Just Doing Their Jobs

Here’s a nifty way to be a little nicer in the world and in turn, make situations a little better: don’t get angry at people who are doing their jobs.

I am a manager at my day job and a father all of the time. A lesson that I have been steadily trying to teach my son is to focus on what your job is, not on what others are supposed to be doing. It’s a tricky lesson to teach. I tell him “it’s daddy’s job to worry about what other people are doing,” which is true… as a parent and in my day job. Outside of that, it isn’t my responsibility to call people out and tell them how to do their job.

As we all go through the day, we react to how we are treated. In many cases it is an interaction with someone doing their job. We get pissed at the cop who pulled us over. We are frustrated at the cashier who isn’t allowed to let you return your merchandise. And we are furious with the TSA agents as we meander through a maze of hell at the airport. We react to them doing their job when it’s their job, not them, that is making our experience a miserable one.

It should be noted that there is a distinct difference between a person doing their job and a person being an asshole while doing their job. The latter is another topic that I will discuss in another post.

But that isn’t to say that how you respond to the TSA agent as they frisk you might influence how they treat you and others after you. You can choose to be kind, happy, or even just stoic and in any of those three responses, you will leave a little happier than had you allowed frustration or anger show. Remember: it isn’t that particular agent (or cashier or whatever person doing their job). If it wasn’t that person, it’d be another person. The fact that their is a person occupying a position is a condition that neither you or the person in it can truly control. Expounding on that, the individual had a choice to fill the position, but if it wasn’t that person, it’d be someone else.

So cut them some slack.

Let them do their job how they need to do it. Don’t comment negatively. Ask them how their day is going, whether you care or not and at least pretend to care. Smile.

What is going on may really suck. It might suck so damn bad that you want to cry. Our tendency is to blame the person, who has no idea your circumstances just as you don’t know theirs. Avoid that urge and mind your tongue. Keep as happy as you can until you move beyond that point, and maybe, just perhaps, you may find that your day goes a little better too.

Don’t be a dick (in the words of Wil Wheaton).

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