From the early days of the pandemic, we came to appreciate those of us working while others stayed home. This fine world would become a very different place if the infamous toilet paper shortage had lasted for years instead of months. But so many, from farmers to shelf stockers, and everyone in between, produced, manufactured, delivered and retailed the necessary rolls so that we all could remain in comfort.
On the positive side, the echo of all that we endured in 2020 through today is that we continue to express gratitude to those who do show up. There is a bit more grace for slow service, failed delivery and missed deliverables. Shouldn’t our frustration be aimed at those refusing to get off their couch to work or businesses exploiting a false narrative to profit?
On the negative side, we find ourselves routinely confronted with limited or no customer service. Capacity used to mean available tables – now it means available staffing. We tolerate long lines and poor quality in ways that would have been unacceptable just a few years ago. Have our expectations been lowered along with the value presented?
Even so, what should we anticipate? Can a server be held to account for an understaffed kitchen? Can an airline employee be blamed for the attributes of the airport staff – or vice versa? What is the role of the parent for inferior educators? Of educators for down-market parents? If no one is responsible, our current system will fail to function. Yet, if we criticize too much, who will remain to fill the roles? Is it too easy to avoid obligation? Hiding is a pernicious but effective way to deflect the incumbent discomfort of labor. Working is not always easy, but still, we must hold ourselves accountable to deliver our best effort.