The title of this may sound like a joke...and in a way it kind of is, as I do want to bring some pokey-jabby-loving-neighbour-nudges to the table.
We all from time to time need those friendly reminders that we are all brothers and sisters – co-creating the habitation of this planet.
You may not know this about me, but the first job that I ever had (at age 15) was working at McDonalds.
My humble beginnings hustlin' and bustlin' the Drive Thru, responding to what-seemed-like a-zillion different beeps in the kitchen, working regular overnights, and serving thousands of customers, taught me an incredible amount about human interaction, communication, and compassion for others.
I worked there for 2 years then moved onto other several other customer-service/retail related jobs.
Before I came to what it is that I now do professionally
(which is playing music, creating transformational video & visual content, teaching online ESL to kids who live in China, and keeping it real on planet earth), I had several jobs that paved the spaces and places where I have presently landed.
I feel it is is important to honour all the jobs and communities that have contributed to our our own spectrum of experience.
Oh the lessons learned...
High amounts of #streetschool "cred/respect" are awarded to those who work/have worked in any service-related industry, as they practice the art and mastery of navigating the energetic nuances of dynamic social communication and relationships.
Fast forward 10 years from my first job... I found myself at a commercial agency, auditioning with a band, to play the role of "the hip band" in a commercial.
We didn't end up getting the gig, but funny enough, I was the only one to receive a phone call back... however it wasn't about the commercial I had auditioned for...
Someone from the agency called and said, "we are looking for a young, healthy, trendy-looking individual for a McDonalds commercial, and would love to offer you a position to feature in it!"
All I could think of in my head while that nice lady was offering this position was, "how can I politely tell this person – fuck no."
Though I would never judge anyone who has decided to be in a commercial for McDonalds (and all the other shades and variations of McDonalds), nevertheless, participating to endorse such an establishment (and everything that it does and does not stand for) would be completely misaligned with my values – no amount of money could skew that.
The hilarious juxtaposition and irony of McDonalds asking the furthest-fitting candidate to be in their commercial (a plant-based-peace-n'-good-vibes-gal)... is another blog post all together.
One thing I have to be honest about, is that when I told that agent on the phone that I wasn't interested in being in that mcDonald's commercial... I have never felt so badass in my entire life.
Working several other customer-service related jobs has allowed me to have better social awareness, compassion and appreciation for every single person behind every counter.
Though I understand that not everyone will have a "Drive Thru gig" in their life (nor would I endorse that), I believe that we need to continually put ourselves in the shoes of those working minimum wage trench-like jobs, and honour the humans behind the uniforms who offer up so much energy and time to serve our society.
It's not only in coffee shops and restaurants that we see attitudes that "roboticize" humans.
Ego-centric-entitlement can creep onto our city roads, as well.
Being a cyclist in the city of Toronto, I sadly witness a lot of mind-baffling-dangerous behaviours and acts of inconsideration on the roads.
It's as if people forget that there are actual humans in vehicles and on bikes.
When I see that person dangerously cut off and flip-the-bird to another car on the road, I sometimes think, "What if that randomly turned out to be their grandma?"
Well guess what... that IS your grandma – the collective grandma, aunt, son, daughter, uncle and friendly librarian that we all know and love!
I've compiled a "check list" of 8 ways we can be better at treating people like humans
Some of these ideas and guidelines are geared toward those who work in the service industry, but the main message and metaphors can be applied to any team or relationship.
1. Acknowledge the person that is about to make your coffee.
Greet the person that is making your beverage.
Look them in the eyes and acknowledge their existence, their humanity and service – before jumping into the demands of your desired purchases.
Recognize that they have served dozens of customers prior to you, and stand out with kindness.
- Make their lives easy and energy efficient.
- Be mindful of the questions that you are asking, so that they don't have to read the entire menu on "a silver platter" for you, when everything may already be listed in front of your face. (Straight up.)
2. Order "The Staff Special".
On the subject of social mindfulness...
We've all seen that lady holding up the line with her/his unprepared vague order requests, catalogues of questions, and personal story-telling – directed to the person making their burrito.
Though the journey of ordering your meal doesn't have to be done alone, that person behind the counter isn't being paid well enough to hold your hand and personally coach you through the process of getting your lunch.
- Instead of delaying Christmas with open ended questions about the intricate nuances and demands of your order, enlist the trusty advice of the employee or the waitress who is serving you.
Ask what their recommendation would be. This may be a one-of-a-kind opportunity to try something new and incredible to you.
- Recognize and encourage that they have the "street cred" knowledge of the secret sauces.
- Let them show you the ropes on what the best thing to order is. These are great-vibe, time saving conversations that energize their creative skill sets and expertise in the industry. Everyone develops some sort of superpower when working a job – it's great to give people admiration and #props for that.
3. Think of Out the Box with Random Acts of Kindness.
Have you ever received a kind note from a stranger or had your meal paid for by a mysterious stranger-pal? Those are the little things that create such a ripple boosting affect!
The small stuff adds up.
One of my favourite things to do at a bar is to leave a tip on my water.
Not only do I feel like a badass doing that, instead of slightly shy and non-contributive for not ordering an alcoholic drink, but the act also serves as another reminder that we have each other's backs.
The smallest acts of kindness have a powerful affect on lifting each other up and making each other's days better.
4. Be a leader in equal energy exchange.
- Don't expect others to do favours for you, without making an offer for an exchange.
- Don't ask an artist to play for free for your ticketed event.
Respect each other's time and treat each other like the professional badasses that they are.
5. Go above and beyond to thank someone – then thank them again!
Sure we have money as a form of currency and exchange, but usually when people have had the same job with the same salary for many years, their work is no longer (or was never) "energized" by money. They are ignited by recognition, appreciation, feedback and gratitude from others.
Even if you have paid a lot of money for a service, and that service was matched with the exchange of your money, it goes such a long way to go above and beyond, and thank that person with sincerity and enthusiasm.
If someone benefited your life or provided a great experience for you, follow up with them and let them know that you truly appreciate them and the work that they do. Receiving follow-ups, kind messages and compliments helps to encourage others to provide their best work and service to others.
6. Be curious, ask meaningful questions and receive incredible knowledge from others with different life experience.
Everyone has their own story and has hidden gems of wisdom that are applicable and can be interesting to you.
Use the opportunity of talking to someone new to receive information about fresh approaches, processes, ways of doing things and areas of interests.
Find out what the other person is excited about, and use the time talking with them to be enlightened by something you never knew.
Be of a student of life, ask meaningful questions, learn new things from others, honour them and extract their stories.
7. Bless everyone that cuts you off on the road.
When we get angry by the inconsiderate acts of others, we perpetuate the problem.
Calling people "assholes" just creates more assholes in the world.
Remember, that "asshole" in the car could be your grandma. It could be anyone's grandma. They did an "asshole" act, but THEY ARE NOT an asshole.
Everyone makes mistakes.
Tip: if you catch yourself calling someone an "a-hole," just remember that they are A WHOLE human.
8. Assume that every person is acting/coming from what they think is a positive intent.
As mad as you can be at the person that cut you off, it is important to remember that everyone acts from a place of positive benefit – whether it be personal or collective. You don't know their story; they may cut you off because they thought it would benefit them for whatever reason.
This can be a hard and sometimes frustrating concept to grasp, because it gives a stranger the benefit of the doubt.
Everyone's filter and level of communication is different.