Be Nice

By Joe Rector

I arrived at the Knox County Clerk’s office about five minutes before it opened. A man in front of me said the last time he completed this chore, he was number 50 in line. However, at that early hour, I walked in and immediately met one of the workers there. Her cheery voice and kind attitude made renewing my tags easy and pleasant. The fact is that we need more of this kind of behavior in our world.
The clerk’s employee unarms visitors with her friendly demeanor. In return, others relax and return the kindness. Everyday, those workers at that office face throngs of drivers who want to renew licenses or registration stickers. The job demands patience and efficiency. For them to be kind also to folks, especially the ones who are more than a bit annoyed by the wait, is a credit to them. I didn’t get the name of the woman at the Cedar Bluff office, but if she sees this column, I want to make sure to thank her for being nice.
Fast food businesses are other places filled with stress on employees. Hungry customers are in a hurry to get their food and eat it or take it home to families. True, sometimes those workers at the businesses have no regard for customers and never worry that the line through the drive-thru wraps around the building. However, most of the folks on that side of the counter are concerned about processing orders as quickly as possible. We who are ordering food might make the day a bit easier for them by being nice. That means saying thank you and foregoing our first instincts to tear into a teenager for having to wait a long time for a burger, order of fries, and drink.
Nothing tests the limits of our temper as does a phone call to a major corporation. Whether the help is with our cable, computer, or health plan, most customers fume when the first thing they hear is a recording. If the wait is long, company representatives are in trouble when they finally answer calls. Our first tendencies are to blast workers for failing to answer quicker. Never mind that the phone lines are jammed with customers; we want help now. A kind person on the other end can quickly diffuse angry customers. If that person can quickly take care of our problems or questions, we are a bit stunned. In the end, we change our tunes and become kinder, gentler people.
Now, I’m the first to admit that my patience wears thin quicker than most people, and I’ve been a surly S.O.B. at times. However, when people are automatically pleasant, I become a calmer person as well. In fact, I enjoy talking with the worker and tell her how much I appreciate the kindness and help. That’s the way the world should be. More consideration for others makes everyone feel a bit better about life. One thing is for sure: we need to remember what our parents told us when we were children—be nice!

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