Saturday, November 25, 2006

How Quickly We Forget

Thanksgiving I worked. Yesterday (Friday) I worked. I had my candidacy proposal due by midnight Friday/Saturday (after much negotiation with Dr. Hari). Admittedly I put it on the back burner a little bit. I had a lot of deadlines this past week and I knew I could talk Dr. Hari into just about anything. Still, I worked my booty off on Thanksgiving and that sucked. But I finished. Dr. Hari recommended a roughly 30 page candidacy proposal in which I write a brief summary of my masters' work, a moderately detailed summary of the work I've done since I was awarded my masters' degree and a detailed plan of what I wish to accomplish before I get my Ph.D. Last night at 10 pm I emailed him my 40(!) page document and then went to bed for 12 hours. Next Tuesday I have to present this work to my Ph.D. committe in an hour long closed-door presentation. At that point, I will no longer be a grad student. I will be a Ph.D. candidate. I'm excited and nervous. I'm nervous because I will be the one talking to six professors that know a lot more than I do. I'm excited because I love my reearch and always enjoy the opportunity to share it. I realize that makes me a big dork.

Friday I took a short break to get some materials from the lab and then go to Panera to bring home some lunch. I was expecting it to be pretty busy what with everyone being out and about. When I walked in I headed straight to the register (1/2 Fandago salad and a bowl of garden vegetable soup, I didn't need to look at the menu). There was one person working the register and one person placing an order. I stepped out of the way and patiently waited, pleasantly surprised at how slow it was. While I was waiting a woman got in line behind me with a little boy. I think the woman placing the order mucst have ordered something from the bakery as well. The cashier made eye contact with me, put up a finger signaling "Give me a minute" and I smiled and nodded. No problemo. The woman behind me, however, was quite upset by this development.

"Don't they know it's the day after Thanksgiving?!" she said loudly. I ignored her.

"Isn't there anyone else to work the register?!"

I turned and looked at her, noticing there were a couple more people in line. The little boy was getting antsy, tugging on her shirt and whining.

"She said she'd be right back." I said firmly in case the woman didn't understand what was going on.

"I don't care! There should someone else taking orders! Get the manager up here!"

At this time the initial cashier came back looking weary and gestured for me to approach the register. In the meantime, the woman behind me was still caryying on.

"I mean, geez! Aren't there more people here? It's the day after Thankgiving!"

The cashier turned to me and said under her breath, "And how quickly we forget to be thankful..."

I smiled knowlingly and apologized to her for having to deal with that crap. She thanked me and we proceeded to do business.

Besides displaying an utter lack of class, this woman in line reminded me of a vow I made about ten years ago. In high school and part of college I used to work at a garden center in suburban Minneapolis where I was verbally abused on a regular basis by retired people and housewives who felt they had nothing better to do than display their authority over high school students. I vowed that no matter if I was a stay at home mom, a doctor, a lawyer or the president of the United States I was going to treat people in the service industry with respect. I know what it's like to have a shitty job that doesn't pay well. I know what it's like to be on your feet between 8 and 12 hours in a day and get no appreciation. When it's busy and people are impatient and more than willing to take their frustrations out on the faceless person behind the register.

And it wasn't until the day AFTER thanksgiving this year until I remembered to stop and think about it. I was taking a break from a job I love. I was working from home with my own little cat family while my dear husband at work periodically sent me text messages reminding me how much I am loved. What did I do to desereve this?


mom said...

as a person who works for the biggest county hospital in minnesota i applaud your vow to treat people waiting on you with respect. i certainly don't feel underpaid, but i often times feel under appreciated. it isn't the amount of money that you make in a job, it's how you're treated. we were at a sports bar last night and the waitress was being verbally abused by another table. when we paid our check i tipped her a little extra (and i'm a generous tipper!) when she asked if i needed change and said no she said are you sure? i said i'm sorry, sometimes your job really sucks. she said yeah it does but what makes it okay is when i see customers like you come in... it made feel okay.....

greensunflower said...

How exciting PhD(c). I can only hope. You are there doin' it.

lefty_grrrl said...

You rock. I wish more people treated service workers like human beings.

Runner Girl FL said...

You deserve it because you do treat the people in the service industries with respect.

Nice begets nice....grace begets grace.

It has to be true.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I realize this comment is not about this post but I have a question for you... Since I know you are a cat lover and have recently rescued several of the ally cats around your apartment I was hoping you would have some advice for me. I just adopted 2 street cats from a shelter about a 3 hours drive from my house. I was told by the lady at the shelter that the one cat is quite fiesty and may need a mild sedative to make the drive home comfortably. I have tried contacting vets in my area but they are reluctant to give advice without first seeing the cat. Do you have any suggestions about how to make the drive home more comfortable for my new cat?
Thanks, Kerrie

magnetbabe said...

Hey Kerrie!
I understand why you and the local vets might be wary of giving any sort of sedative to the cat sight unseen. Here's what I would suggest. Line the cat carrier with comfy blankets and sprinkle some catnip in there, it is a natural sort of sedative. If it already has a blanky at the shelter try to take that one since it will smell like him/her. Also, I STRONGLY suggest putting an additional sheet or towel over the carrier so that the cat is not aware of its surroundings. When I trap and keep the feral kitties for a few days I always keep them covered and that seems to stop them from freaking out too much. I hope this helps and I applaud you for adopting from a street cat shelter, especially knowing one of them might be a little difficult. Let me know how it goes!

Scott said...

I always treat everybody that waits on me with respect. I don't understand why anyone would do otherwise. Actually, that's not true; I do understand it. It's the same concept as one applies when beating a dog to vent frustration. These people have no choice but to take the bullshit being dished for fear of losing their job, and the bullies know it and take full advantage. It's disgusting.

minnesoablue said...

Being a nurse, I more often than not see people at their very worst behavior, whether it be due to pain, anxiety, or just because they are who they are. Many times I have wanted to confront them and then I realize that it is not me personally that they are rude to but rather the circumstances they find themselves in. And then there are the rare occassions when I am thanked for my services and apologies are given! It tends to make me feel that indeed all is right with the world again