Friday, July 10, 2009

Have we come to this?

I watched part of a documentary series about the the London Underground yesterday. It was quite interesting in places but disturbing in others. Disturbing because of the catalogue of personal, physical assaults it detailed along with reporting the vandalism that regularly occurs. We're not talking about graffiti here, we're talking about bricks being thrown at moving trains. The cabs of newer rolling stock is now fitted with a bullet-proof grade of windscreen to prevent bricks and missiles penetrating the windows and causing serious injury to drivers.

Then there are the stories of nurses and teachers and other professionals who face personal attacks from members of the public.

Somewhere along the way we've lost not our sense of respect for other people but our sense of responsibility to respect other people. Staff in restaurants suffer abuse, retail workers are poorly treated by customers. As one interviewee on the radio said, "Our society seems to treat people who work in the service sector as if they are all somehow 'beneath' the rest of us."

Watching as one train driver talked about the trauma of his experience and another station worker shared their story of not one but several assaults, I couldn't help wondering what we, what I could do. At the very least I thought, I could make the effort to always be courteous to those whose job it is to serve me in some way.

I can't do anything about the drunk who abuses the ticket staff but I can say thank you and praise them for the way they do their daily job. And I can do that for the waitress, the bus driver too.

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