Respecting Everyone’s Time

Yesterday I wrote a post that was directed at CMO types, and social media managers, but a lot of bloggers added a lot to the discussion in the comments. In my post I tried to explain why no one should want to use a Brand Ambassador that is willing to work for free. I assert that they have slightly less value than an intern, and are capable of doing an awful lot of harm.

In the comments a lot of bloggers (almost all of whom I know and enjoy) talked about how offensive it is to be asked to work for free.

Yes.

Just Yes.

I had a delightful morning. Since Jane is away at camp for the week, and Alexander is at a specialty camp that lasts from nine to five, I found myself with more free time than I’ve had in a dozen years. Siezing the moment I dropped Alexander off at camp, and went for a 45 minute hike. I gulped down some water and went to a spectacular Yoga Class. I wasn’t done pampering myself until noon. Amazing, right? At noon I headed off to the grocery store, and began my day.

After filling up my cart, I wound my way to the deli counter for some turkey, I grabbed a number. It was 55. After waiting for a clerk to help me I saw a very nicely turned out woman grab a number and wave down a clerk to get a deli tray that she had pre-ordered.

“Excuse me,” I interrupted their conversation, “I’ve been waiting a while, and I’m pretty sure I’m next.”

“Yes, well, I’m just picking up a pre-order it will only take a moment.” She smiled at me authoritatively.

“Yes, well, I’m just picking up some things, and I need to get on with MY day. I’m actually very busy too.” And I pointed to the place on my wrist where one might wear a watch.

The clerk asked each of us which number we were holding, took my order and apologized profusely.

The lady turned the other way, and absolutely refused to so much as glance my direction. She was embarrassed, as well she ought to have been. Her behavior was embarrassing.

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Comments 8

  1. Oh my gosh that such a prime example of the fact that so many people don’t get that “this will take just a few minutes” really means “it will take a few minutes of your time, which I don’t value or respect at all.”

    So glad you stood up for yourself there Jessica. That woman should be embarrassed.

    Also really glad the clerk apologized and helped you.

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  3. Well done with the deli line-cutter.

    And I agree – it IS offensive to be asked to work for free. When I had no platform, no one came emailing. I put in a lot of work, and now I get the contacts. Clearly, they think that I am worth contacting, so let’s respect the effort I put in every day to do this.

  4. I have been known to do the exact same thing that you did at the deli counter. I think that as long as your do it tactfully, with a hint of politeness and a dash of sass, there is nothing wrong with calling out someone who is cutting in line and not respecting your time.

  5. I did something similar to the action of the woman you described, though in a slightly different situation. Was at Pike Place Market at Beechers, where you can watch them make their Flagship cheddar while you eat the best mac and cheese ever made. Anyway, a single group of three or so tourists were in line but not at the register looking indecisively at the menu. I just wanted a drink from cooler and had cash and went to the register a bit sheepishly and was sternly sent to the back of the line to wait while they made up their minds. I was really embarrassed. Apparently I misread the situation. My point? No one is perfect. People make mistakes. Sometimes impatience/stress gets the best of us. The fact that the woman was embarrassed shows that she probably felt bad and realized her error. She’s probably human like the rest of us.

  6. I have mixed feelings about Jessica’s situation — and Amber’s, too.

    If the deli offers ordering by phone/fax/email/web, they should have a pick-up section so that people who’ve ordered can pickup, pay, and go. Lots of places have a system like this so that no one has to wait as long.

    Jessica’s principle seems right to me — she got her number and should be served in the order of the number. The lady’s grabbing a number herself is a tacit agreement to the validity of the number system at the deli. If she gets they don’t have a pick-up system, she shouldn’t try to jump the crappy system they have in place or if she decides to make up her own system, she shouldn’t argue with the person who takes umbrage who’s following the system.

    For Amber’s situation, I’m not sure exactly what the cheddar and cashier situation was. Here in LA, there’s a restaurant called Tender Greens which, similar to the Chipotle chain, features a big menu poster by the staffed ordering kios and people ordering and going through the line as in a cafateria and paying at the cashier at the end.

    It’s very popular and several times I’ve waited while someone at the front of the line stood there, debating and discussing all the menu options. Those people aren’t entitled to hold up the line for minutes out of courtesy. Once I asked someone, “are you in line?” and then they made me wait two more minutes. The next time the situation repeated itself I simply said, “I’m ready to order right now if you’re still deciding” and happily passed the indecisive person without incident.

    Businesses should evolve a system and a set of practices for making the wait the shortest for everyone.

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