At one time or another, I must have signed up to receive email notices from an educational program based out of Surry, Maine, called the Institute for Humane Education. On Monday morning I received an email about a workshop for educators on how to incorporate and teach kindness to their students. This institute’s motto is, “The World Becomes What We Teach.”
I rarely receive emails from this organization, so I thought it was apropos that I got an email about kindness on Monday morning, just after I witnessed something at a Windham business the previous day.
I had a meeting early Sunday morning and it was my turn to bring the refreshments. I stopped at a local business to pick up some sweets. Since I was running a little late, I was happy to see that the usual long line of customers had dispersed and I got to give my order immediately. I ordered two dozen assorted donuts from, what I soon discovered, was a new employee. Had it not been for the following incident, I would have not known she was new.
After I placed my order, the employee packed up the first dozen donuts in a box. As the new hire did her work, customers quickly began filing up behind me. Once the employee was finished with the first dozen, I offered to close the lid and tape the box for her so she could continue with the second dozen. I wanted to be helpful to both the employee, as well as to the line of customers behind me.
As I was attempting to close the box lid, the lid wasn’t cooperating. I joked with the customer beside me about not doing a good job, when suddenly, the box of donuts was snatched out of my hands. It was another employee and she firmly stated, “She needs to learn how to do this.”
“Well, whatever you do, don’t get mad at her because I told her to give the box to me,” I said with the hope of not getting the, now obvious, new employee in trouble.
Once my order had been completed, a supervisor walked past the new hire, pointing out the two “special” donuts and said rather harshly and in front of the accumulating line of customers, “These donuts cost more. Don’t put these in there. Did you charge her for these?”
Before the new employee had an opportunity to answer, the worker who snatched the first box of donuts away from me stated firmly and with an air of disgust, “She DID NOT charge her for those two donuts!”
Taken aback by what had just transpired, I was left speechless. I looked at the long line of customers behind me, and everyone’s eyes were diverted as if they were embarrassed by the rude and unprofessional transaction that had just played out before us.
Not only should a supervisor and fellow employee not “train” their new trainees in a condescending tone, one certainly does not humiliate them in front of customers.
Mortified, I left as soon as I could without saying one word to support the new employee nor paying the extra ten or twenty cents I may have owed due to human error. I just turned around and left.
I wonder if teaching kindness would actually create a kinder world. If so, I wonder if the supervisor and co-worker would have approached the new employee differently.
I wonder if I would have had the courage to speak up.
I wonder if the customers behind me would have stayed to support that business.