People from California are liberals who like to surf. New Yorkers move quickly, honk their horns and say what they think. People from South Dakota are polite and kind. Every state has one; the stereotypical persona that outsiders believe sum up the majority of the people living within it. True or untrue, the pondering of each state brings to mind a mental picture of the typical resident. As a South Dakota transplant I’d like to tell you there is a heavy shock when the assumption challenges reality.
This rant has been written in my head dozens of times over the course of the last few years and it is only now (after another incident yesterday) that I committed to sitting down and typing it out. For the record, I do not want to return to my home state. Sioux Falls has many benefits that I am in love with. We have awesome friends. I work for a fabulous company. My husband has an incredible job. I love our neighbors (okay- 93% of them). We found a super church, and yes, I even enjoy the snow. (Insert audible gasp here.) In some ways I feel like I live in a fantasy utopia and that is why the rudeness of some shoppers and clerks in this city is so baffling.
Out of respect for local businesses I will keep my lips shut about where the guilty clerks collect a paycheck (unless you are in my friendship circle. In that case, I’ll spill faster than a two year old carrying a gallon of milk). Let’s just say that “it” happens all over town and this is what I know. These six simple words can raise the quality of customer service in this city: “I can help who is next.” Not too hard, right? Here’s a typical experience and what I witnessed for perhaps the two hundredth time yesterday.
One checker is waiting on a customer and a line starts to develop. Of course, I am always “next” in line waiting patiently. A new cashier decides to open another register (thank you very much) and against all common sense announces, “I’m open over here!” The rude shoppers at the end of the line behind me (you know who you are) rush to the open register completely oblivious to following rules of decent common courtesy and etiquette (that is dutifully practiced in other “less kind” states).
Cashiers, how difficult is it to say, “I’ll take who is next in line”? Shoppers, do you really feel good about yourself for being the fastest line cutter and shaving three minutes off your visit at the expense of karma?
Yes, I’ve complained to customer service. The usual response is, “We are short staffed” or “That cashier is new.” I have even had moments of extreme personal bravery where I address the line cutter and say, “You weren’t next.” One elderly line cutter responded to this statement by answering, “But I’m in a hurry.” Aren’t we all? Despite all of my verbal complaints, nothing has changed. Perhaps- just perhaps- writing it down this time will help… until it happens again.