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We are all stressed

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At the height of the violence in Kenya, it is reported that, the madams in the suburbs were upset that the maids were not turning up for work. On the BBC world service Outlook programme, there has just been a report about a till operator in Paris, with a degree in literature, who has published a book on how customers have become more and more rude to supermarket employees. This got me thinking about Zimbabwe. This topic may seem trivial and frivolous in the light of what we are going through but a society must be judged by its treatment of all of its citizens whether at a political rally, at an SPCA meeting, a parents assembly at school or in front of the tills.

The people who ring the sales in your favourite supermarket wake up at 4am because they live so far away from the area where they work. They then light a fire so that they can have a hot bath in a basin of sorts. After that, they have to wake up hungry children and get them to take a bath before heading for the kombi bus stop to wait an hour or so for transport. They have, at this stage, no idea what the transport fare is going to be and more often than not, they have to catch two sets of buses to get to work. When they get to work, they will be confronted by broken down visa machines through no fault of theirs or the supermarket. They are also already physically tired because they may or may have been invited for a political meeting the night before.

Who walks in at that moment? Madame Surburban Housewife, who rightly demands the best in service because she happens to travel to Cape Town on holiday and is therefore used to international standards in countries who inflation is a mere 10%, where the transport runs on time and the employees are paid a living wage. Madame suburban housewife, should perhaps pause to think about these poor souls and greet them first? Of course they are paid to greet customers with a smile, but at the rate things are going up how can a lowly paid till operator afford a smile when he cannot afford breakfast for his children and when he sees how much Madame Suburban Housewife is spending on olives for Sunday lunch?

Is it perhaps time to acknowledge that at times we take better care of our pets than we do fellow human beings – in terms of common decency towards employees who deserve a break from the pressures of their daily lives and the coal face at the check out counter? So next time you go to the supermarket, how about you greet the till operator warmly and with a smile, even if you are not paid to do it? “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Have a great day!

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