Easy to be hard

Dan ArpOpinion

Cindy and I recently went to the Clarence Brown Theatre and saw the musical Hair. The lyrics to the song “Easy to be Hard” (MacDermot, Rado, Ragni, 1967) seem stuck in my head:

How can people be so heartless / How can people be so cruel / Easy to be hard / Easy to be cruel

Now I’m not preaching. I’m talking to myself as well. Cindy wrote in a recent article about all the abuse that workers at the UPS center on Callahan Road were subjected to by people who couldn’t get their parcels. This was all caused by the extreme weather of the previous week. Nevertheless, many people couldn’t resist taking out their frustration on other people.

More recently, I stopped at a fast-food restaurant on Clinton Highway. There was only one person working at that time. She said she was normally on her own until 11 each day. I commented that I sure hoped she was appreciated. I meant by her employer. She understood that I meant customers. She said, “Not really, a woman threw a burger at me the day before yesterday because the cheese wasn’t melted. People can be unhappy with their own lives and take it out on others.”

Sad but true words.

A couple of days later, I was in a farm supply store making a return. I related the burger story to the lady on the customer service desk. She dropped her head a little and said she knew. She told me that she usually cries three times a day because of the abuse she must endure. She said when her shift ends, she sits in her car for 10-15 minutes until she is in shape to go home to her family.

How can people be so cruel? Serving the public is hard. In the old comic strip, Pogo said, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” You never know what the person on the other side of the counter must endure. They may be having family issues. They may not have a family to go home to. They are here to provide service, but they aren’t servants.

As Jack Nicholson said in As Good as It Gets, “You make me want to be a better person.” I am going to try. How about all of us put in a little effort.

Dan Arp is retired and lives in Heiskell with wife Cindy.


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