Dear Annie: I work in retail, and my job requires a good deal of direct contact with customers. I often encounter customers who are hesitant, even apologetic, to ask me questions when they have them, the usual reasons being that I "look busy" or that they are unsure whether I can help.
I realize that these people are attempting to be polite, but their timidity in asking often has the opposite effect. Retail is like any other job, in that I am paid to be busy; if I am too busy for customers, it is my responsibility, not theirs, to find someone who can help them or to inform them that I will be with them shortly. The same follows if I am unable to help. But I will never know whether I am able to help unless they proceed with their question. Regardless, customer service is my duty as part of my job.
Even setting aside my duties at work, I was raised to put the needs of others before my own; therefore, requests are never as much of an imposition as customers think. I would even go so far as to say that they think their questions are an imposition in order to consider themselves more important, but that is merely mild paranoia.
Is there a way to tell customers that you find their behavior rude without being rude yourself or lecturing them? -- Gentle Giant
Dear Gentle Giant: Your signature gives a clue about why customers might be reluctant to ask you for help. If you really are giant-sized, they may be intimidated. So my advice is to keep doing what you are doing -- to be as solicitous, helpful and kind as possible. Stay gentle and sweet. As the saying goes, "You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar."
Dear Annie: At a recent seniors meeting, I heard similar stories from two women in the group. Each one had been absent from her home for a couple of days, and close relatives took it upon themselves to "clean" their kitchens. Shelves were rearranged to suit the fancy and height of the rearrangers. Items were tossed that the owners considered useful. This caused great distress to the women. Neither of these women is tall, and their relatives put things on shelves that required them to use a stepstool. One cannot see well and now can't locate needed items readily. You get the picture. For well-meaning relatives: Please do not do this to your loved ones! -- Sympathetic Senior
Dear Sympathetic Senior: I second your plea. No one should reorganize another person's place without permission, even if it's done out of love and with the best intentions. Home is where you hang your hat -- and it's jarring when someone moves the peg.
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