A few days ago, I experienced what could have been the biggest slap to me so far as a public servant. I accompanied a client to a cashier of a department. Unfortunately, there was a problem in the documents brought by my client. Instead of properly explaining to us to resolve the problem, the cashier simply shouted at us and said, “Ibalik nyo yan! Di yan pwede! (Return that! That is not acceptable!)”.
I was so embarrassed because my client had to go back all the way to Manila (we were in Taguig) and return again just to address a matter which could have easily been solved if she allowed us to explain. I was so pissed but I decided not push the matter because my client could be placed in more jeopardy.
This is not the first time I encountered “scary” or “rude” government employees. But most of the time, I just let it go because these people may have reasons why they have such attitude. I also learned through experience that if I talk to them in a nice and patient way, they will also treat you nicely. Of course, there are exceptions. There are simply people who are too rude and filled with bitterness for the world.
I also observed that the problem with some clients is that when they deal with government employees, they already have that pre-existing notion that the latter are slow or inefficient. So, the clients address the employees rudely. If one treats you that way, how would you expect yourself to react? Although it may be true that some government transactions could really take forever, does that merit someone to treat another person impolitely?
It makes me look back then. As a government employee, how have I been treating my clients and co-workers so far? Am I any different from the cashier who treated me rudely? I keep talking about this and that but maybe behind my back, people are hurt because of my snobbish and know-it-all attitude. I realized… I am in no position to criticize how the cashier treated me because maybe in other means, I also treat people in the same manner.
It all boils down to this, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. If we want to earn respect, then we should give it also. Even if someone doesn’t give us respect, we should still give it. If not, then we are no better that the person who disrespected us.
I remember a conservation with a friend who told me, “Why I should I respect him when I don’t even know him?”. While he was saying that, I played in my mind what my late maternal grandmother would always tell me about respecting others: We are all born naked. When we die, we all turn to dust. You are not better than the people around so why treat them as if they are newts? Anything and anyone who carries an ounce of life is just as special as you are so give even the tiniest consideration they deserve.
If everybody just treats each other with a little respect, could the world really be a happier place?