees wear, had a shopping list, groceries in my cart, and so on, yet she decided I was being paid to be there so I was now required to drop everything and obey her, then she still got angry when proven wrong.
The second example is actually happening to me, repeatedly, right now. I’ve found several things I no longer use which I think might make good Christmas gifts, so I posted them in the Facebook marketplace, only to get most responses as “I’m interested in this item.” I realize it’s a canned response and easy to send, but several of those I reply to with “Still available” ask me questions I answered in the post. For example, I’m selling a car that is either a parts car or project/rebuild, and I listed everything that makes it such, only to get one person who said they were interested, then they asked what’s wrong with it. I responded “I’m at work, but all details are in the post” only to be told “I don’t read the posts, what’s wrong with it.” Yes, the person actually said they never read the posts, they demand I send them a personalized version. I simply said, “No, read it or don’t, I’m at work and not able or willing to retype all of my post.” This person then actually reported me for “reneging on a sale agreement,” saying I’d agreed to their price (they never offered an amount) and date/place to meet, but I then said “I changed my mind, I’m not selling to you.” I found out after they were told off, as Facebook can see the message history, but I was still floored. I told someone they could read what I posted, they basically said “no, treat me special,” and when I said no, they lied in a report to get me banned. Again, not just willful, but arrogant, ignorance.
How in the world did we go from a world where if you asked something and were told “I don’t know” and you moved on, to a world where not knowing all, and treating people as if they were god himself, is a capital crime? As I said, I’ve worked retail many times, and been asked to help a customer in a store, and they would smile or laugh when I wasn’t able to because I didn’t work there, and now we have people demanding non-employees be fired because they couldn’t help. Or people, when told they can read an ad or not, then going so far as to lie to get someone banned, over not being treated special. I work tech support now, and I get those calls where someone just isn’t getting it, and then the upset customer when I show a screenshot of what they aren’t getting, as they then complain I was “rude” or the like, which is why I am glad I work via online chat, as when they complain I was “rude” for showing them what they aren’t getting, I have a transcript. But that’s still the same thing in a way. I’m asked for help, I give help, they don’t like the answer, so I’m now “rude” or “ignored them.” This is not a hard concept, if someone tells you they can’t help, don’t demand they magically find a way to, if someone tells you that an ad for a car is all you need to read, don’t demand they retype it for you or you’ll have them banned. If you ask how to do something and get the answer, don’t act like you weren’t. The people who we hear from every day telling these same stories have the same rights as everyone else, just because you weren’t treated like royalty doesn’t give you the right to ruin a life.