|Jinny has been very ill and is currently undergoing rehabilitation in a Bangor facility so she will not be writing her article for awhile. She is making excellent progress and hopes to be able to return to writing her column in the near future... Adele.
Let's face it, the world being what it is right now, there are more than a few gigantic issues about which we are all concerned most of the time, along with some only slightly less gargantuan issues that seem to crop up every day that just add to the stress. It is times like these that cause me to be more than usually aggravated by the smaller issues that pretty much annoy me all the time.
I had to go to a bank that was not my own the other day and my teller, a lovely and pleasant young lady, happened to be obviously in the family way. I commented to her, with sympathy that can only be shared by another woman who has lived through the experience, that she looked somewhat tired. She told me that she was very tired because it was exhausting having to spend all day standing. I was horrified.
“Don't they give you a stool or something?” I asked.
She told me that one of the major requirements of a bank teller was that you remain standing when doing your telling thing. This is something that has always bothered me. Who decided that standing all day on one's feet in one position was some kind of indication of professionalism? I'll tell you who, the guys in the offices who sit on their backsides all day. The powerful men and women in the plush corner offices sitting on thickly padded, expensive ergonomic chairs while gazing out their windows and thinking up ways to invest other people's money in risky ways. I have never understood how having a poor teller sitting on a comfortable high stool could possibly make my banking experience less professional or enjoyable. I doubt if a seated teller would cause me to worry about a bank's solvency or stability. Being seated while reading the newspaper might do it though.
I have always felt the same way about cashiers in stores, particularly grocery stores. My daughter worked in a grocery store when she was in high school and suffered with excruciating back and foot pain from standing at a register all day, as did many of her co-workers. Maybe I'm all alone in this, but I judge my cashier by his or her efficiency and friendliness, not whether or not they are standing at attention properly.
Why do we find it necessary to torture people who are already working at low-paying jobs where they frequently must deal with unpleasant and abusive people? Shouldn't that be enough torture? It must go back to the idea of 'service' that has been around since the first guy who figured out that you can make someone else wait on you. In Rome, where slavery was as common as togas, the slave who had the job of answering the door to visitors wore a kind of neck or ankle shackle and chain attached to a post at the door. Originally, I thought that this practice must have been based on the assumption that the slave would run away or something, but I read somewhere that it was more some kind of unfathomable symbol of status in Roman households. Often, the slave was not actually chained to the door and not able to move, the chain was easily removed in case the rich homeowner needed help bringing in the dog or fending off thieves. It was all for show.
Into the 20th century servants who were waiting on people were required to stand out of the way against a wall, (not leaning on it, of course), for the entire duration of a 14 course meal while their employers wined and dined. They had to be ready to leap into action in case someone needed another shrimp fork. This would have been OK if they had been paid a decent wage and not stuck in tiny cubicles in freezing or oven-like attics to live. I don't know for sure, but I imagine that serving the Queen and her guests in Buckingham Palace is probably very much the same, although I bet they are paid a good wage, not forced to live in horrid conditions, and take some pride in what they do.
I'm not a person who is terribly comfortable being waited upon. I am always grateful for service, but I am paranoid about being the kind of person who behaves as if I expect it. To me, it is more about attitude than anything else. I have been a cashier and a waitress and a salesperson in my life and I have prided myself on providing excellent service while maintaining my dignity at all times. In my mind it is an exchange of good manners, one person offers the service politely and the other receives it politely. I don't need people to be uncomfortable or in pain or in danger of injury in order to feel that I have received good service, I just need them to be pleasant to deal with and helpful. I am not someone who can find comfort in someone else's discomfort.
I was tired when I came home the other night; my bad knee from a racquetball injury was killing me for some reason and my lower back hurt from compensating for it all day. I couldn't help but thing of the poor teller and how she must feel every night after work. All things considered, I think I would have had a far better banking experience if she had served me sitting down and I know that it would have made me feel better about the bank where she worked. Considering the banking situation in the world right now, they could use a little humanizing public relations. Get the pregnant teller a stool.