Service of What’s Going On? We Were Nice to One Another for a While

July 19th, 2021

Categories: Anger, Apartment Living, Customer Service, Impatience, Pandemic, Restaurant, Temper, War

Image by Methawee Krasaeden from Pixabay

Certain friends would reprimand me when I complained about service. They’d say, “The person is paid so little. What can you expect?” That was never a viable excuse for me. I don’t think that clients or customers should be penalized for that reason.

Today there’s a new excuse for bad behavior or flaunting the rules. Some say “Oh, but the poor things have been cooped up so long because of the pandemic.” So? I should be put in danger or yelled at because somebody is sick of social distancing or wearing a mask and is asked to do so? I feel no pity. And there’s another difference: The perpetrators of grouch and grump are customers.

We are so spoiled. If this was a traditional war would these people go for a stroll during bombing while whining that they’d had enough of being stuck in a basement or subway platform? This is a kind of war–against a silent enemy we can’t see.

We’ve recently seen fisticuffs over mask-wearing on national news between passengers on planes.

Apt Cape Cod friend’s comment on the restaurant’s Facebook page: “Please let your staff know that there are more nice people in the world than not-so-nice ones! Jocelyn”

Neil Vigdor wrote about “The owners of Apt Cape Cod, a farm-to-table restaurant in Brewster, Mass., [that] drew a line in the sand against customers’ rude behavior since being allowed to fully reopen.” In his New York Times article he reported “The verbal abuse from rude customers got so bad, the owners of one farm-to-table restaurant on Cape Cod said that some of their employees cried.” All one waitress had done was to tell a customer that the restaurant wasn’t yet open so she couldn’t submit his takeout order. He blew his top.

Vigdor wrote: “So Ms. Felt Castellano and her spouse, Regina Felt Castellano, who is also the head chef and co-owner, announced on Facebook that the restaurant would close for part of that same day to treat the restaurant’s employees to a ‘day of kindness.'”

The attitude is spreading like a rash. Here’s an example of what another industry is faced with. An excerpt of a comment by Liese Swann on Apt Cape Cod’s Facebook page follows: “My spouse works in home improvement retail, part of management. The stories he comes home with now are simply unreal. He hung up the phone on one abusive customer, and his staff looked at him wide-eyed and said “We can do that?” They were mightily cheered when he said yes. Some of these customers threaten to call the state AG’s office because the manufacturer can’t supply their order fast enough! As soon as that phrase comes out of their mouths, management has no choice but to cut off the conversation and refuse their calls…..they cannot comprehend that their kitchen cabinets or new washer and dryer set simply can’t be conjured up out of thin air. And they throw temper tantrums at people who have no control over manufacturing and shipping. It’s completely unacceptable.”

Nasty bares its ugly teeth where I live too.  I was sad to learn that tenants in my apartment building are acting badly. We had been so good for so long!

We have received almost daily notices from building management requesting that we please continue to wear masks in public spaces because of the rampant Delta Covid-19 variant that, wrote the manager, is up 23 percent in our neighborhood. Another reason he gave: so many tenants travel internationally. [He didn’t mention our proximity to a major NYC hospital and its many specialty satellites.] In one reminder the manager wrote: “Some residents have cursed at others for asking them to comply. This behavior is unacceptable. We all want to feel safe.”

Are people continuing to keep their cool where your life takes you or have you begun to see fraying at the seams of good behavior? Do you excuse the short-tempered people because Covid 19 has confined them and they are fed up? What else do you think is going on?

Image by klimkin from Pixabay


15 Responses to “Service of What’s Going On? We Were Nice to One Another for a While”

  1. Helen Rabinovitz Said:

    I think the people who are being rude and abusive always had it in them to be rude and abusive. Just that now they think they’re entitled to be that way. They seem to forget that the staff taking care of them was also in quarantine and had no jobs for a long time. Customers and clients who act inappropriately don’t deserve service at all. Grow up people and use the manners your parents taught you!

  2. Joshua Micheal Cintrón Said:

    Joshua on Facebook:

    There’s always been a disrespect toward people in custom service, but restaurant workers really get it hard, especially here in the city. A part of it is people who do have frayed nerves from COVID, a part of it is people who have always have frayed nerves, and then you’ll have the crowd who have always felt a sense of entitlement and an open disdain to anyone that has the job to “serve” them. *shrugs* Its demoralizing, honestly

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Agree–though clearly some didn’t listen to their parents or don’t recognize that the person they deal with makes NONE of the decisions that impact them. If the kitchen is slow because a cook called in sick it’s not the waitstaff’s fault. If a bank makes a mistake it’s not the fault of customer service. I land hard on poor service and feel equally disappointed and irritated by nasty customers/clients.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    All valid points but the attitude seems to cross country these days like a rash! The restaurant example in my post is on Cape Cod. Nasty airline passengers all over the place.

    I wince when I sense disrespect of waitstaff by my dining companion. I don’t condone haughty behavior towards retail staff either.

    But I sense it’s worse since doors closed for a year have opened. I fear we are spoiled. We don’t know what deprivation is.

  5. Joshua Micheal Cintrón Said:

    Josh on Facebook. Agreed 100%. Its a shame. A lot of us are nice only when there’s some sort of “trend” to do it.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    The irony is I think—no proof—that treating people with respect often gets the customer the bigger piece of pie or an extra effort to find the item he/she wants. I KNOW I feel better when an exchange with a stranger is friendly. I love to make telephone customer service people giggle even if I’m angry as a hornet at their employer.

  7. ASK Said:

    To Ms. Rabinowitz’s point about good manners: I’m not sure they are being taught at home anymore, or anywere else for that matter.

    I find that treating people with respect and being polite are best. It does encourage service personnel to be more helpful. Recently I complained about interest charges on a credit card that I felt were undeserved, pointing out that while rates on savings accounts are next to zero, the credit card companies had not similarly lowered their rates. The service rep asked me what would make me happy. Somewhat cheerfully, I said,”Make the interest charges go away…” I heard a click, then she said, “That’s it; they’re gone.” I wish all service dilemmas could be resolved so happily…

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    What a wonderful outcome! Hooray for that service rep!

    As for manners being taught, it’s hard to tell. Some young people have them; others not. I was always amazed at how few bright college students and high school students applying for scholarships in the low five figures couldn’t manage an emailed “TX” after a telephone interview. While thanking may be a concept left to dinosaurs, if we had a tie between two students the one that did thank won the scholarship.

  9. Debbie Kunen Said:

    Debbie on Facebook: Catch more flies with honey. Some things are just true.

  10. lucrezia Said:

    There will always be good people as well as sourballs, perhaps a few more of the latter because of difficult times. Usually the figures even out, but it’s not recognized because it’s poor behavior grabbing the headlines.

  11. Jeanne Byington Said:


    The email from my apartment building manager was what inspired this post. I’ve lived here 2.5 years and have never before read about nasty interactions between tenants. It would not earn a headline, but appears to represent a prevalent attitude that I hope doesn’t really exist.

  12. lucrezia Said:

    A weekly magazine has a column called “It wasn’t all bad.” In it are two to three shorts of those heavily involved in making things better, either for their neighbors or society. They don’t give up. Giving up on others is akin to giving up on oneself — neither the best nor the healthiest policy! PS Nastiness and ill will are not going away, but squashing these tendencies can even save lives, so up and at ’em!

  13. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I found the apparent switch of bad attitude from server to customer worthy of note. Most of the people I know are respectful of others. If my post or responses appear to encourage anyone to give up on anyone I need to be more careful in future efforts. I try to share a verbal snapshot of my observations often buttressed by others’ experiences. When strangers treat each other badly, whether customer or vendor, it has always bothered me. A bus driver yelled at one of my parents when I was young and it frightened me and I never forgot it.

  14. MarthaTakayama Said:

    l am sorry to say that these days I am constantly surprised and saddened by unexpectedly rude and thoughtless behavior. It is prevalent everywhere. My most recent example was during a visit to two of senior living properties that my husband went to visit/ We were not given information in a forthright manner,and there were constant obnoxious references to “high end” everythings. The Director of Marketing who knew we had come by taxi sort of grudgingly took us to the second property and announced that we could walk home from there! I found her behavior callous, thoughtless and down right rude. I wondered why she thought herself suited for her position. On the other hand when a civil servant for our seniotmass transit program is kind and reassuring when scheduling a trip or the drivers are gracious and solicitous, I am overwhelmed with gratitude and make sure I acknowledge them. I do think that part of the rude behavior that is so prevalent id due to people generally having inflated notions of their own importance, When will it pass?

  15. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Clearly this is an instance of bad behavior and service with the old fashioned dynamic. The marketing person dealing with you is in the wrong job that’s for sure. Imagine what it would be like living in this place if sales is so ornery and mean.

    Good for the senior transit staff!

    When will nasty pass? Only when people realize how much better their life is when they make someone smile–not angry.

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