Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Are you a Jerk to the Invisible People in Office Buildings?

NYC: Empire State Building
NYC: Empire State Building (Photo credit: wallyg)
I work in a tall building in Atlanta. I also travel a lot and go into and out of of tall buildings. My personality is such that I almost always smile, greet, and say hello to those who make those big buildings run. You know the people - the security person at the door, the folks who clean the bathrooms, the company that cleans offices. Because I speak spanish (but don't "look" it) I almost always surprise a hispanic person cleaning during the day or evening.

A simple hello, or holding the door for one of them, or a smile is just the decent thing to do.

Then you have the self important assholes.

I see these types a lot - are you one of them? This morning I used the service elevator, loaded with workers. A guy in a suit, on the phone, pushed his way in. Became angry when his suit brushed up against a stationary moving cart. He snarled something, all the while on his phone. He exited, and all was quiet. I said "pendejo" after he left, and the folks started laughing and smiling. The folks on that elevator were invisible to the asshole, until he felt annoyed.

It's not very hard to do the simple things for the people around you.To me, how a stranger treats someone like the cleaning people - in that brief snapshot of time - tells me a lot of what that person is usually about.

So I watched all of this unfold on some non descript day. I was in jeans and a golf shirt, not the usual business wear. I saw three people decide that each didn't want to hold the elevator for a worker. I saw folks decide that it was not worth the effort to hold the door open for a person with a cleaning cart. I saw a guy be a total asshole to a diminutive person who was from Uruguay ( I asked her where she was from after he left- her name is Clara and she has 2 kids in summer school).    I even saw a woman dressed to the nines look me up and down, disapprovingly because I "appeared" to be just a worker.

I know that for many people each day is a battle. I know it's hard sometimes to be polite, but making someone else feel as if she is a human with dignity, and worth acknowleding, if even just for a brief second, is the right thing to do. Best of all, it's free.