This I Believe

Spencer - Minneapolis, Minnesota
Entered on October 2, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: respect

I believe in mops. Dirty, stinkin’ mops. Well not so much the mops themselves, but the people behind them, as well as the people behind the counters, in the bathroom stalls, at the grills, and just about anywhere that you can find a job that no one else wants to do. You see them everyday. Or rather, you don’t see them. Although you most likely benefited from one of their services in some way or another (a clean floor, a tasty cafeteria burger, a shoveled sidewalk) I doubt that you stopped to give thanks or even acknowledged for that matter these gifts, courtesy of the working-class heroes.

Alright, I’ll come clean. I didn’t exactly wake up this morning admiring the toilet seats or blowing kisses to the janitor—people kept giving me looks. Of course we can’t be thankful for everything all of the time. I don’t expect anyone ever will be. That’s not what gets to me. It’s the ignorant, deliberate, downright disrespectful actions of indecency that make my blood boil.

I’ve only had a glimpse of what it’s like to be an underpaid, underappreciated hero. My summer jobs working at Chipotle, Dairy Queen, and a local grocery store have all taught me the same valuable lesson—stay in school. I couldn’t imagine living my whole life being subject to the unreasonable complaints, insults, and arrogance of some of the jack-…err…grouches that call themselves human beings. Maybe an image will make my point more vivid.

After my first week at Dairy Queen, I had already learned more about making ice cream treats than I ever thought was possible. Late one night, a man came through the drive-thru and ordered, among other things, a small vanilla ice cream cone. I made the best cone I could (although kind of sloppy) and handed it out the window. I was getting ready to think about what I would do after the night’s shift, when suddenly a large man, arm covered in ice cream, face as red as a cherry stormed up to my counter and screamed, “Here’s my @#$damn cone!” and slammed what was left of his vanilla cone on the counter. I was no doubt taken aback, trying to make sense of why a middle-aged man was so enraged by the quality of his ice cream treat that he had the nerve to walk into the store and start screaming at me. The man proceeded to explain to me how he had just purchased a new car and how the whole interior was now ruined. My manager jumped to my rescue and immediately offered the man a refund. The man, still infuriated, replied by demanding that his money be refunded now. My manager typed in the numbers, opened the drawer, and came back with the man’s well-deserved cash–$1.69. The man’s face began to change back to its normal color and he lowered his eyebrows (if not also his blood pressure). He had suddenly realized, with a hint of embarrassment, that no screaming, no blaming, and certainly no $1.69 was going to change what had happened.

I’ve never forgotten that night and I hope that I never do. I guess the point that I’m trying to make from all of this is don’t take the heroes for granted. If you want to be treated like a human being, then act like one. If something angers you, take a step back and breathe for a second. Your burger might take an extra minute or two. Pick up after yourself, I don’t care what other people are paid to do. And above all, treat all people with respect. Make a hero feel like one.