The instruction at this establishment is to hang up the phone when a customer starts yelling. The employer does not tolerate people who make fun of his employees. For my part, I like, before hanging up, to ask people—and not just men—why they think they’re allowed to do this and tell them, politely, that it’s not right. Which made them even more angry. They ended up hanging.
I had to warn one of my two rude interlocutors this week that I would end the conversation if he continued to insult me. His response was, “Oh yes? You are so much, you. Tell your boss that I will not set foot in his house again.” I’m the number, not him.
He went later to get his luxury sedan—all smiles for the boss—and I saw that it was a man in his 60s, dressed very elegantly, with manicured nails and shoes that shine even in the rain. (Proof that gumption cannot be seen with the naked eye.)
The uneducated have always existed, but “social repression” has made them unreachable. They are the exception. No one encouraged them to continue on this path. Their lack of good behavior is blamed on a lack of education or on temporary frustration. Today, as demonstrated by the excellent Crisis of Civility series published in these pages this fall, rabid people are everywhere. At school, in shops, offices, or on the phone. They come from all walks of life, all ages, and all walks of life, spitting their venom in the faces of those who dare to stand up to them or simply tell them, “We are not what you are looking for.”.
Some people take pride in it. It’s like being slobbery is a badge of honor.
The Détail Québec organization launched a campaign this week to promote goodwill in stores. This is not a joke. Retail employees of all kinds are harassed, intimidated, yelled at, and threatened by disgruntled customers. And this continues: employees are tracked and harassed on social networks, or they wait at the door of the business at closing time to continue the “discussion.”.
The director of Détail Québec, Manuel Champagne, confirmed that the aggressiveness has reached “unimaginable levels.”.
No matter how much we blame frustrations stemming from the pandemic or staff shortages, there is no excuse. I wish the initiative of Détail Québec a success, but the evil goes deeper than the badness of the stores. In our classrooms, even as children, we throw teachers’ chairs, we spit, and we bite. This is not fiction. Unless society gets its act together, I’m pessimistic. I have not seen any significant action taken in this direction. Our helplessness paralyzes us. We prefer to look the other way. It’s like the environment.
When a Quebec Solidaire MP shouted “f.k you” twice at a CAQ-elected official in the middle of the National Assembly, what happened this week was that we lost a certain control. No matter how much we say “zero tolerance,” for now, there is no change. And as I like to say, if nothing changes, nothing changes.
But no one knows how to control and reduce aggression around them. The police? He had other fish to fry, and he wasn’t always a model of self-respect. School? Teachers are overwhelmed and tired. Given without power. The politicians? Politics has a role in controlling this widespread anger, but isn’t it a source of social tensions? And the parents? Everything starts, obviously, but when parents yell at teachers, what message are they sending to their children?
Of course, most people do not behave this way. But the ambient aggressiveness is increasing. Are we going to wait until people are dead before more efforts are made to reduce anger in the environment? Indeed, people are dying; imagine the rage on the road.
I have a line of thought, but that, I warn you, is not popular. Since the 1960s, Western societies have favored feeling, which can guarantee authenticity, and emotions, which must take precedence over reflection in order to live in psychological balance. Restraint is suspected in the eyes of subscribers to personal growth; it can be a source of physical illness.
In other words, to live happily, you have to let go. Put our guts on the table. Express yourself freely and live free from the judgment of others.
But no one said there should be limits that shouldn’t be excessive, but there you have it: limits are outdated.