Wanderings – Just doing their job

I worked at a self-serve gas station for a couple of years when I was in high school. It was one of the most boring jobs I’ve ever worked.

My shifts consisted of pushing a button, asking if the customer had a three-times coupon, hand out the Sandy McTire bucks, and see the place didn’t burn down or explode. The boredom wasn’t the worst part of the job – it was the complaining.

This was the 1990s and gas at the time was in the 45-50 cent per litre range. A price increase of a penny would start it. If the price went above 49.9 cents per litre, hide. Everyone and their uncle complained about it.

I had nothing to do with the price increases, I didn’t even have the doo-hickey thing to make the signboard change – the manager had to do that.

Gas companies didn’t call me for input on how much international organizations should raise the price of a barrel of oil. I was just the kid who had to take the money for the overpriced gasoline.

Still for the customer coming in to pay for the overpriced gasoline, it was still my fault. Just for doing my job.

This isn’t a new thing – people blaming the workers for something going on. In fact, this has only gotten worse over time.

Most workers we all interact with on a daily basis have no influence on decision making from above. Those workers just have to do their job.

The immediacy of the internet–driven world has removed the constraints of time and patience.

Now many people think because they pushed a button on an app, that their cheap, made-in-China widget will instantly appear in the mailbox. If it doesn’t arrive, that must be the postal clerk’s fault right? No it’s not. Maybe don’t order Christmas gifts three days before the big day and hope it will arrive on time.

Retail frustrations are one thing, but front-line services are another. The pandemic has made it worse, or at least amplified pre-existing issues, for those who work in front-line services like health care.

With the pandemic it started with the usual suspects posting on social media. Anti-mask, anti-vax, anti-whatever. Online trolling and bullying by keyboard warriors who hide behind ones-and-zeros. Some use their real names, others with fake names. Either way the comments are great comedy if you are a casual reader online, but hurtful to those the comments are directed towards. People who are just doing their jobs.

Now this has grown to protesting right in front of hospitals. Yes, people have the right to free speech and the right to protest but free speech has responsibility attached to it, just like choices to follow or not follow health guidance, or get a vaccine dose.

But these certain individuals yell at those who work in the health care field because of having to follow health guidance like wearing a mask or receiving a vaccine.

It’s escalated to some individuals yelling at workers when they walk to their cars at night. Is this really productive?

Talking to people I know in the health care field, this used to be a rarity, now it is a frequent occurrence. It just needs to stop.

If a person is mad and wants to protest a virus or some policy or regulation about the virus, protest the right people.

Unhappy with mask mandates, talk to Ontario Premier Doug Ford. Dislike requiring a box drawing QR code thing to go eat in a restaurant, yell at the right officials who set the policies, not at the servers who have to check the QR Code and serve food. The restaurant server did not put a province-wide vaccine passport system in place. Go march on Parliament Hill or at Queen’s Park.

Directing anger about health measures and vaccines at the right places, or to the right people, may be helpful. Protesting outside of health care facilities, vaccination clinics and the like because someone doesn’t like the science or government policy is not.

Vent in appropriate places, and let the people who are just doing their jobs, go do their jobs.