Yesterday I walked across the street to CVS and was surprised to see my local ice cream shop was open. It was one of the first businesses to temporarily shut down in my neighborhood, so was kinda surprised they were also the first to reopen. When I strolled by I didn’t see anyone inside waiting in line. Then I heard about this ice cream store in Cape Cod, “Polar Cave Ice Cream Parlour,” that reopened only to shut down cause they were being mobbed by customers.
“One of my best workers quit yesterday at the end of her shift, she stuck it through her shift,” Lawrence told Boston 25 News. “But the words she was called and the language, you wouldn’t even say in a men’s locker room. And to say it to a 17-year-old kid, they should be ashamed of themselves.” (USA Today)
Then in Pennsylvania at a Red Lobster, after hours of waiting in a line out the door, customers were turned away due to the overwhelming amount of people trying to get their take out orders, and customers were also said to be rude and unruly.
When I look at these two back to back episodes, I begin to wonder how we will treat one another when things start to reopen. Some people think that this stay at home experience will allow us to have a reset button which will allow us to reenter civilization with more kindness and compassion. Then you see people on the other end of the spectrum going to get an ice-cream cone and being so offensive that the store had to shut its doors.
But the real question is not if I will leave the house, but will I go stand in line to get ice-cream and if I do and people are obnoxious will I stay in line? Absolutely not. It has been hard enough to keep my cool when faced with people that don’t honor social distancing and don’t wear a mask, so I can’t imagine how I would respond to people acting out and treating employees poorly in the process.
Every time I go to my grocery store or pharmacy I always thank the employee for their service. I consider our pandemic to be an invisible war and anyone that is on the front lines is similar to being a soldier. It’s going to be interesting to see how things unfold moving forward with reopening. Many people think this time has been a test of our character. I think that is true, however, as we reenter society maybe our true character will be tested and manifested. How we treat each other and how we handle having to wait in line for a red lobster will indicate not just your manners, but quite frankly be a look into how the stay at home experience has reared its ugly head. Weeks of anxiety, frustration, helplessness will all play a part in how we acclimate to our new society, so I hope those that have a melt down over an ice-cream line take a moment to step back and realize, “You could handle all the turmoil of being stuck inside for weeks, but you can’t handle waiting in line with respect and dignity?”
Ok, maybe that’s not fair to say, but if you think you are going to lash out and cause havoc in any public forum please consider taking a long walk. Regrouping. Reaching out for help. Taking a deep breath. Whatever it takes to allow yourself to process all that internal trauma you may have gone through over the weeks.
We’re all human, and we’re all in this together. It’s easier to be kind than mean, but if you feel anger taking over your being, walk away. As seen at the ice-cream parlor and at Red Lobster, our new social contract will need to include a rule for human decency.