Years ago, I read an essay that appeared on NPR about being nice to the pizza guy. Given we are now in the season of good will toward all, it bears remembering that we need to be nice to people we might not consciously notice.
So many people cross our paths every day, some more recognized than others. Think about who all knows your daily habits. Your neighbors, of course, are likely to know when you are home or not. They may not say anything about your comings and goings, but they know. And if you ever needed help with something, one of them would come over.
If you get your mail delivered rather than going to a postal box, the letter carrier knows your habits almost as much as you do. She knows what catalogs you get, where you buy things (think a lot of Amazon), when you get cards and letters. And you need to let the post office know if you’re going to be out of town for a while so it can hold your mail. The same holds true for the newspaper. In the old-old days, you had milk delivered, but that hasn’t happened in a very long time.
More people are out in stores and restaurants at this time of the year. Waitresses work longer hours. They deserve smiles, understanding, and tips for what they do. Your friendly barista may be stressed because more people want fancy, noisy coffees. Be patient. He’s doing the best he can. His machines can only make so many lattes at the same time. And the mail carrier, who cannot accept gifts, deserves letters of support to her supervisor. When the mail loads double and triple, and mail is often late, all the more reason to let management know you notice what a good job she’s doing.
What happens when service isn’t delivered with a smile, when your food arrives late and cold? Is it your right to rip the person a new one? Never, in my opinion. But if you want to politely point out that something isn’t to your liking, that’s your call. If the spirit of the season moves you, maybe you keep your complaints inside just this once. Likely as not, your server knows things aren’t perfect. Maybe just let it go.
And what about that pizza guy? The one who delivers your pizza to your door. Hot. In his own car. Using his own gas. For him, find a little extra thanks, a little extra tip, and a huge smile. He’s working hard.