Dr. Ari Kalechstein
Last Saturday, I purchased two iPads at BestBuy. The process of ordering them online was cumbersome, and the wait to collect them from curbside delivery was equally slow. While waiting in the parking lot to collect the equipment, I could hear other customers grumbling, voicing their frustrations regarding the time needed to fulfill their orders, and, in some cases, berating customer service representatives for the slow process.
Like the other shoppers, I experienced that same frustration and irritability; however, and at that critical time, it was important to understand that the customer service representatives were probably working as quickly as possible. When the customer service representative presented me with my order, I told her that I appreciated her assistance and that I understood that she was working as best she could under the circumstances. The service rep thanked me for remaining patient and wistfully said, “It would be so nice if more customers were like you. They don’t understand that we’re working as hard as we can.”
It is not surprising that my fellow shoppers felt and acted as they did. Specifically, and over the past several weeks, our daily lives have been disrupted in a manner that few of us have experienced. For example, we no longer can come within 6 feet of others, we need to stay at home for an extraordinary amount of time, activities that we completed on a daily basis, such as going to the gym, are no longer available, and/or our capacity to work has been altered and, in some cases, been abolished. Hence, it is not surprising that we would experience anxiety, sadness, irritability, frustration, or even outright anger.
It is during these times that we must emphasize the need to think before we act, consider the consequences of our actions, and be empathetic when considering the actions of others, even when their actions might be provocative. Anger and frustration can lead individuals to behave in ways that they ordinarily would not, and in ways that can have far-reaching consequences. Eventually, these difficult times will pass, and we, as a society, will return to some degree of normalcy. It is so important that we do not allow our emotions, particularly our negative feelings, to overwhelm our sense of what is right and wrong and lead us to engage in actions that may be regrettable and/or harmful to others and/or ourselves. Instead, it is our capacity to act with patience, empathy, and humanity that will carry the day.