Service of Being Ignored

March 23rd, 2023

Categories: Courtesy, Customer Service, Ignore, Power, Time, Waste Time

It’s no fun being ignored. I’m curious about the insensitivity of the people who enjoy doing it. If you’re young and handsome/beautiful, it might not happen to you. Those who do it I suspect feel a sense of power.

I delivered documents to a NYC court the other week. The halls were empty. There was a couple ahead of me in the room I needed to visit and they soon left. Nobody was behind me. Had it been a retail situation I’d have worried for the life of the place. The amount of real estate in this giant building on Chambers Street in Manhattan was breathtaking and the lack of activity–of humans in hallways–astonishing.

I waited at the window while the woman who would eventually help me stood about 12 feet behind the see-through plastic divider and chatted with a colleague to her left who was seated at a desk. Next, without moving, continuing to ignore me, she spoke with someone I couldn’t see in another room. It was as though I wasn’t there. Spooky. Not even an “I’ll be with you in a minute,” uttered from her lips. And she didn’t look busy.

Since I needed something from her, I kept silent.

I suppose this is the in-person version of the telephone customer service “I bet you can’t reach a human to help you.”

When you’re not in the driver’s seat, how do you handle being ignored? How do some have the temerity to discount the value of another person’s time?

Image by Marta Cuesta from Pixabay 

4 Responses to “Service of Being Ignored”

  1. Martha Tepper Takayama Said:

    Having been a government employee I unfortunately can confirm that this is not unusual behavior. It is a sort of cliquiness and also manifest a genuine disregard for others! I do know that in a government office trying to be assertive about the right to be taken care of is lethal. One can only be patient and deferential. In other situations I find this behavior equally obnoxious. I do think it is best to try to remain polite and civilized while trying to enlist the attention of the people ignoring me. It never is a pleasant situation and is just another indication of why good manners make life function more smoothly.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    My instinct told me not to tap fingers on the counter or even to cough to make my presence known. I’m tall and big enough that she saw me. She was facing me in fact. I guess if she has a gloomy job she gets pleasure in seeing how her attitude impacts others and how they react as a result. I feel sad for her. I got to return to my lovely life and she is stuck in her humdrum existence.

  3. lucrezia Said:

    Making a courteous pest of oneself often works. If there’s no one to approach, find someone. I call it playing mosquito. Everyone wants to get rid of non-stop buzzing, so help usually materializes. If that doesn’t work, keep buzzing. There’s always a way to take over the driver’s seat. Creativity and a basic enjoyment of fellow humans will bring about positive results more often than not.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    There are plenty of responsible and hard working civil servants. But they are a breed apart. Maybe because there are few if any incentives as in the for profit world.

    I’m glad I didn’t irritate that game playing woman at the court based on Martha’s comment.I might still be waiting.

    The follow up you describe is pretty much what life and business is about these days.

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