“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.” – Henry James
Working at a worldwide fast food restaurant for the last four years has made me realize how far a little common courtesy and kindness can go. Every day I am amazed at the ability of a mother in a minivan with her three children in the back to feel the need to exert her miniscule power over a lowly crew member. Okay, maybe she was right. I put nine ice cubes in her coffee instead of the eight she requested or the workers in the back accidentally let one little slice of onion slip onto her burger. But did she really need to scream at me and call me a degenerate idiot? If working fast food has taught me anything, it is to be kind. It really is amazing how many more flies you can catch with honey than vinegar (perhaps I shouldn’t reference flies and fast food in the same sentence). I think this rings true in all aspects of life; what is so hard about just being kind?
It is truly astonishing the things that people will do when they feel as if they are more powerful than another person. But power does not mean you have the right to degrade a fellow human being, because after all, we all are humans here. There’s a saying that goes “you can know the character of a man not by how he treats his equals, but how he treats those beneath him.” I find this shockingly true more often than not, especially in my current line of work. At my job, there is a man that comes in daily that tells me I look lovely. In these simple, kind (and more or less untrue, my uniform is certainly less than flattering) words, he makes me smile. This man restores my faith in humanity that is challenged daily by belligerent customers yelling about onions and ice cubes. Such a simple act brings me such immense joy.
The funny thing about power is that the people below have it as well. More often than not, I attempt to make the customer’s lives at my work as easy as possible and I try to make their order as cheap and fresh as possible. It is my job to be a friendly face for my place of employment and yelling at me does not help anyone. Please, don’t give your bad day to someone else. You won’t feel any less miserable knowing that you have made someone else just as unhappy. Misery loves company but company does not reciprocate. In my life, I find that you will find yourself very alone and unhappy if you spread misery rather than kindness. Some people take kindness and courtesy for granted, but I am finding it rarer and rarer in my life. I implore you, be kind. It’s easy and fulfilling.