Last weekend, I read in a blog posting and comment, a missive on people lacking manners. People who fail to look up and acknowledge the presence of others, who don't respond to a polite hello. Yes, I see it. And I am one of those old fashioned people who says Hello to strangers on the street, or when entering a business. It is nice when the gesture is returned but it seldom is.
The issue runs deeper. I had reason recently to send two emails, 23 hours apart to management at the Condo, about the shuttle bus service to the local subway station that we pay for as part of our condo fees. The second email was sent because there was no response to the first email. 24 hours after the second email there was a general announcement, but not really a reply to either email. There was no attempt to say, thank you for bringing this to our attention, or we are sorry the service has been a mess, or please go away and leave us alone. And these are people I pay the salary of as part of my condo fees.
Not every email deserves a response. I get angry follow up emails demanding a reply from people I don't know, trying to sell me something I am never going to buy, or inviting me to submit a proposal to speak at their overpriced conference on a topic that is totally unrelated to the work that I do.
But when there is a relationship, or the request is reasonably related to my work, I always try to reply and to do so promptly. Even if the reply is, "sorry, I don't have a clue and can't help you." I had one of those this week, and I offered three suggestions of where she might find a speaker with expertise on the subject.
In my professional career I have had interactive training in how to respond to a complaint, and how to truly apologize. I have had training in manners, service and civility. Is it missing? Have people stopped doing it? It is training that is interactive, not something that lends itself to virtual training. People need to be paired off and forced to practice, with trainers offering guidance.
Some of the unresponsiveness is people glued to their phones, or with their ears plugged with what ever dribble they are listening to instead of the people around them. When the deli has to put up a sign saying, if you are talking on the phone when your turn comes up, you go to the back of the line, people should get the message. Is hearing about your sisters, neighbors, nephews girlfriends sister having an affair with a married woman really more important than ordering your lunch? Hang up, and live, hang up and drive.
I was entering my local subway station one morning last week. The "Next Train" sign at the faregate said, leaving in 3 minutes. I can be on the platform in 2 minutes if I hustle. I was running halfway down the escalator to the platform not 60 seconds later when I hear "stand clear doors closing" and the train starting to pull out of the station. I let out an audible, sorry to the guy two steps behind me running to catch that same train, I said loud enough to be heard "#ucking Metro."
This prompted me to send a complaint message to the subway operator. This is not an isolated issue, I have the same problem every day at the station I enter for my trip home. I received an automated response, nothing more. Based on the complaint number I was only the 56th complaint that day. Certainly if they cared, they could send a personalized "we are very sorry and we will pass this along the people who can't seem to get the signs right. But then Metro Rail is not known for it's customer service, manners or civility. At least they have reduced the frequency of trains falling over, running into one another or catching fire.
A black and white cookie, a thin cake, frosted with a mix of frostings. Simple and delicious, a New York Classic. Mitchel, the next time you are here, I'll buy them.