There's a girl at the Burger King in Newcastle Central train station who always smiles. It doesn't matter whether the customer she's just served is a pleasant, courteous being, or (as is more common) a grumpy, antisocial grunter who treats her like she's hardly human, preferring to keep on talking on the phone. She always smiles.
Most of us would forgive her if she didn't. In her dowdy grey uniform, doing a menial job for however many hours a day she could get away with being surly, as most fast food restaurant workers are. But she isn't, and it's refreshing to see, especially when people treat her as a convenient food vendor rather than a person. Fine, she's on the other side of the counter, but would you treat her like that if you bumped into her on the street? No. So why are you so rude to her?
In recent times I've taken to being that bit more sociable with shop assistants and other people with whom I interact on a non-social basis (if that's the right phrase). This has had mixed results; for every bright, friendly shop assistant, there's one who really couldn't care less and who just wants me to shove off and stop talking. Probably the best person to chat with when buying something is the chap who works on the SF floor of Waterstones in Newcastle city centre. Every time I walk in and buy something, he'll be receptive to conversation. He'll tell me about this book that's just come out, recommend something a bit different for next time and be genuinely enthusiastic about what he's saying.
People who are prepared to go the extra mile in the execution of their duties make everyday things more enjoyable - or at least more bearable. We should be just as pleasant back to them. I doubt that the girl in Burger King wants to work there for eight hour shifts every day. How about those shifts become bearable because we, as customers, are friendly with her and extend common courtesy?
I think I managed to lose control of this blog in the middle of the third paragraph, when I forgot what I was writing. Oh, well.