Common courtesy in a modern age

I own a cell phone, as do most of the readers of this publication. It is a modern convenience that I cannot imagine my life without. I also work in the service industry, waiting tables. In the 10 years I have been doing so I have witnessed the increase of cellphone use destroy the common courtesies of customer/server interactions.

I am, on a daily basis, “put on hold” by customers (i.e., having a hand or finger held up in my face when I approach a table). Greetings are treated as interruptions and are often met with irritation. I have more than once taken the order of a customer who is texting simultaneously and who makes no eye contact with me at any point during our interaction.

It is my job to be nice to people and to give prompt and friendly service. It is what people base their tips on and tips are how I pay my rent. I have chosen this vocation as a profession and I am, overall, profoundly grateful for the life it has provided me. I am a people-person who genuinely enjoys meeting and socializing through my job. It is increasingly difficult for me to give good service when the customers don’t put down their phones, look me in the eye and tell me what they would like to order. It is a simple interaction, one that doesn’t have to take a lot of time, but one that involves participation from both ends.

The customer-service structure prevents me from calling people out on their behavior without risking my job. It is partly due to this “customer is always right” structure that I feel the need to write this letter. I write it for all service-industry employees on which this economy thrives: bank tellers, parking-deck employees, baristas, hotel clerks, convenience and grocery store clerks and so many other customer-service employees who make their living serving people.

I feel we must also be aware that we in the service industry are also customers in different situations and must try to remember the same courtesies when we are on the other side of the coin. In this highly technological age, we need to unplug ourselves for long enough to be present with those around us.

— Selene Klaas


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Webmaster
Mountain Xpress Webmaster Follow me @MXWebTeam

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

One thought on “Common courtesy in a modern age

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.