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By Beth Bear
Did you know that World Kindness Day is this Saturday, Nov. 13? World Kindness Day is a global day that promotes the importance of being kind to each other, to yourself, and to the world. It feels like kindness is more important than ever these days as we struggle to understand our ever-changing world.
My family went into a restaurant this weekend for dinner where two exhausted servers were busily clearing tables and taking orders. They apologized as soon as we came in and told us “There is at least an hour wait for food.” A disclaimer at the bottom of the menu from the owner said that they were short-staffed and doing their very best to keep their doors open for regular hours. “It’s been like this all day,” the waitress responded with a heavy sigh.
This week I visited a cellular phone shop where one employee was hurrying to serve a customer, while five other customers were waiting. I asked if there might be a better, less busy time for me to come back. The employee said, “It’s just me today, so uh, I’m not really sure if there will be a good time.”
The thing that struck me about the above two scenarios is that while the employees were polite, professional, and clearly doing everything within their power to provide their services in a timely manner, the customers around them were sullen. Looks of unhappiness and impatience were the norm, and complaints regarding the service were common.
Almost everywhere I go, I see ‘help wanted’ signs. Businesses are short staffed, and they know it. What’s more, they often can’t get basic supplies, like straws and to-go containers. The prices of their wholesale goods are surging, and they are faced with difficult decisions about maintaining their profit margins or raising their prices. Ask any business owner, and I bet he or she will tell you that they are working through some challenge to keep their doors open.
Our labor shortages and supply chain issues are complex and won’t be fixed overnight. But you know what we can do? Right now? We can be kind and understanding to the employees and businesses who are doing their very best to serve us despite these struggles. If you’re going to a restaurant, be prepared to be patient, and tip your server well. Remember that the business owner is as frustrated as you are that your item is out of stock or backordered.
So please, next time you’re out and things aren’t going quite your way, remember that your reaction has an impact, and choose a positive one. Act kinder and people will act kinder in return. World Kindness Day is a wonderful reminder of the importance of kindness, but this is a choice that we can and should make year round.