is rudeness and hostility on the rise in your profession?

On last week’s post about the person whose clients have have started becoming abusive after she gives them feedback, several people wrote that they’ve been seeing the same change in their own professions:

  • “I’ve been in retail over ten years and there has been behavior from people in the last few months I’ve never seen, even in pandemic times, where it seems the convergence of war, rising energy prices, ongoing pandemic, etc. has resulted in some of the crappiest behavior from the public en masse I’ve been subjected to yet … People all over are really being their worst right now.”
  • I’m in libraries, so a different field than the OP, but people have been particularly more rude, aggressive, and hostile over the past … 6-ish months? My colleagues and friends in other jobs have all noticed it too.”
  • “It used to be that a rude student stood out to us, but these days there are so many people who are rude not just in a tense situation but as a baseline of behavior, and it has been noted by faculty and staff alike. It was on the rise for many years, but the pandemic seemed to accelerate things.”

Are you seeing this in your own job? And if so, what do you think is behind it — pandemic fatigue, increasingly bitter partisan divides, something else?

{ 899 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    It’s very likely that I could end up quoting responses here in another piece, so if you don’t want me to do that with yours, please note that when commenting!

  2. Emily*

    I haven’t noticed this so much in my job, but I have seen a general reduction in the quality of social interactions especially with relative strangers. The simplest explanation is that people are finally emerging from isolation as things go back to ‘normal’, and have lost social skills during their isolation. If they spent a lot of time on the internet and social media, I’d say rudeness is the norm there rather than the exception. They might have forgotten that unlike the situations protected by the anonymity of the internet, there are real-life consequences for being rude in person.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      I do wonder if the rise of incivility and rudeness on the internet has now tansferred and transformed our face-to-face interactions. Not that people have forgotten how to behave in person (because of the pandemic), but rather they don’t care about being polite any more becuase they’ve decided if it’s okay on the internet, it’s okay in real life.

      1. anon-beaver*

        I totally agree with this. I feel that on the internet, it’s become normalized to address disagreements confrontationally, or at least to argue without caring about the other person’s feelings.

        Similarly, I’ve noticed that people can often act really entitled to other people’s time on the internet – for example, lashing out at an Instagram fan account or artist for not consistently producing content, for posting the “wrong” content, or for expressing any personal views instead of just serving up their work for consumption. I feel that this kind of entitlement to other people’s generosity has likely expanded to real-life interactions. The person saying “Seriously??? I don’t follow your Instagram to see ugly pictures of your face, go back to your old content” is probably also someone who is entitled and abusive to service workers in person.

        1. fposte*

          I think also internet discourse is strongly geared to a win-loss mentality–there’s lots of approbation for anecdotes where somebody served up petty revenge or a scorching riposte or a devastating monologue because the other person “deserved it.” There’s not much internet approbation for anecdotes where somebody deescalated a situation.

          1. Mrs. Weaver*

            This is very true. I also think media is involved as well. So much of “reality” tv involves not-very-nice behavior, either to win a game (Survivor, Big Brother type shows) or just because it’s edited to show just the drama or dirty-dealing (Real Housewives of where ever type shows). It starts to feel like people are being taught to be rude, instead of being taught to be polite.

            1. some_coder*

              Thats why i like the series “Bridgerton” so much. They all speak so politely to each other (even if many things are not polite at all in their historic setting ;) ).

          2. kicking_k*

            That’s interesting and casts some of my experiences in a new light. While I haven’t seen an excuse in rude ways of speaking, I have seen an increase in clients who think they have been wronged and who seem to want revenge rather than compensation: they want my organisation to shut down the service they find unsatisfactory, for example (which is not going to happen over one complaint). And they often seem to have no awareness that they are not the only client I serve, and complain if I can’t get back to them right away (although our target timescale is in our acknowledgement emails). I wonder if this is because they never see me or any other service users in person.

            1. Jaydee*

              Oh man, the “target timescale is in our acknowledgement email” and “they don’t realize I have other clients” comments resonate with me so much right now! Thank you for making me feel less alone in the world.

          3. Verthandi*

            Oooh the petty revenge stories! The ones I have seen have usually featured small women as the targets, and I’m curious if that’s across the board or just my small sample size.

            1. Reluctant Mezzo*

              Small women are an easy target, after all. People who would never rude to a large man are fine when ranting as a small woman in person. On the internet, women in general are told to suck it up when they report bodily threats online, and then told they are cowards for not wanting to post on a platform where it’s apparently ok. (of course, these same individuals are usually not the category who gets those threats).

              1. Verthandi*

                Several years ago, I called out someone who gleefully told the story of how he got back at some woman at the supermarket. I asked him if he’d have done the same thing if the other shopper were built like Conan the Barbarian.

                He went silent because the answer was no, and had never considered it.

        2. Rabid Child*

          Yes to this. Also, people see this rudeness on television all the time coming from politicians and pundits, so naturally they think it’s okay, but so much of that is performance they’ve lost track of what’s appropriate.

          1. Not a cat*

            Politics, absolutely. Plus a certain former President’s behavior sets an example and makes it OK for shitty people to act shitty.

            1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

              This! SO much this. I could write a book, but I will resist the temptation to elaborate further.

            2. lilsheba*

              That’s what I was going to say, that it started with him, he made it appear ok to be rude and loud in public, to be racists and harass people in public, and then the pandemic with mask mandates and all that “tyranny” against their “freedoms” it just got worse.

            3. TinLizi*

              I had to tell 4th graders on my field trip program that it was inappropriate to quote the president.

        3. anonanna*

          I see more attacks on people for *not* sharing their personal opinion or commenting on an issue. I’m sorry, but I don’t go to an influencer to learn about a social issue or geopolitical crisis & it’s ridiculous that we blast them for not ‘addressing’ these topics. I think this goes back to our society’s general conflation of entertainment and news– why are we expecting to get them both in the same place?
          & on a personal level, I like having news-free safe spaces. My spouse is in the military & let’s just say the situation in Europe has affected us in dramatic ways, to the point where I’ve been physically ill and mentally unwell from stress. I hate not being able to escape the news anywhere I go- even if I go to the gym, it’s still on every TV screen. So I personally appreciate spaces that are free of that content and are truly for escapism, so I’m not going to be reminded of something deeply traumatic everywhere I turn.

          1. SpiderLadyCEO*

            Yes, this. People definitely get pressured to talk about specific topics that are “important” and get dragged if they don’t. Of course, not everyone is able or wants to speak about whatever is going on in the world – and that should be fine! But there is definitely an air of “if you don’t say something you don’t care” – which of course is not true. And people might be speaking out about the topic, or doing all they can do to help – in a different forum.

      2. Cedrus Libani*

        I think it’s that, and it’s more general than that: there’s been a shift towards one-time interactions. In a “small town” context, everyone knows each other, and rudeness has ample opportunity to be returned. If you’re mean to the butcher, expect the baker to greet you with “you made my sister cry, get out of my store”. There goes your ability to buy groceries in that town ever again. There are consequences. Now? You’ll never see these people again, so it doesn’t matter.

        1. Theo*

          This actually inspired me to unblock a couple people from my town, for the sake of community conversation, who are Unpleasant but not like, Bad People — but also it’s good to remember that this goes both ways, and online interactions now means you don’t have to go to the butcher who posts weirdly off-target rants about trans people or masks. Sometimes even in a small town people deserve consequences to their rude actions.

      3. pope suburban*

        Also, like…all too often, it IS okay in real life, at least in the sense that you still get what you want and people are still pressured to be nice to you when they are working. Sure, there’s the court of public opinion, but if you’re not concerned with that, there’s often no downside for acting antisocially. My agency has been really bad about this- after making it work for two years, with most of that hit being taken by those of us on the bottom rungs of the ladder (You know, the least able to bear it), we’re constantly getting these chirpy, scolding little reminders to “be nice to the public!” Like we’re not getting abused more than ever, like we haven’t been trending toward that while dealing with shutdowns and our own personal hardships for two years, like there would be anything fundamentally *wrong* about being empowered to tell someone, “I understand you are upset, but we will need to continue this once you have stepped out and taken some time to regroup.” Right now, the consequence of acting a damn fool is that we will bend over backwards for you. Not the tack I think we should take for dozens of reasons, not least is how we’re ever supposed to establish a better baseline if we keep rewarding these people.

          1. 2Legit*

            When I worked in a call center, one of my FAVORITE lines when someone was getting verbally abusive with me was to calmly say, “I won’t tolerate your profanity or abuse.” I LOVED saying that! I have rights too! Just because I’m a worker doesn’t mean I don’t have rights! I’m a human being, too! Working with the general public in those jobs really put me in a position of having to put up with a lot of crap- & that was before the pandemic.

        1. cranky vet*

          Yes, a big part of the problem is that the rude or obnoxious behavior is tolerated and even awarded. A large part of society has become increasingly narcissistic. Some people are only going to do what’s best for themselves, to hell with the people they step over to get what’s theirs. God forbid you trample on “their rights” and expect them to do something for the good of society. Yes, I resent always doing the “right thing” and making sacrifices for the greater good while these selfish jerks flout the rules and even benefit from bad behavior. Sick and tired of the entitled attitude. Yup, I’m bitter….

          1. Quiet Liberal*

            Narcissistic, that’s the word! I’ve noticed a lot of aggression on the freeway. I try to just stay out of those people’s way, but it seems there are so many drivers who wish you just weren’t on “their” road. I can’t get out of their way fast enough. It’s dangerous and very nerve wracking. Just got home from a long drive and need a drink or two!

            1. Chauncy Gardener*

              OK, since we’re talking about driving…. OMG!! I have seen probably ten plus people in the last month stop at a red light, look to see if it was clear and the RUN THE RED LIGHT LIKE IT WAS A STOP SIGN.
              I just don’t even know what to say here, people. Help me out?

              1. Your Oxford Comma*

                I’m a road cyclist and there’s a “thing” that (generally) men in large pickups do, called “rolling coal.” The driver shifts the truck in such a way that it belches a large, black cloud of toxic diesel fumes that you can’t immediately escape. It’s obnoxious, obviously bad for the environment, and dangerous for the cyclists (not to mention other motor vehicles following or driving in the immediate area). I’m used to close calls — not a fan, but jerks gonna be jerks — but this is another level of anger and bullying I’ve not seen in the last 10 years.

                1. Quiet Liberal*

                  Yeah, in my extremely red state, it’s a thing. They even put smokestacks behind the cab of their lifted pickups (kind of like a semi) and the smokestacks bench out black smoke at every intersection. It’s illegal as hell, but I’ve yet to see a cop pull one of them over after they’ve engulfed all the Prius’s and Subarus next to them. *eyeroll here*

                2. JSPA*

                  Also directed at drivers of electric and hybrid cars. (Which luckily accelerate much faster than coal rolling pickups.)

                  I blame curated / served up video content. When an app serves you 20 videos of people coal-rolling [redacted-“tards”], it normalizes both coal-rolling and treating groups of people as disgustingly sub-human, and not worthy of basic human rights (let alone respect).

                3. Verthandi*

                  Several years ago, I was biking to a friend’s house. Some *^$@# slowed down to pace me, and threw water on me.

                4. Reluctant Mezzo*

                  Yes, it’s called ‘dieseling’ where I live and wonder of wonders, some people actually get tickets for it!

              2. CrinkleCut*

                Im from Melbourne, Australia, and since the pandemic several people have observed drivers
                – forgetting how to drive like civilised people.
                – Refusing to indicate when turning or merging.
                – Not turning on headlights in dark grey weather (which is especially dangerous in dreary grey Melbourne)
                – Drivers running into cyclists
                – Drivers being impatient with pedestrians trying to cross the road

                Its like most of humanity went out the window!

                1. Canterlot*

                  NYC here, and drivers are out of control since the pandemic. It is frankly scary. It’s a pedestrian city, and you get people barreling through residential areas of Brooklyn doing 55 and ignoring stop signs.

          2. Canterlot*

            This hits the nail on the head. I am no longer in any kind of public-facing role or industry, and people at my work are very polite and friendly and keep politics to themselves. It is all very civilized. But even so – there is a really weird level of – I don’t know – grandiosity and entitlement and prickliness and lack of empathy – that is grinding a lot of us down.

            I would buy the idea that growing narcissism is the core of what’s gone wrong, but class and region and context affect how it is expressed.

        2. SloanGhost*

          Yeah, we (very general “we”) have really rewarded and reinforced this behavior as a society and it has come home to roost. And the people who reinforced it aren’t the people who suffer from it.

        3. CorruptedbyCoffee*

          Yes. Our company used to take a really hard line on things like hate speech, but a lot of our tools for dealing with problem interactions that escalate have been informally dropped, and the org is so desperate to get people back in the door that we are being encouraged to tolerate things we wouldn’t have before the pandemic.

      4. Mallory Janis Ian*

        That’s what I tend to think. It started with internet anonymity and now the norms have just bled over, and apparently people like not having to monitor themselves.

        1. All+the+words*

          Internet anonymity and reality TV competitive terrible behavior. They seemed to develop and gain popularity around the same time.

      5. Burger Bob*

        I really think this is a large part of what’s happening. Most of the people who have been increasingly rude to me and my coworkers haven’t seemed like they were just simply stressed out and having a hard time or something. It’s more that they think the way they are behaving is perfectly normal and acceptable. Sometimes you feel like you’re in the Twilight Zone when it’s happening, because the behavior will seem so obviously not okay, and yet there they are, acting like it’s completely fine for them to be treating you the way they are.

    2. Office Sweater Lady*

      Yes, I think many people (myself included) who were working from home and isolated from people they didn’t know got out of practice with socializing, doing business out in the world, and traveling/leaving the house, all things which involve a certain amount of friction. This includes things like: putting on real clothes, packing a lunch, dealing with bus schedules, etc. It also includes interpreting and responding to other people’s actions. After months or years of spending time mainly with your household and a limited circle of outsiders, I think the ability to read and respond to the actions of strangers is reduced. The combination of forgotten difficulties like when the bus is late and now you’ve spent an hour of your day just getting somewhere (when you could have been home, being productive or even just relaxing) with being uncertain of others intentions, leads to short fuses, rudeness and under it all, a low-level fear. Hopefully as the world opens back up, we will be able to adjust to the routine and dealing with strangers again. I know for me, going back in person has been a process of many months adjustment, something I didn’t necessarily expect going into it. I have noticed it in my friends and colleagues, too – not that everyone is rude, but social interactions just aren’t smooth. Everything feels more awkward and disjointed than it used to.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        After months or years of spending time mainly with your household and a limited circle of outsiders, I think the ability to read and respond to the actions of strangers is reduced.

        You’re on to something here! There’s a category of relationships called “weak ties,” which are the people you interact with who aren’t strangers and also aren’t close friends and family (strong ties). These are the waitstaff at the restaurant where you eat every Friday night, the friends you only hang out with twice a year (or the quasi-friends you only see when a mutual friend hosts a party), etc.

        The pandemic basically gutted everyone’s weak tie relationships. People mostly kept in touch with their close friends and family and everyone else fell into the “stranger” category. But now we’re seeing the effects of losing all of those small, surface level relationships: we (collectively as a society) have become a lot ruder, a lot less able to deal with frustrations, a lot less able to generally be part of society.

        1. Yorick*

          And we’ve also lost a lot of weak ties because of turnover in retail and service industry jobs. The waitstaff that I used to know at my favorite restaurant or the cashier I used to know at the grocery store are gone and there are now strangers working there that I have to interact with.

        2. kicking_k*

          I strengthened a bunch of weak ties – in specific areas (parents at my children’s school, close neighbours) because during lockdown I communicated with them much more than normal. We spoke more to people on local walks, though at a distance. Now those ties are hard to maintain because we’re not spending so much time physically near home any more. I’ve got a number of people who I planned coffee dates with when we could actually meet for coffee…and we haven’t.

          1. Radical Edward*

            This is an excellent point – for a lot of people in walkable areas, and/or people like me, who had large groups of long-distance friends (who would normally interact passively on social media and only communicate on birthdays and Christmas, for example), the last two years created this weird surge in closeness… which has been subsiding over the last few months. While I can count on one hand the indoor unmasked interactions I have had since March 2020, I have never in my life had this many friends *at once* who are willing to call or text me for real conversations. And as soon as they were given permission to stop being cautious, so to speak, most of them abruptly forgot I exist.

            It’s almost like the Upside Down version of what everyone else is describing, but I think it probably has the same results – people feel unmoored and shaky, and that makes us defensive and snappish. It takes real effort to override all these emotions and Be Considerate In Public, and it makes sense that everyone’s internal regulators are just shot.

        3. AcademiaNut*

          That weakening had been happening in some areas before the pandemic too – the ability to order stuff online, for example, means you don’t need to interact with staff in stores and restaurant, the ability to use email to communicate means you don’t need to communicate on the phone in real time. The early stages of dating/meeting people has moved more and more online, and a lot of other socialization has moved into social media/apps which are not real time interactions, and where it’s easy to leave or block someone who is upsetting you, or just put the phone down and walk away if a discussion gets heated.

          I think back to when I was a shy kid – I hated things like phoning for information, or having to approach strangers for shopping. However, there was a constant stream of necessary small scale interactions that were necessary, and I gradually got better at it. A kid in the same position now never even needs to learn to answer the family phone line, so they don’t develop a lot of the lower level skills, which makes the higher level ones harder.

          1. Reluctant Mezzo*

            Although I will admit it was nice to downsize my Sirius subscription online without having to hear a quarter hour’s long sales pitch about why I should keep it where it is…

      2. Ace in the hole*

        Interesting. This would also explain why I haven’t noticed much of a change… I work in garbage, which means we’v all been working on site through the whole pandemic. But more generally speaking our regional economy is based on essential labor that can’t be done from home: timber, agriculture/aquaculture, fishing, public infrastructure maintenance, etc. Throw in that we’re in a rural area with lots of space, low population density, and mild climate, so meeting people outdoors is not only a safe option here but was already common pre-covid.

        I wonder if the increase in perceived rudeness/hostility is regional, with a bigger effect in places where more people were working from home or otherwise isolated.

        1. Stunt Apple Breeder*

          I think you might be onto something. The people I have encountered have been friendlier, more polite, and even openly relieved to interact with others. The few exceptions really stand out.

          1. Ace in the Hole*

            Yes, I actually noticed the most rudeness and hostility (especially at work) in the first year of the pandemic. I think that was because a lot of people were very scared, overwhelmed, and suddenly lost most of their ordinary support structures.

            Customers were hostile to us because they were terrified of getting sick but still had to come to our site to get rid of their garbage. Other customers were hostile to us because they were upset that some of our services had new, sometimes significant, barriers to access. And finally there were those who were hostile to us because they were angry about the overall political situation and we were convenient targets.

            On top of that, my colleagues were all more reactive than normal too… for all the same reasons as customers, plus an extra dose of burnout, safety concerns, and feeling abused/abandoned by society. We’re no strangers to rude customers or heated interactions, but I noticed most of my colleagues had a much harder time shrugging things off than they used to.

            Now that things have calmed down some and people in our community have more physical and economic security, I’ve noticed everyone is back to normal levels of politeness.

        2. Katie Impact*

          Conversely, I haven’t noticed a change either, perhaps because my job has been online and remote since years before the pandemic started. The worst people our industry has had to deal with have been about as bad as they’ve ever been, but not particularly worse than before.

    3. Lab Boss*

      Yes! At my actual job there’s not much change (we don’t interact with the public and we’ve never been able to be fully remote, so no huge changes on the inside). But I work with a student group at the local university that’s been online for the better part of the last 2 years- not just my group, but university operations. As things have come back to more in-person over the last year we’ve had some friction. Nothing particularly malicious but like you say- it’s like they’ve lost the knack for interacting face to face rather than the more abrupt and anonymous online version.

      One thing I’d add that I’ve noticed is that when interaction is online it’s more focused, even when it’s social/for fun. A lot of perceived rudeness and offensiveness seems to come from the fact that they’re making small talk and interacting the entire time they’re together, instead of just via focused text posts. When you’re standing there listening to someone hem and haw you get more impatient than if you go grab a coffee and come back to a reply message.

      1. ophelia*

        Yes, this – I feel like the first few times I saw my coworkers in person, I kind of defaulted to like, my Enthusiastic Facilitator persona? Everything felt a little too bright and forced. It’s gone back to normal now, for the most part, but it was like, “ok, I am used to having to directly manage conversations, what do I do now that we can just…talk?”

      2. whingedrinking*

        Pre-pandemic, I struggled immensely with doing an online master’s degree in a way I never did with my in-person bachelor’s, and I put a lot of it down to just this.
        When you spend time with people in the same physical space, there are those little exchanges – hey, how’s it going, crap weather we’re having – and the chance to form relationships outside the classroom. Even in strictly class time, you have a chance for micro interactions and reactions. Small things like laughing at jokes, nodding when a classmate says something interesting, etc. Whereas in an online asynchronous environment, while instructors did their best to create a sense of community, it’s very hard when almost every interaction consists of text on a screen or maybe a video/audio recording (which you’re also intensely aware is going to be read/heard/watched by the prof), with the occasional Zoom call thrown in. It gets stripped down to “I read this, and this was my takeaway from the assignment.” “Interesting. I also read that, and I had the opinion that…” It began to feel like I was interacting with a bunch of education-bots, instead of being part of a cohort.
        Perhaps ironically, I was studying education, with a particular focus on the effects of isolation on anxiety and motivation in learners.

        1. kicking_k*

          Yes! I had this experience too.

          We were supposed to foster a collegiate atmosphere by participating in online text chats (I think we Skyped twice and it didn’t work very well; this was 2006). I was a keen Livejournaller/forum poster at the time and so this wasn’t difficult for me, but a lot of the time I would post something… and nobody would respond. Or one other person would post and only I would respond. And then I’d feel like the weird kid who never shuts up, so I’d feel shy about posting. It was a vicious circle.

        2. Louise B*

          I’m currently taking online courses and I feel exactly the same. I have trouble even remembering I have a class because there’s just no connection with any of the students and only barely with the professor. Some of my former in-person professors are now very close friends or employers of mine, but online? I feel like I’m teaching myself, and I can’t bring myself to care about the 16 posts all saying that they’ve read the same thing I read.

      3. EngineeringFun*

        My sibling has been a university instructor for 2 decades. He teaches in and maintains a technology based classroom and workspace that students work in after class (class based and personal creative projects). Starting this semester, the workspace has been vandalized several times (broken desks & chairs, food left in the room, removing light bulbs, computer screen broken…). This is beyond the normal student stuff like “borrowing” equipment, leaving things not put away, and unplugging equipment. He’s asking “what’s changed?”

        1. ElenaSSF*

          In our local neighborhood chat app reports of theft are through the roof. This may be just better reporting but seems to me to be based on lack of risks (the police don’t bother with property crimes) and a sense that after 2 years of isolation youth just don’t view their victims as quite real.

        2. 2Legit*

          What’s changed? TikTok.

          TikTok challenges are a huge problem for K-12 schools. ie- knock out your teacher challenge. destroy the bathroom challenge. it’s terrible.

          And those K-12 kids… well, not all of them go on to college, but they’re growing up to become adult citizens.

    4. Sloanicote*

      I feel this in myself! I feel that I am impatient and untrusting of other people as I emerge from the pandemic. While obviously I am not abusive to staffmembers, I feel like people are dangerous (breathing droplets!) and that I’m out of practice accommodating the little inconveniences of public life like waiting (while people breathe on you!! Perhaps standing too close or not wearing a mask or not wearing it correctly – and who knows their vaccination status!!).

      I also feel the partisan divide thing far more strongly than ever before. It seems to me now that it’s not possible to be on the opposing side from me politically and still be a good person. I don’t think I used to feel that way.

    5. Velocipastor*

      I like to say people came out of lockdown “feral.” I’ve noticed a general rudeness/impatience/unhelpfulness everywhere I look whether it’s at work or at the supermarket. This also seems to manifest itself as total disregard for spatial awareness — both walking and driving. But as I read back what I’ve written here, I have to wonder if I’m the one who came out of lockdown with less patience for my fellow humans navigating the world. Perhaps we are all just burnt-out from 2 years of pandemic related anxiety, 2 years of realizing some of our fellow humans don’t care who lives and who dies as long as they get to do what they want, on top of 6+ years of noxious political turmoil

      1. Hats Are Great*

        Our kids’ school’s teachers and counselors have repeatedly reassured parents that all our kids are “a little feral” after lockdown and missing out on “normal” school for almost two years. They had two very unusual years of social/emotional learning, so they’re completely missing some skills that are “normal” for their age, but are advanced at others compared to non-pandemic peers. For example, the fifth-grade teachers say their kids this year are a lot more independent about tracking time and doing homework than they have been in the past, because of all the time they were remote and had to track a lot of that themselves before they typically would be asked to do that. But they’re struggling a bit to resolve minor playground disputes or self-organize games, especially in larger groups, because they went two years without really doing that, and they need some adult prompting to figure it out.

        I said something very socially-awkward in an interview, and I blushed and said, “I’m sorry, after two years of pandemic life, I’ve clearly forgotten how to talk to other humans.” The interviewers laughed and commiserated about similar gaffes, and totally excused me. (I got the job.)

        I’m trying to be similarly understanding when people are weird or awkward … none of us have had a normal two years, and we’re all bound to have gotten a little weird.

        1. Bee*

          I think going a bit feral is a good analogy. Here’s hoping we can successfully re-domesticate ourselves!

  3. A New CV*

    I work in retail and what I have always said to my colleagues whenever a customer is particularly disrespectful or rude is that many people have stresses in their lives with bosses, kids, partners, that they don’t feel safe to express, so they let it out on customer service workers because they know we have to be polite to them. I can’t “fight back” so I’m a safe person to take their stress out on. It’s gotten worse and worse over the last few years, definitely. People are caught up in their own misery and sometimes they let it out on people that they know they can get away with it.

    1. Kowalski! Options!*

      Experiences such as these are why I’m killing myself to be super-gracious to retail and restaurant workers, maybe even to the point of being weird. I hate the idea that someone is, essentially, bullying someone with little power to push back.

      1. Gray Lady*

        This is what I have always tried to do. Whatever is going on in your day, I am not going to be the one to make it worse if I can possibly help it. And if I can make it .0001% better by being extra nice, I know that won’t make up for all the garbage, but it *might* just help you get through it.

        1. A Feast of Fools*

          This is me. When it comes to retail workers — whether that’s in a store, restaurant, or a delivery driver — I do my best to make sure that their interaction with me is either pleasantly neutral or the highlight of their day.

          Even when, say, an online order has gone wrong and I have to call customer service to get it straightened out, I apologize to the rep who my call has been routed to and try to make a joke out of it (“Congratulations, you have just drawn the short straw and get to deal with the customer who has a problem!”)

          Because, yeah, I’ve noticed an uptick in crappy behavior towards folks in the retail / service industries.

      2. nancy*

        I have a part-time job in retail, the other day a customer was being SUCH A JERK to one of my co-workers (one of the nicest by the way) that other customers told him he was a jerk.

        1. 2 Cents*

          I can’t say I’ve been able to stand up to a fellow customer like that, but I do tend to apologize for other strangers’ behavior, like “I’m sorry that person was so impatient” or be overly gracious, like “I’m in absolutely no hurry! How is your day going?”

          I think the masks made it harder to see smiles and people forgot to smile.

        2. cardigarden*

          Having worked many years in retail, I’ve gone out of my way to call out the jerks because I’ve been on the receiving end of that garbage and now I have the ability to call it out like I wasn’t previously able to.

          1. Highered Escapee*

            I have done exactly the same thing. There is a general lack of respect for people, particularly female presenting people, in service jobs and it’s amazing how fast it stops when someone else calls out someone behaving badly. I spent a lot of years in the service industry trenches so I not only go out of my way to be kind and patient to people I’m working with in those jobs, I also suffer no fools on their behalf.

            That is part of what we’re seeing as a social trend, I think. We have politicians, famous people, and other folks who influence society who stopped with the dog whistles and started saying the quiet part out loud. They faced no consequences for doing so. Now every idiot everywhere followed their lead and we’ve got people behaving without any regard for others and those of us willing to step into the breech to defend those who can’t defend themselves. Combine that with COVID and it’s social chaos.

            1. kicking_k*

              Yeah. I’m a professional now but I’ve been a waitress and a retail salesperson and a data entry clerk and a temp on the end of a phone. I don’t come from a culture of Pollyannas, but if I can smile at someone or say thanks for being so helpful (in a sincere tone) I will. I don’t care if they didn’t go above and beyond. I have no idea what kind of day they had prior to helping me.

            2. Hats Are Great*

              I live in a pretty progressive area, and I’ve noticed that middle-aged mom-types have gotten very vocal about speaking up when someone is being a jerk or racist to retail workers or service people, whereas in the past they might not have. Now some guy will be a jerk and a 40-year-old lady is up in his face going, “SIR, THAT IS A VERY RACIST THING TO SAY AND YOU SHOULD LEAVE THIS STORE” and if he objects then six other middle-aged parents jump in to agree he’s a jerk.

              This used to be a community where people “politely” did not talk about politics or religion, to avoid creating drama or exclusion. But then one part of the country became all about exclusion, and from watching my community change as it happened and reading local social media, my impression is people have gotten relatively radicalized about speaking up for progressive values and defending community values (dare I say “family values?”), and a lot of people who might not have spoken up in the past feel like they HAVE to speak up to create the community they want their children to live in. Like, to be inclusive, you have to exclude the excluders, if that makes sense.

              (It’s also pretty clear a lot of parents in the community have done bystander intervention trainings, and I don’t know if that’s via their workplaces or maybe through the high school (my kids are younger) or maybe just their own political activism in the past several years? But, um, it’s amazing to watch in action.)

          2. Not a cat*

            I do that too as I have spent time in the retail dungeons. My niece works at Target (in a really rich area) and she’s getting really beat down.

        3. Gumby*

          My mother and I were once behind someone being a complete jerk to the person working the cash register at a department store. We didn’t say anything to the customer (but of course the perfect zinger came to mind after he left) but were super nice to the sales person. And asked when her break was coming up and delivered a fresh hot chocolate a few minutes before it. Because he was *so* *bad* and that woman deserved a medal for keeping her cool.

      3. Joanna*

        My goal, when I’m shopping in a retail environment is to be pleasant and respectful. Last night I had to provide a birth date when I bought some long matches for my grill. My first thought was “really. I’m clearly middle age”. But the cashier was just doing her job so I politely gave her the information she needed and then cracked a joke about it.

        As for rudeness and hostility in my profession, I have not seen any increase. Which I was a bit surprised about. I work in a large engineering company. There are a lot of anti maskers in my office and many of my coworkers think Covid is just the flu. I was concerned about what kind of comments I might get about wearing a mask in office, but no one has said anything. Everyone has been very polite interacting with me in a mask. I’m starting to think that everyone is just so happy to get out of their houses finally, that everyone is genuinely happy to see other people.

      4. skittish*

        I’m so nice it is a little ridiculous, but I’d rather play the fool than BE the fool.

    2. This is a name, I guess*

      I think this sounds right. It’s the same psychological impulse that leads to road rage and reckless driving, too, which has also been extremely high during the pandemic.

    3. Swiss Army Them*

      This quote from The Grand Budapest Hotel kept me sane in my retail and restaurant days: “Rudeness is an expression of fear. People fear they won’t get what they want.” Helps me keep some empathy for awful people.

      1. emmelemm*

        While I think that’s true (rudeness is partially an expression of fear), it doesn’t give me a lot of empathy. Of course you’re not going to get what you want sometimes! Deal with it!

        1. Kimmy Schmidt*

          I see it more as people fear they won’t get what they need. Almost everyone I know is dealing with some kind of anxiety-inducing situation. Skyrocketing medical bills, scrimp and save and still can’t afford a house, food insecurity, businesses closing, relatives sick or dying, cost of living exploding, people who want children but can’t afford them, people who want children and spend tens of thousands of dollars on IVF treatments to get them, lack of childcare… it’s all just so much. And there feels like no end in sight.

          People have always been people, and some are rude, entitled, jerks. But there’s a layer of fear too.

    4. anonymous73*

      I hope you also back them up to walk away when the rudeness reaches a certain level, because I don’t care what stresses you have in your life, abusing a customer service worker is not okay. When I worked in a call center, we were told that if someone started cursing you out or yelling at you, you were allowed to warn them once and then disconnect the call if needed.

      1. GlowCloud*

        I’ll never understand the mentality of being aggressive with people whose job is to offer help with things.
        Aside from the fact that absolutely noone deserves that kind of treatment, it’s super counter-productive to getting whatever it is one wanted in the first place.

        I still interact with customer service personnel as politely as I ever can, because getting people to help solve a problem for me is a collaborative effort.

        1. anonymous73*

          I was on the phone for an hour and a half with Verizon once, after having called them on 2 prior occasions, trying to figure out why they were charging me for something I was no longer using that had been sent to collections and was affecting my credit. This was 20 years ago and while the issue was eventually resolved, to this day nobody could tell me why the charge existed. Only a saint would remain patient and kind throughout that entire process.

          1. SpiderLadyCEO*

            Honestly, things like this might be CAUSING an uptick in upset/angry customers. It’s now really difficult to speak to the person who can actually help you – every single time I have had to call about my insurance, my phone bill, my internet service, my banking…I have been routed through so many calls to so many people and no one can help OR knows who can. And you just sit there in tears because what are you supposed to do?

            Companies are cutting down customer service to save money, and then the few customer service reps are treated poorly, paid poorly, and not empowered to actually aid the customer, so the company wins and the customer service rep and the client both lose.

          2. NeedRain47*

            This is def a contributor, I think. There’s no payoff for being polite. I’ve had this exact scenario with AT&T, Apple, United Airlines…. I was on the phone for ages and they were clearly NOT going to help me. Why should I be nice if I know for a fact they’re not going to do what I need? Also, I now dread just about any customer service interaction b/c it might be literally impossible to get help.

          3. CommanderBanana*

            I spent, no exaggeration, 9 hours in total on the phone last weekend with Comcast trying to get a service outage resolved (that is still not entirely resolved). I don’t think my blood pressure has ever been higher in my entire life.

        2. Zan+Shin*

          Yes 100%. Before placing the call I think, what is my goal, and how can I get the stranger in customer service to invest in it?

        3. Yorick*

          To be fair, sometimes it is SO FRUSTRATING and you can genuinely forget that your problem wasn’t actually caused by this person. Of course, you should still strive to be the most polite when dealing with something difficult. But now and then it’s understandable that someone snaps a little.

          But I’ve been seeing videos of huge tantrums in public and that is just something else.

      2. A+New+CV*

        Being able to accept a certain amount of disrespect and rudeness is just part of the job of customer service, unfortunately. It’s dehumanizing but it’s the reality. Obviously when it gets out of hand we can walk away. But both the casual disrespect and the egregious rudeness have increased lately.

      3. Kowalski! Options!*

        To be honest, I don’t do a lot of shopping (once a week, and quickly, at that), so I don’t witness a lot of client interactions. Most people I’ve observed just want to pay and get the hell out.
        My bigger concern is that, in defending a customer service worker, people’s pandemic frustrations would boil over and all hell would break loose.

    5. JanetM*

      My husband worked retail for 35 years and he concurs with your position — he has often said, “They are miserable people and abusing employees is the only power they have in their tiny little lives.”

    6. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I remember reading a list of user suggested stress relief activities somewhere, probably Bored Panda.
      One woman posted that she has learned a way not to go home and “take it out on her husband and family.” My lazy, chubby self was curious, but also braced for something like, I go to the gym, I bicycle home, I drink tea or something else anathema to me.
      Not even close.
      “I go straight from work to the grocery store and yell at the staff there so when I get home it’s all out of my system.”
      None of the responses recommended that her highness check Craig’s List for whipping boys looking for work, they mostly pointed out that she was an absolute trash human being.
      But like most unwelcome beings, if there is one, there are more.

      1. Robin Ellacott*

        Good lord. It never occurred to me it was actually anyone’s STRATEGY.

        Decades ago when I managed a local store there was a woman in town famous for complaining and making people cry, boasting that she just got someone fired, and so on. Maybe that was her deal.

        I ran into her years after I had moved on and she started haranguing me about signage in the store I used to work in. I told her I didn’t work there and for a moment I almost told her what I thought of her behaviour, but concluded she wouldn’t be able to hear it and walked away. I’m still not sure if I regret not saying anything.

        1. Scarlet Magnolias*

          Like Dorothy’s Auntie Em who wanted to tell Elmira Gulch what she really thought of her

    7. Aggresuko*

      In my experience, service workers are there to be abused, especially since they can’t stop people from doing it or defend themselves. If your job is to help people, it’s also to take their stress and abuse.

      1. Try*

        No one’s job is to be abused. No one’s.

        (… unless you’re a sub for hire, I guess? But even they have safe words.)

        1. Red Light Specialist*

          Not even then. We draw a firm bright line between consensual behavior and abuse, and even have community discussions about how to tell the difference. When it’s doing harm it’s not okay – and in this context, not your job, even if the client thinks it is.

      2. Nopetopus*

        It might just be that your phrasing is off here, but it is certainly not my partner’s *job* to be abused just because he is a server at a restaurant!

      3. The Last to Know*

        No. Absolutely not. Anyone coming into my place of work with that attitude will be asked to leave and not come back. I will reserve every right to deny you service.

      4. Bob-White of the Glen*

        I guess if you’re an employee it’s your job to take your boss’s stress and abuse too?

        Nope. It’s no one’s job to take (unwilling) abuse from anyone. And employees should be empowered to walk away from someone doing it.

        Thinking people are there for you to abuse as part of their job is gross.

      5. Bucky Barnes*

        I actually gasped when I read this. I hope this just came across differently than how you intended.

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          A prominent figure in American library training sent out an email to this effect just last week, it really is the way some people feel.

        2. SloanGhost*

          I suspect they did. I think what they meant was that this had been their experience AS a service worker. Not that it’s correct, but that it’s expected by the PTB. Which has been my experience as well.

      6. DrRat*

        I’m hoping this ended up coming out differently than you intended, because if this is actually your attitude, one day a restaurant server is going to stab you with a spork. (Kidding but not kidding – when an old boyfriend was a waiter and one of my grad school professors came in who had been making my life a living hell, boyfriend “accidentally” poured an entire pitcher of ice water over him.)

      7. Lenora Rose*


        They might not be able to stop people from doing it, and they might have to tolerate a certain amount of it to get their actual job done, and they are often served by learning de-escalation tactics to work around it or defuse it.

        But if a customer is too abusive, they also have the right to tell them to leave, not to put up with it (Which is a form of defending themselves). And it is management’s job to have their back, not to say “Take it or else.” (Yes, some management does the latter. That management is bad management.)

      8. Unemployed*

        As a former 911 dispatcher…this was a lot of the attitude in my center. Unless there was foul language or threats….. we’d have to be as nice as possible to the rudest and worst people.

      9. EmmaPoet*

        I am so glad my manager disagrees with you and will kick out people who are rude to staff.

      10. Chirpy*

        Oh absolutely no. Service and retail workers are there to help you find a product, not work through your therapy issues. It is definitely NOT a part of their job to take abuse or be someone’s punching bag.

      11. RedFraggle*

        No. No, it’s not my job as to take whatever abuse my patients think they need to heap upon me.

        It IS my job to help them in regards to their eyes. I’d strongly recommend NOT being abusive to people whose job it is to put things in your eyeballs.

        Just like it’s a really bad idea to piss off the guy who’s about to start an IV on you. Don’t. Just don’t.

      12. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        I don’t see the sarcasm in this Because of the experience I posted above. If there is more to this, please finish this thought.

      13. Gravitational*

        Apparently I have a wildly different read on this than the rest of the commentariat – I thought Aggresuko was saying this is how it works out *in practice*, not that it’s good, correct, or actually in anyone’s job description to be abused.

    8. Librarian of SHIELD*

      Yesterday someone got mad at me for telling her where the bathroom was. Apparently, telling her where the bathroom was meant I thought she didn’t know where the bathroom was, which meant I was calling her stupid and she’s not stupid how dare I insult a customer like that.

      I wish I was exaggerating. I really do. But almost every customer I work with now is on the worlds shortest fuse and I don’t know how much longer I can do this.

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          I was helping another customer at the time and she came over to interrupt and complain that the bathroom in the lobby was being cleaned. I apologized for the inconvenience and offered the key to the family restroom and said “it’s just around the corner there.” And in her view that was extremely rude of me. *shrug*

          1. DrRat*

            How dare you insult me by trying to be helpful, peasant!

            Honestly, so sorry you are having to deal with that.

      1. Meep*

        This was in 2012 when I worked at Safeway, but I had a female customer who just straight-up disliked me for some reason that I never fully understood at the time. We would always come into my lane specifically just to stand there glowering at me and making snide comments. One late night, it was another cashier and me. I was bagging for him because it was dead and she was forced to come into his line. Per usual, absolute pill towards me and absolute angel towards him. So I left to put baskets away as I wasn’t tethered to the register. I had no idea what he said to her, but the next thing I know she is screaming at me demanding if I thought it was funny and for my manager to lodge an official complaint. (Who came running upon hearing it.) All because I had the audacity to SMILE despite her being an absolute crab towards me for no reason.

        What actually happened: Apparently, my male coworker cracked a joke about how she seemed to be in a bad mood when I was across the store and clearly out of earshot. Her internally misogynistic* butt decided to take it out on me because /I/ was the one mocking her.

        My manager was a cool dude so he knew it was BS and whenever she ended up trying to get in my lane if he was there, he would send me on break and take over. Whenever he wasn’t and I had to deal with her, I just smiled my biggest smile at her and didn’t say a word to her.

        *At the time I didn’t understand it was because I was a woman, but now with more wisdom, I can see that it was. She was never sh*tty to my male coworkers – just us gals. Which is real sad when you consider the majority of the staff weree half her age so she must’ve really been stuck in that mean girl high school mode.

    9. Shiba Dad*

      People in customer service are “the help” to these folks. It is the closest these folks will get to having servants.

      These folk suck.

      1. ACanadian*

        When I retired from my full time job, I took a job at a pub and winery. I take no abuse and have the full support of the business owners. Angry customers are amazed when I won’t have any off their nonsense and the threat of telling my boss doesn’t seem to terrify me. The incidence of rudeness seems to have increased with the onset of COVID, as some people push back against any attempt to enforce COVID safety precautions.

        1. Shiba Dad*

          I wish more bosses backed their employees like yours does. No one should have to put up with abuse.

    10. AnonCaregiver*

      I’ve noticed this in myself when I have to call health insurance, elder care relevant phone lines, etc – anything that’s slightly emotionally weighted in an already tense situation on top of a pandemic, war, and financial difficulty and I feel like I’m always on edge. One time during a particularly difficult call I had to hang up because I knew I was going to lose my temper and I thought hanging up was the least rude thing option. It’s not been bad with retail or anything but slogging through the health insurance phone tree is so hard.

      1. megaboo*

        It does feel like things are more complicated. Trying to fix a medical bill you were mistakenly billed for can take a whole day.

      2. Joielle*

        Yes! I’ve looked into hiring a concierge doctor for this exact reason. It would be worth almost any amount of money to be able to call a doctor’s office and get the doctor on the phone, who knows exactly what is going on and has talked to all the specialists. And their staff would deal with the insurance phone trees and appeals and everything. My spouse has a complicated chronic illness situation and insurance and clinic phone menus are the thing that raises my blood pressure the most.

        1. Splendid Colors*

          A friend of mine tried One Medical and they did not deliver the higher level of customer service to justify the membership fee.

    11. People just suck*

      I cannot agree. I have worked retail on and off for more tham 40 years amd also worked in public-facing professional roles. Most bullies do not act out of low self esteem or life stressors. They are just belligerent jerks who ENJOY abusing those who cannot fight back and that is often retail amd CS staff. Sometimes they also deliberately behave badly in the hipes of intimidating staff to get their way (always breaking policy) or to get discounts. In fact on only one example, a friend of my husband was married to a woman who bragged about being a bully in every monetized interaction wih the goal of getting discounts/free stuff such as when she got free flooring in a kitchen reno. She bragged about never paying for a restaurant meal.


      1. Dragon*

        Agreed. Many people who’ve behaved badly during the pandemic, aren’t acting like jerks because of the stress. They are jerks, period.

    12. knitcrazybooknut*

      I think it was Barbara Ehrenreich in Nickled and Dimed who talked about the women with children who would come to the local Target and basically trash the entire clothing section, pulling clothes off hangers, and leaving tried-on items all over the floor. Her theory was that they were picking up after kids and partners all day, so this was their chance to be messy without consequences to themselves.

      1. Burnt Out and Needing Relief*

        As someone working retail, this is so not okay ugh. We are drowning between customers being complete monsters and colleagues calling out. Literally no one benefits because you can’t shop a trashed store. It has absolutely gotten worse the past few weeks, but the pandemic as a whole has been rough with entitlement. I think with COVID cases rising again, people are lashing out because they don’t want to believe it’s not really over

    13. Chirpy*

      Same, customers have definitely been getting worse. My store has a popular seasonal item that has to be pre-ordered, and this year’s shipments have had problems. Thankfully I’ve only had a couple of customers who didn’t get their order, and they were nice about it, but I’ve heard someone from another store that had their whole shipment just inexplicably not show up that people screamed at them more in one day than in the 8 years they’d worked there.

      Over the whole pandemic, I will say it’s been nice that customers almost stopped trying to grab me, but they absolutely are taking their frustrations out on retail workers. People will cross the whole store to scream at someone in a totally different department if they don’t immediately find something.

    14. Burger Bob*

      I work in sort-of-retail (pharmacy), and I just plain won’t take it. I’ll be polite to a point, but if someone is being actually abusive to me or my staff, I call them out on it. If they start swearing at us, I tell them to leave and not come back. I can’t for the life of me understand why that isn’t the norm for all retail. I just don’t think that companies should require their employees to accept outright abuse. Do you really want someone’s business if it comes with a heaping helping of mistreating your staff? (Of course, the sad truth is that some people at the top of big businesses are all too happy to sacrifice their staff in the name of one more dollar of profit.)

  4. Ihmmy*

    admin/office person in academia: very definitely people have shorter fuses, anger more easily, and hear each other less and less. Especially faculty in my nook, but some students too. People are burnt tf out and are taking it out on each other, which of course just exacerbates the whole issue

    1. OrigCassandra*

      Instructor and service-provider in academia: Very much same, and I’m not entirely innocent myself, though I am genuinely trying not to take out my megrims on others.

      I shut down the (free to the campus community) service I used to run entirely a little while ago because of overentitled faculty and emeriti. One trash-talked my work on the service to my face, and that was just — it. I was done.

      I’m currently job-hunting because of two other pieces of the picture: student needs have soared yet my capacity has not, and online and hybrid instruction modes just aren’t enjoyable for me, yet they’re devouring my work life. I’ve been a finalist for one job, gotten to phone screen for another, so I hope to have a Friday anecdote for everyone soon.

      Though I’m sad. I do love teaching and I think I’ve done good and useful work. I’m just… all the way out of gas and need to do something else.

    2. AGD*

      Academic advisor/instructor/miscellaneous-research-person here: a small number of people have been extraordinarily rude (at one point I had to deal with a senior faculty member who was acting like an angry three-year-old), but everyone else is doing their best and trying to be patient.

      As far as I can tell, the reasons why the students here are unhappy have the most to do with pre-pandemic concerns that I think are well founded (social equality issues, patchy/clumsy mental-health support strategies on campus). I think students have been very patient and understanding about online learning for the most part.

      1. Butterfly Counter*

        As an instructor/lecturer, the students are absolutely having a hard time, but it’s bleeding into a lot of entitlement as we have been as accommodating and flexible as we can be.

        Right now, with finals and papers due, I’ve had probably a dozen students asking for extensions… for no reason except that they haven’t done the work yet and want the extra time. Again, we have been flexible, but there needs to be a point that things are actually due and when I tell students that, tantrums ensue. (I absolutely still give extensions for genuine need.) The transition from online back to more regular schoolwork has be incredibly rough. I also think part of the problem is that a lot of students aren’t familiar with how school used to be before the pandemic, so the increased expectations and harder deadlines don’t feel fair to them.

        1. bleh*

          All of this. I don’t even get explanations for why assignments are late. It’s awful, and yet, I feel for them. They are going to feel climate change effects long after I’m gone.

          1. Sam I Am*

            Interesting! I never gave a reason for wanting an extension in academics unless asked for one. I was really on top of assignments in general, and often they didn’t ask for a reason. I figured they didn’t want to hear an excuse unless they asked. They would often ask when I would have it done by, or say something like “you can hand it in at the next lecture.”
            I wonder if this is a change? Undergrad conferred back in 2001, so it’s been awhile. I’m sure lots has changed.
            Anyhow I’ve told some of my own students (private, individual instruction) that “generally people don’t want to know why you didn’t get it done, they want to know if you can get it done and when that will be.”
            If someone else is holding up a part of the process that’s a different animal, I’m really asking about individual assignments.
            Do you think this is a bad approach these days?

            1. FromasmalltowninCanada*

              When I was in undergrad (graduated in 2002), I managed to get maybe on extension in the entire 4 year degree. They absolutely wanted a reason – with documentation. In fact based on the syllabus and the academic calendar you couldn’t get one without documentation – it was all clearly outlined. I knew up front what the penalty was for even a day late (normally a whole grade).

              I still work in higher ed, I don’t teach but I work in an academic department. Our faculty would not allow for an extension with out documented reasons. There’s a whole process for that. I’m kind of shocked that you would tell people that no reason should be required. It’s not work, it’s very, very different.

              1. Here we go again*

                The only time I asked for an extension for a paper in college was for the death of my mom. My professor took my word for it and was very understanding.

                1. FromasmalltowninCanada*

                  I’m so sorry. My mom passed when I was in grade school but I can only imagine dealing with that during college… I missed one exam in my life – I was so sick during my masters that I fainted and I had to get a doctor’s note for it (I didn’t have to pay for the note – or the appointment, Canada). When I brought the note into the Dean’s office in I still had the black eye.

              2. Anon for a Moment*

                I am the exact opposite of your faculty: I tell my students I didn’t need a reason but that I do need advance notice. I don’t want to spend my time trying to judge the moral value of different reasons/needs, and since I teach in a field where any kind of help was perceived as weakness, I want my students to ask for what they need to stay healthy without asking them to disclose more than they are comfortable, whether the actual reason is the death of a close family member or sheer exhaustion.

        2. HigherEdAdminista*

          This is what we are seeing too. No reasoning, not even an excuse. When people do offer their reasons… they aren’t things you would give an extension for. “I don’t check my planner so I forgot.” “I went away for a long weekend and didn’t get to work on it.” We’ve had people tell us they didn’t bother to read something that contained important instructions because it was too long; we aren’t talking about a 50 page document here, we are talking about a couple of pages. They do these things and are absolutely floored when they are told they aren’t being professional or will lose points on something, or that they can’t be recommended for certain opportunities.

          It feels like the expect nothing from themselves, but everything from us and they are angry when we turn out to be humans with limits or when their interest and participation is required to succeed.

          1. bleh*

            To answer Sam I Am: Oh I tell them details are none of my business if they start down that path, but I do like at least an attempt at something came up at work, home, other class, etc. I guess it’s the expectation that they just *can* turn things in whenever, and I will just grade them -deadline be da**ed – that seems rude.

            But HigherEdAminista is getting to the crux. Students expect us to be there constantly and they can just drop every ball. It’s exhausting, and colleagues with more classes/students are spending hours a day just tending to student messages, issues, and excuses.

            1. Sam I Am*

              Thank you, thos is good to know.
              I had a student tell me they didn’t get an assignment finished because…..they then listed off each day of the week, and told me they rest on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I suggested to them that while that may be true, it’s probably better to skip the reasons and tell me when they thought they could finish instead of listing off all the reasons it wasn’t finished. But most of my instruction is 1-on-1 so I often know if there’s been some sort of disruption in their lives.

          2. Meghan*

            I had an incredibly embarrassing situation last spring semester when I was about to graduate with a 2nd bachelor’s. I had done well in the class (online), done my assignments early, gotten A’s on everything and when I looked at my early final grade it was an F and I was floored. I went back and reread the syllabus and I had completely skipped the part about how you had to do 6 tasks from a certain section or you would automatically fail and I had only done 2 because I had earned enough points for my A and didn’t do anything else. So there I was, 34 years old, e-mailing my teacher to say “I somehow skipped that part of the requirements.” For that section you could either take a quiz, post a discussion or write a 500 word paper on the subject and my teacher agreed to let me do the work to make up the grade, except I had to write 4 of the 500 word papers, I couldn’t do the discussions or quizzes. I’m not even sure she read my papers because shortly after I sent them she was like “great you get an A.” It was just so embarrassing and such a head-slap moment because all I had to do was post 4 discussions or take 4 quizzes and who cared about the grade because I had enough points for an A, if only I had paid attention to that part of the syllabus.

    3. LunaLena*

      I am a staff member in a higher ed institution (though I don’t interact much directly with faculty or students), and I’ve definitely seen an increase in rudeness from students this year. There have been more incidences of littering, damage to school equipment and property, and vandalism. And it’s a very noticeable escalation too; earlier this year we had an ongoing issue in which students were deliberately causing thousands of dollars worth of damage to elevators. I don’t know if it’s related or if it’s just the Great Resignation or both, but staff turnover has been through the roof too.

    4. After 33 years ...*

      Yes, same here – from all groups – faculty, students, staff, even some in administration… I am finding myself counting days until retirement.

    5. Hall or Billingham*

      I work in academia (student affairs at a community college). Our faculty and staff have never been the pinnacle of kindness and gentility, which in my opinion stems from the fact that our institution is “only” 50-something years old and a not insignificant number of my colleagues have been here since the College’s first decade of operation. We are still fighting bad habits and entitlement from our “wild west” days. It felt like we were getting somewhere just before the pandemic moved us remote; now everyone is burnt out and exhausted. Morale is terrible and while people do rightly place a lot of the blame at the feet of leadership for this, I’ve increasingly noticed that we are less patient with each other and with students. It’s gotten pretty toxic!

    6. Rachel in NYC*

      (finance/admin in academia.) I’ve found possibly the opposite.

      my job is unique in that I’m quite literally giving people money. and we’ve long joked about how surprisingly hard that is. with the pandemic, we’re much more popular. I get a lot more emails with “thanks” and smiley faces and just general useful answers. (I love a useful response.)

      and even if something is taking months, people have generally been incredibly patient. they’ve understood that it takes as long as it takes and I’m not holding it up to be mean to them personally.

      1. KatieP*

        Also finance/admin in academia. It’s been a mixed bag. I got a really rude email from an undergrad yesterday, mad at me for asking his professor to nudge him to submit some legal paperwork for a trip he’s about to go on.

        On the other hand, if they need me to reimburse an expense, they couldn’t be nicer. Or faster with the paperwork.

      2. kicking_k*

        That is lovely.

        I did notice a definite changeover point when “This is delayed because of the pandemic” stopped being seen as a good excuse. It is still sometimes the reason, though. I’ve had tasks delayed a few times because my helpers got Covid and I had to find someone else.

    7. AdmissionsAmy*

      I also work in higher ed, but on the undergrad admissions side. We have noticed that parents of prospective students are so much more rude/hostile now compared to 5+ years ago. This behavior started before covid, so while some of them lash out due to mask mandates or vaccine checks, I think it goes beyond that. Many parents come into an interaction suspicious and looking to catch us in a lie. They believe that colleges are out to mislead them. Could it be because of broader suspicion of media/fake news? Could it be because of the varsity blues college admissions scandal? Could it be the increase of websites/discussion boards like College Confidential where misinformation is often spread by other students/parents who think they know what they’re talking about? I would love to hear other theories too!

      1. Nutella Versace*

        Interesting…I’ve put two kids into college in the last five years, and probably acted suspicious towards university staff, although hopefully not rude. Much of my suspicion was due to experiences that I had as an undergraduate, with unwritten university policies and practices that affected me financially. It may be that you are interacting with the generation of parents who were misled about eligibility, financial aid and transfer credits in the 1990s and paid dearly for it.
        I’ve found that universities have gotten so much better in the past 20 years. Now I’m maybe 75% less suspicious than I was in the beginning. Progress!

      2. Higher Ed Kitten Party*

        As I mentioned in a separate comment, I do believe there is this greater narrative that college is “already” free/”everyone already gets everything for free”/lots of students just live on grants alone/etc. and if a student doesn’t get something for free, they feel like its a personal slight. In fact, very little exists for free (and I would argue that living in poverty is not worth a Pell grant).

        Often the people leading these narratives (some who even received Pell) learned about financial aid and need-based funding when Pell alone covered 70% of cost of attendance. 70%!!!! Pell doesn’t even cover tuition at most colleges, let alone rent or food or other vital needs.

      3. Kate*

        I just came back from visiting colleges with my 11th grader, all small liberal arts colleges. When registering to visit it was clear that all visitors needed to be vax’d and boosted, two colleges required masks indoors, one required masks for visitors indoors, and the fourth had been masks optional for a few weeks, but the day before our visit (based on an uptick in area cases) they had moved to masks required indoors and had sent texts to everyone confirming the change the day before.

        YIKES. As a parent, I was thrilled to see all these schools prioritize the health of the staff, students, and community. But there were a couple of people on our tours who were angry that they were being asked to wear masks, and some intentionally put it on their chin and glared at the poor student guides who requested they put it over their nose and mouth. Their kids were visibly bored, rolling their eyes, and it seemed as if mom or dad had signed them up for this visit. I felt so badly for the admissions staff – they were doing their jobs, and some visitors really behaved in ways in which they should have been asked to leave.

        I imagine the population that visits each school varies by the nature of the school, but it was sad to see prospective parents/kids really be rude to the admissions office staff and student guides.

        1. AD*

          As someone who works in higher ed, I think a lot of the hostile media coverage of mask requirements in schools has really impacted how rude and hostile (mostly white and upper-middle class) parents have become towards educators (faculty, staff, administrators, etc.). During the last year in particular.

          Students (at the college and graduate school level) are burnt out across the board — and yes, there have been more instances of entitlement and rudeness that I’ve seen, but parents have just been flat-out nasty. I think many of them (that I’ve observed) think it’s fair game to take out their pandemic fatigue on teachers and educators.

    8. Chili+pepper+Attitude*

      Academic librarian here at a small private school. Pushes you would think toward incivility = all the usual COVID stresses and about half the student body come from incredibly wealthy families used to very high service levels.

      But I’m not seeing it. Everyone seems to be of the, “we are in this together” mentality and I’m grateful to work here. I greet tours of parents and students when I see them and everyone is kind and interested. The worst I see from students is they email again later if they don’t love my answer (no, I won’t do it for you).

    9. JMR*

      I don’t have to deal with members of the public much (lab scientist), but the biotech company I work at has a volunteer program where the scientists give Bill Nye-type science demonstrations for elementary school kids, particularly in underserved/underfunded schools or school districts. We encounter rude kids once in a while who call us dorks or sit and pout instead of participating in the lessons, but lately we have been encountering far more rudeness from parents and school faculty members these days. One teacher was an absolute raging dick to a group of volunteers that had gotten lost en route and showed up about 10 minutes late (these things happen, and they had called the school to tell them they were running behind schedule); one parent was irate because her child hadn’t been chosen to come up and assist with a demonstration (the scientist doing the demo had asked for a volunteer from the audience, and her child didn’t even raise her hand, but even if she had, she might not have been the one who was picked); another parent was furious at a volunteer for some perceived slight against their child, and when they didn’t know how to reach the volunteer directly (our direct phone numbers aren’t public), they called the general company phone line and yelled at the admin who answered. The head of the volunteer group has even received LinkedIn messages from school admins who wanted to complain about some aspect of our program they don’t like. It’s not worth it, and a lot of our volunteers are dropping out.

      1. DrRat*

        Unfortunately, it sounds like if your company wants to keep its volunteers, it’s going to have to establish some hard line-in-the-sand rules with this stuff. A teacher is a raging dick? Fine, walk out, report to the principal why they are leaving, pack up and go, and leave the teacher with the consequences. School admins want to complain? Block that school and let them know why. Parent starts yelling over the phone? Hang up and block.

        I had to deal with something like this at a museum I worked at years ago and we were draconian. The schools realized quickly that if they treated us badly, they weren’t getting our help.

    10. Nannerdoodle*

      I work in admin at the intersection of academia and healthcare. Everyone is just burnt out. People working directly with patients are dealing with shorter fuses on the patient/family end and bringing that back into the rest of their work. Grad students and PIs are frustrated because the incredibly long shutdowns for things pushed back timelines for research, which makes their lives more difficult because grants, publications, and potential graduation timelines didn’t really change, so they take it out on everyone who they see as “delaying” them.

    11. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      I’m an admin and the students seem fine with our mask requirements but its the outside community members that have the fit. There has been more tension with students with other problems on campus, and I’ve notice more remarks made than before.

    12. AA*

      I’m a burnt out academic and definitely feeling this. I’m in the UK and my union has been in an ongoing dispute with the employers over pensions and conditions since 2017. At this point I’m so totally exhausted by the way workers are treated in this sector that I’m leaving academia. My notice period is unfortunately 3 months so there’s a bit more to put up with but I instantly felt lighter for having made the decision to leave.

  5. CaffeinatedPanda*

    I’m a teacher, which seems to already be addressed above, but…1000 times yes. There have always been students who are rude or just don’t care, but it’s definitely on the rise. In the past, whenever I had conflict with a kid, it wasn’t constant – there were kids who were really stubborn but also very funny, or who didn’t want to do their work but would happily have a great conversation with me about their own interests. This year is the first time I have had students where every single interaction is marked with their blatant disrespect toward me and the entire school experience. They’re kids, so I know this behavior isn’t coming out of nowhere – their school experience has obviously been trashed for the last couple of years, and we’re only starting to get back to “normal” while administrators scramble to figure out how to make things work again. But it’s really freaking hard to deal with on a constant basis.

    1. Johanna Cabal*

      I’ve heard a lot about this from my friends and family who work in education. Even the better behaved kids act two grades behind. In one case, the third grade teachers at a school had to take an online course in managing tantrums. Third graders throwing tantrums has never happened before.

      (I hate to say it, but I think peer pressure kept my classmates and I from throwing tantrums. I still remember when the fourth grade bully threw a full on crying tantrum because he missed his turn at kickball and the teacher made him wait. He never lived that one down.)

      1. HeretoRead*

        Also a teacher, here. I’ve noticed it from families and guardians as well. I wonder if the pandemic +online learning + various school closures has caused a widespread shift in people’s perception of the education system and educators. Ive felt totally beaten down by kids and families alike this year.

        1. elizelizeliz*

          This is what I was coming here to say–the difference in how families are acting, the general level of anger at teachers and schools, and the resultant fear and stress of educators all feel VERY notable this year. I have probably had more parents be hostile toward me this year than my previous 12 years as an educator, combined.

          1. Not Your Mother's Principal*

            +1000 So.Much. Hostility!

            And related: COVID really made it apparent that many parents see us as babysitters, not educators. The vitriol that was spewed because we weren’t willing to risk teacher/staff lives pre-vaccinations is a major reason for my upcoming retirement.

            1. J.B.*

              I’m sorry you feel like that but I really feel like that phrase is part of misinformation. None of us got any support and most parents (or at least usually moms) are utterly burned out. I respect teachers as professionals but since I have to advocate for my special needs kid I will disagree politely in writing when necessary. The AP has decided that means I don’t respect staff as professionals, so then escalation is inevitable.

            2. NancyDrew*

              Let’s not do the whole “parents think we’re babysitters” thing again, please. The truth is teachers are indeed in charge of children during the school day. Our entire professional system is built around the concept that kids are being cared for at school, and yes, that was ripped away from families, to great detriment (to parents but also especially to children). So unless you’re trying to make a case for having in-classroom professional babysitters in addition to teachers, this argument doesn’t hold water.

              1. AnnieB*

                Well, I think parents who don’t think teachers are babysitters but rely on school so they can do their own work would have found online learning stressful and struggled to keep everything going, but accepted that it was just how things had to be. It’s when they start demanding teachers put themselves in danger to be able to teach in person, accompanied with profanity, disparaging remarks and suggestions of firing teachers who won’t teach in person – then I think yes this is probably someone who doesn’t respect me as a professional.

                1. Sam*

                  I think parents (especially those who were themselves working in person) could respect you as a professional and still think the distress their children were suffering in full-time Zoom meetings outweighed the COVID risks to the under-55 cohort (and yes, some teachers are older or otherwise more vulnerable, but that’s a reason to assign them the remote classes not shut the whole school district down).

                2. Sam*

                  Wanted to add – there’s no excuse for the profanity and so forth. But as a (non-threatening, non-swearing) parent my frustrations with the school closings were precisely because I see teachers as professionals. I don’t expect the entry-level person on minimum wage to go above and beyond in the hardest of times; of course many did, but I don’t think that’s a reasonable expectation. But a professional should understand that their value is in the results they provide not just the hours they put in, and so hearing from many teachers that remote school was almost as good because they were still working really hard… that was hard.

                3. whingedrinking*

                  @ Sam: Saying “I respect you as a professional” is not really compatible with “I get that you could die and all but my kids really hate Zoom classes.”
                  Teaching is not only notoriously low paying, but highly infectious. Teachers of young children in particular get sick *all the time*. This is crappy but tolerable when it’s a cold and you really love teaching; not so much when it’s a disease that is ridiculously contagious, debilitating and often fatal.
                  Also, saying “we can’t shut the whole school district down” – with respect, what exactly do you think would happen if schools had been left open throughout the entire pandemic? School districts are understaffed at the best of times. A lot of them are already functioning with the bare minimum they can. Teachers would get sick; some would die. A whole lot of other ones would say “eff this” and quit. I cannot imagine that children would be less distressed or getting a better education under those conditions than learning at home.

                4. Sam*

                  @whingedrinking – It’s true that teaching is in some places low paying; in Boston (near where I live), though, teachers earn on average $105,000. Not a penny too much in my opinion, but enough to be held to the kinds of expectations workers in other sectors meet.

                  And respectfully, for the under-55 group without serious preexisting conditions, COVID is not “often fatal”… for a healthy person in their mid 30’s, for example, even if you catch it, your risk of fatality is less than that of dying in a car accident in a given year. Not too say that as a society we should not take it seriously, but for an average (age, health) teacher on an individual level, the risk was always very small.

                  And it’s not just about hating Zoom. We’re now starting to see the effects – massive learning loss and mental health issues.

                  And if you take all of the above – that many (by no means all) teachers, even in areas where they are quite well-paid, pushed to stay remote, greatly understating the impact of that choice on the vulnerable people (children) they are paid to serve, while greatly overstating the impacts to themselves of in-person – well, you will get some very frustrated parents. Parents, who might, to be blunt, feel that these particular (again, by no means all) teachers are behaving in a less than professional manner.

                5. AD*


                  Without getting into your points about teacher pay and learning loss and whether they are in fact accurate, you seem to be missing the point that people are taking out their frustrations — from the pandemic, from lack of childcare, from a host of issues — on teachers and educators.

                  Those frustrations are valid but using individual teachers as focus of hostility does nothing to solve or eradicate those issues. They are societal issues and need institutional or government oversight to address and to solve. Your comments show a notable lack of empathy for teachers, who have been dealing with their own challenges. And if you seriously believe that primary school educators in the United States in 2022 are generously paid, I simply don’t know what to tell you.

                6. Squirrel Nutkin*

                  Yes, I agree with AnnieB and whingedrinking–the entitlement of demanding that teachers put their lives on the line to teach in person, and then further demanding that students not be forced to wear masks is staggering. I have several colleagues out with covid now, and several who have brought covid to their families, after our school dropped their mask requirement and over 80% of the students stopped wearing them. I don’t think our school would have done that if entitled parents hadn’t called up the upper administration and whined. Like, no, your kid’s enjoying not wearing a mask is NOT worth more than their teachers’ lives and health.

        2. Jules the 3rd*

          I think in the education and library systems that it’s the political / social atmosphere. The effort one group has been making to undermine public education through budgets / charters / vouchers didn’t go fast enough, so this past year the group has switched to a public opinion campaign. Schools are the current focus of the culture wars, and the additional focus in the media is excusing more aggressiveness from a certain group’s students / parents.

          1. Shiba Dad*

            The media is all too happy to report on the controversy and makes little to no effort to provide clarity about what is really going on.

            Theoretically parents involved in their child’s education is good. However, that requires parents to know what the f**k they are talking about, which isn’t happening in a lot of cases.

            1. HigherEdAdminista*

              Not to mention actually being the parents of the district. A lot of those very sensational school board meetings contained people who weren’t parents or even from the area coming to stir up trouble. It doesn’t mean that there were no legitimate parents doing that, but there was a widespread social media campaign to get “concerned citizens” out there to cause a ruckus.

        3. OtherBecky*

          I’m in higher ed, and I’ve been seeing a drastic uptick in unpleasant interactions with parents as well as with students. So many of them are CONVINCED they know better than we do about virtually everything and especially about pedagogy.

          Fall semester of 2021, we went back to having all the lectures for our large intro class in person. Because we record classes and make those recordings available to the students, attendance has always declined at a predictable rate, and that happened that semester too.

          Spring semester 2022, there was an uptick in Covid cases, the number of students enrolled was at the fire-marshall-imposed limit for our assigned classroom, and our lecturers had high-risk family members, so we moved lectures back online. Attendance declined at the exact same rate it always does, but we heard from SO MANY students and parents that the decline was 100% due to classes being online. The level of indignation and incivility in the emails and phone calls we got was really distressing. It left me feeling awful for people in jobs where the client/customer has more power than they do, because if people were being this rude and demanding to the folks who determined their grade in a required class, how must they be treating cashiers?

          1. OtherBecky*

            (To clarify: we would NEVER retaliate against a rude student by decreasing their grade, but it’s still a relationship where we’re the ones with more power, and that didn’t seem to matter to them.)

          2. Aggresuko*

            Another fun thing about working at a college: getting a stalker. People will harass the bejeezus out of you until they get what they want.

        4. I dropped the internet on the floor*

          I agree. I think the pandemic closures (and openings and closures) probably accelerated what was already happening – the deprofessionalization of K-12 teaching – coupling it with a kind of creeping economic thinking that seems to affect how we now think of education. Not that teachers aren’t professionals, or don’t require lengthy education, training, and continuing ed, or that they don’t need to be certified – I know all of that is necessary. But teaching as a profession has been so devalued at least over the last decade, by local school boards and state legislators and folks at the federal level, all of whom want to improve schools but repeatedly fail to ask THE VERY PROFESSIONALS trained to understand it, what they need and want, in order to provide for their students’ success.

          Those repeated interventions, along with the constant reminders that the educational system in the US lagged behind other developed countries, including some of our geopolitical adversaries, also trained all of us, the public, to think about US education as something we needed – and were all entitled – to have opinions about. I am not saying some of the innovations that resulted weren’t helpful, nor that the intent behind mass testing and No Child Left Behind wasn’t noble and right, but the implementation and the fallout from those attempts at school reform have in some instances been fairly disastrous or resulted in a culture of policing teachers and students in a way that made me, as a student teacher, recoil from ever standing before another high school classroom. (I have since (and prior to that experience) only taught college students.)

          But the devaluation of teaching intersected during the pandemic with a subtle but growing market logic affecting the roles of teachers. It is right, of course, to be concerned for the well-being of students and their parents, but it alarmed me that there seemed much less concern for teachers and staff and their concerns. Most of the depictions of teachers and staff with, to me, reasonable questions about safety and health, conveyed those worries less than sympathetically. School systems that simply required teachers to show up, whether they felt safe doing so or not, seemed to be following this thinking. It goes like this: teachers are required to provide a child with the agreed-upon product or service (for many, an education; for some, the education might matter less than the GPA). And when the product cannot be delivered, complaints will be directed at the teacher, at the school, at the principal, at members of the school board, or others. If an online vendor fails to deliver my gardening tools on time, I might leave a scathing product or customer review. (Honestly, I probably wouldn’t, but I might.) Listening to the ways in which teachers have been pummeled in public over the last two years, their concerns about whether work would expose them to a potentially fatal disease often painted as an individual recalcitrance and not a legitimate workplace issue, some of the worst complaints have sounded like one-star reviews for the product Education, in much the same way I might review a vendor’s failure to deliver a product. I imagine many of the complaints teachers and staff are getting in person are perhaps due to this shift in how we think about the vocation.

          1. 1LFTW*

            Listening to the ways in which teachers have been pummeled in public over the last two years, their concerns about whether work would expose them to a potentially fatal disease often painted as an individual recalcitrance and not a legitimate workplace issue, some of the worst complaints have sounded like one-star reviews for the product Education

            The number of people in my area who complained about the teachers’ union “not wanting to work” because they didn’t want to return to classrooms where the windows didn’t open was horrifying. You’re totally right; teaching has been de-professionalized over the course of the last few decades, with parents re-cast in the role of “consumers” who are “purchasing” a certain level of test results for their children. Teachers have been remade into the “vendors” of these test results (or GPAs, or college acceptances, or whatever the commodity) who are getting one-star reviews on Amazon. If teachers want better reviews, I guess they’re supposed to lower their “prices” and deliver more commodities while working longer, harder hours with fewer breaks, I guess… just like Amazon warehouse workers.

            1. singularity*

              And the loudest complaints of all typically come from people who would never tolerate the same working conditions for *themselves.*

      2. Hlao-roo*

        It makes sense to me that students are acting two grade levels behind socially. I think your peer pressure explanation is spot on. Kids who are in third grade this year haven’t had “normal” school where they see their peers every day since they were in first grade, so they are lacking ~2 years worth of peer pressure to act their age.

        1. Princess Xena*

          I don’t think it’s just peer pressure – it’s also that they’re lacking ~2 years of normal social interaction. No clubs, no sports, fewer or no playdates with friends, libraries closed, restaurants limited, churches limited, school moved online – every place where a child would normally learn social interactions has been closed, limited, or restricted. Younger kids in particular have never gotten any experience in how they should act in public spaces.

          1. the_scientist*

            Indeed. My seventeen month-old has lived his entire life in “pandemic mode” and has been utterly deprived of many of the normal social interactions he would have had while I was on parental leave that would start to teach him how to behave out in the big, wide world. He’s never been to a story time at the library, or to a play group, for example. We’ve never taken him to a restaurant. He’s unaccustomed to large social gatherings and interacting with a number of people at once. Obviously there’s a limit to what you can reasonably expect from a young toddler in terms of public behaviour, but I think when you start taking kids to things when they’re young, they learn both from experience and by watching their peers, and in our case we’re sort of starting from scratch at nearly 1.5 years old.

            1. Princess Xena*

              I have several friends who are a little older than I am and have 1-3 year olds and they’re reporting similar things. I’ve noticed their kids are super clingy, do not handle stimulus well, and struggle with social behavior. They are all doing their absolute best and I’ve also been able to see things improve for them but my heart goes out to them and all the parents that have to figure out how to socialize small children when there’s not a lot of places where they can.

      3. Scarlet Magnolias*

        I work in a library and went into the elementary school in March to portray Molly Brown from the Titanic for Women’s History Month. Haven’t done it in 2 years and always enjoyed it. Visited 4 classrooms and made my speech. At the last class a second grader stood up and screamed “You’re old and fat!” at me. “And you are very rude” I replied. So yes on all counts that people are not all behaving well.

    2. This is a name, I guess*

      My sister got Google Certified coincidentally right before the pandemic. Even having to troubleshoot at the curriculum delivery issues for her coworkers and teaching students with chaotic home lives (limited internet, sharing one device with multiple siblings, no privacy in multigenerational houses) remotely in 19-20 and 20-21, she says 21-22 has been the absolute worst year she’s ever taught in 11 years.

    3. Y'all Come Back Now, Ya Hear?*

      Consistent, constant disrespectful behavior from students is definitely on the rise. It’s exhausting and really hard to deal with. And the parent emails and comments on district Facebook posts are exhausting. But you’re right – their school experience has been trashed for the last couple of years.

      I’ve though about getting out. But then we have a great day and I realize why I’ve stayed in teaching for a decade. I’m applying to places for corporate jobs but I just don’t know. I’m tired of getting disrespected, getting yelled at, and being called awful names for asking a kid to put up their phone or to stop filming their classmates.

      1. Clorinda*

        High school teacher here: my juniors are on odd mix of “I’m almost grown and you can’t tell me what to do” and “I’m still basically a ninth-grader, help me”–usually the same student at the same time. Even though we’ve been back in school five days a week since December 2021, it’s like they are frozen in place in March 2020, and I’m really struggling with how to help them.

        1. Princess Clutter*

          Parent of 3 teens here, and my two in high school have definitely expressed this feeling of being behind 2 years in growth. For the little kids who have never experienced a normal school year, it’s hard. It is equally odd for students in their final high school years to feel like they are really having those growth experiences. I also work in higher ed, and our most recent crop of first year students were struggling to a level not previously seen.
          The number of high school students I’m seeing that are planning a gap year, or university students taking a break from studies feels much higher than it had been previously

        2. Annie*

          Yep, 25+ year high school here. The students are needier than ever, and my tenth graders act like eighth graders, and I’m scrambling to figure out how to help them while feeling exhausted and without tons of coping mechanisms myself, while administrators insist on clinging to old schedules and tons of pointless meetings and procedures. I also think there’s a lot of delusion that somehow in September everything will be “back to normal,” as if we won’t be playing catch-up for years to come (and is if the trauma is magically over).

    4. anonymous73*

      Kids who have no respect for authority have parents who exhibit the same behavior and since there are no consequences enforced, there’s little you can do to fix it. My kid is in his HS marching band, and they play at football games on Friday nights. The parents wait in the school lobby after the game for them to be dismissed, and we are the only ones allowed to be in the school building at that time. After one game this past fall, some students were banging on the door to let them in to charge their phone. When we told them no, they started banging on the door so hard I thought they would break it while screaming obscenities at us. Thankfully another parent had the principal’s number and we knew he was around so we called him to handle it. And the mouthiest one was mouthing off to him too. It’s sad, and I can’t even imagine what teachers have to put up with on a daily basis.

    5. singularity*

      Yep, I teach high school and everyone is on a short fuse. Students are either blatantly disrespectful and rude to their classmates, teachers and other staff, or they just ignore you completely as you they don’t care at all about anything. So many of my colleagues this year are quitting, and quite a few of them are leaving the profession altogether. The combination of added job duties and expectations, chronic discipline problems not being handled, having to give up conference/planning time to cover other teachers who are out due to staffing/substitute shortages, lack of community and parent support, have all converged to create a perfect storm of terrible behavior that’s caused a lot of new and veteran teachers alike to throw in the towel.

    6. Middle School Managment*

      Fellow teacher here, and it is spot on. Students seem to vacillate between apathy and angry at the drop of a hat. Every single correction, whether from an adult or a peer, is seen as a personal attack, and their immediate defensive mechanism is to go on the attack. Emotionally, kids are closer to 3 and 4 years behind “normal” than the 2 years we have lost thus far. Similarly, parent attacks are on the rise, too. We seem to have gone from signs in teachers yards, lauding them as heroes, to every single interaction being hostile. I can’t even call a parent for a proactive behavior chat because I get challenged and blamed for every little thing. Overall, it is exhausting, and it is going to lead to a huge teacher shortage way sooner than I think school districts are anticipating.

      1. Alison M*

        The counselor at my son’s school described it as being like “having a school full of kids on the autism spectrum”, which is probably not the most tactful way to put it, but she is completely besieged with kids who were doing very well socially before and now are struggling with emotional regulation and social interaction.

        My son’s paraprofessional and special ed teachers are so burned out, though, that they’re taking it out on him the last couple months, and I’m starting to lose my sympathy. They’ve taken to calling any behavior they don’t like “babyish” and telling him he’s “going to be a baby his whole life if he doesn’t grow up”. And this is for behaviors that are expected and have management plans detailed in his IEP. He’s gone from loving being back in person the first semester to begging every day not to go to school since “he can never be good enough for Mrs X”. After fruitless meetings with his special Ed teacher and IEP team, I have elevated it to the principal with a meeting on Monday.

        So, yeah, teachers are burned out, and I support anything we can do to help out, always voting for property tax increases or school bonds, making careful choices in my school board votes, and supporting pay raises and volunteering in any way needed. But it breaks my heart to see my little guy cry because some 40-year-old staffer took her temper out on an 11-year-old who couldn’t fight back.

        1. fleapot*

          I’d say that “having a school full of kids on the autism spectrum” isn’t just a tactless comment; it’s totally unacceptable. It frames autistic children as a burden, and demonstrates an understanding of struggles with emotional regulation and social interaction as pathology, not as a part of *all* childhood development. This counsellor has managed, simultaneously, to stigmatize neurodivergent children while trivializing their disabilities.

          As an autistic adult, your first paragraph made me intensely concerned for neurodivergent kids at your son’s school. The second paragraph made it clear to me that mistreatment is happening.

          I can tell that you’re advocating for him (more than anyone advocated for me at 11!), and that you know that this situation is unacceptable. But please understand that his teachers aren’t just burned out and taking their stress out on him in a general way. There is no way that these people were not ableist before the pandemic. If I had to guess, I’d bet that they used to pull off an act along the lines of “I love helping these special angels!”. Scratch the surface, and the attitude underneath that act is intensely ableist—authoritarian, dehumanizing, othering, and (again) trivializing. Under a bit more strain, it’s harder to perform that kindhearted helper role, and the authoritarian becomes more apparent. The “special angel” is now infuriatingly “babyish,” and the teacher demands that they “grow up”—which is code for “obey me, because it’s my job to make you normal.”

          This situation makes me think of the recent letter from a PA who was in an abusive situation with her boss/CEO. Alison advised her to get out immediately. Many readers rightly expressed concern for her safety—especially commenters who’d experienced abuse and could *feel* the danger.

          With my own experiences as an autistic person, I feel the danger here. The stuff your hear about—and that breaks your heart—is the tip you should of the iceberg. Your son is not safe. If it’s at all possible, you need to get him out of there.

          1. Alison M*

            Thank you so much for the reply! Your perspective is extremely valuable to me as a spouse and parent of people with autism (and someone who has many of the same traits myself). I will say things have been excellent until the last two years, when almost the entire support and special Ed staff rolled over.

            In the past, we had no trouble setting up excellent IEP strategies and getting them followed — he had made enormous progress prior to the pandemic. Next year, he will be moving on to the middle school for 6th grade, and I have already discussed the transition planning with the excellent staff there who also supported my daughter during her middle school tenure. We are really hoping he will have a similarly good experience there.

            I don’t really have the option to pull him out right now, but I will be taking this issue as far as it has to go. Your comments added some urgency to my mission, so thank you! I think I will try to loop in the middle school special ed team to what’s going on to see if they can provide some kick in the pants, as well!

          2. a good mouse*

            “This situation makes me think of the recent letter from a PA who was in an abusive situation with her boss/CEO. Alison advised her to get out immediately. Many readers rightly expressed concern for her safety—especially commenters who’d experienced abuse and could *feel* the danger.”

            Do you have a link to that story? I missed it and couldn’t find it looking back through the recent archive.

    7. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Quarantine blurred boundaries across the board. Work, home, school, parent, child went from overlapping circles to one big blob.
      Parents working and monitoring school. Kids doing school work and living kid lives. All in the same place and time. Seems like it should defy the laws of physics – instead, it just destroyed the rules of behavior.
      Kid is frustrated school, complains. Parent is frustrated with work, kid and school. Complains, too. Slowly, the kid’s perception changes:
      Parent talks about school and teachers like this, therefore I can, too.

    8. Siege*

      I work for a teacher’s union. Labor can be much blunter and ruder than other industries, but there’s a shocking rise in violence in the classrooms from students. We have a couple members who’ve received permanent injuries. Since they work in programs with at-risk youth it’s not the biggest surprise, but I kind of wonder how much of it is caused by parents being ruder and worse-behaved where kids can see or feel it.

    9. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      I feel for teachers now (and for the past few years). I wonder if any of the disrespect is attributable or encouraged by disrespect at the government level? My state set up a “hotline” to report teachers for …anything you don’t like? “Divisive” content etc. Other states are sort of waging war on teachers, too, it seems.

    10. Dobby is a Free Elf!*

      It’s not better as the parent of a kid who is *genuinely trying* to do his best and who is, as far as I know, not incredibly rude in the classroom. I’ve heard over and over this year “fourth grade is just hard.” No…no, it’s not this kind of hard. These kids are…rough. They’re disrespectful. My kid has been bullied all year, in part, I think, because he actually likes to learn and finds it frustrating that so many of his peers just…straight up refuse to work, or want to copy off of him, or spend their days doing things like cracking other people’s passwords so that they can screw up their online platform scores. I don’t think they’re all like that, but there’s a very vocal bunch. I do not envy his teachers.

      1. HigherEdAdminista*

        This is true too! We saw this even at the college level. Students privately spoke to professors to say actually they found the class to be a good class or appropriately challenging, but that they were afraid to speak up because their classmates would ostracize them.

    11. A+Teacher*

      The expectation of taking work whenever students feel like turning it in– like weeks or months later and students and parents upset when told “no.” Parents upset their kids aren’t getting the grades they should be getting: work is done IN class, I don’t expect homework, I also build in extension for all students to turn it in without a late penalty. Students that expect me to take the missing code off their work because they don’t want parents mad at them. Countless excuses or justifications for late work or no work turned in. Escalation in behavior when you ask someone to stop doing x or y. It has been a hard year.

      High school teacher and adjunct at a junior college

    12. Math Counts*

      I’m a teacher in a prison system. I don’t have problems of entitlement. I have strict boundaries & rules for behavior with strong consequences if they aren’t followed.

      I don’t have the problems the teachers in the public schools have AT ALL!

      Teaching here is GREAT!! Much better than anywhere else. 8 hours a day & you are done! No homework!!

      Hey! Come join me “inside the fence”!! Seriously, it is much nicer here!

      1. learnedthehardway*

        I think you’re on to something there – it’s a lack of consequences that fosters bad behaviour. Put in consequences, and suddenly people start behaving a whole lot better.

        1. J*

          I would absolutely agree with this! Since the beginning of the pandemic we’ve been “giving the students grace” and cutting them slack everywhere – behavior, classroom expectations, late work. It’s not doing the students any favors, and now we’re dealing with overwhelming behavior issues and apathy around schoolwork. Students know that there are no consequences. My high school is doing “Summer School Now” where students can complete grade recovery before the school year has even ended. They slack off for the whole first semester then complete a packet to bring their grade up to passing. It’s ridiculous.

    13. Unkempt Flatware*

      What about the teachers? Are they taking it out on kids too? I come from a time and place where teachers treated us like livestock. Yelling, pushing, controlling. I always think about how I would react to my old teachers if I were a kid in this pandemic with them.

    14. J*

      YES. I’m a high school teacher and the attitude, apathy, and disrespect this year are crazy. At my school it doesn’t help that our administrators either can’t or won’t support us the way that we need to curb this behavior. There are so many teachers with one foot out the door. We even have a teacher on leave pending an investigation because he was pushed too far and his reaction was inappropriate. This is a veteran teacher who has plenty of behavior-management tools in his toolbox, but we are all feeling a bit powerless in our own classrooms.

      1. Elf*

        Yeah, the administrators not having your back is the worst part. My high school has a terrible problem with students not bothering to get to class on time. I was recently in the hallway about 5-10 minutes into my prep period and came across a small group of students standing in the hallway having a conversation, having not yet gone to class, and when I said “You’d better get to class” I got “You’d better mind your business” back – and there was nothing I could do about it. No administrator in my building is going to back me up on something as straightforward as telling the kids to go to class. Next time I probably won’t say anything, because you shouldn’t start something you can’t finish.

        1. Math Counts*

          Which is why I no longer teach in the public schools. Admin doesn’t have your back & a good portion of the students don’t pay attention to rules. I tried and tried, but admin did nothing except blame me and the other teachers. I got out 10+ years ago. I teach in a prison & it is so much better. The need is great and the students deserve an education & are willing to work hard at it. If they don’t, I can’t worry. They lose privileges and opportunities. The ones that study & work hard… they don’t come back.

        2. J*

          It’s so sad because my admin absolutely had our backs when I started here 3 years ago. Idk what happened to change that part of the equation. But there’s so much that i ignore now because nobody else will care, so why should I? I had a student who skipped my class (and most of his others?) For 4 straight weeks. I kept writing him up, but there were 0 consequences. Now hes back in class and his case manager is telling me she’s going to help him get his work done from the time he missed. And I’m just supposed to accept it? It’s BS.

    15. HS Teacher*

      I’m a high school teacher and haven’t noticed any worse behavior from my students (although some colleagues have had more issues this year than in the past.) However, the parents are nuts right now. They either completely ignore calls and emails or they’re the extreme opposite with no regard for my time or personal life. I don’t work 24 hours a day, but I think remote learning and how accessible many of us were during it has spoiled them.

      I’m using out of office replies when I’m on PTO, which is something I’ve never felt the need to do before. In the past, I think the attitude was that people will get back to you when they can. Now, the attitude is that everyone wants a response immediately, and if you don’t respond you’re not doing your job. I’m passive-aggressive, so rude, demanding people go back to the bottom of my pile. I don’t need to aggravation.

  6. Eeyore's Missing Tail*

    I’m in higher ed and almost exclusively work with current graduate students and applicants to our graduate programs. I’ve noticed an uptick in the number of applicants and students getting upset with decisions that they don’t like. It’s ranged from applicants upset that we require the GRE or can’t give them a TOEFL waiver to current students upset that not all classes hand out A’s just for showing up.

    1. anon e mouse*

      I’m now ac-adjacent rather than in higher ed proper, but I still have a lot of academic friends and acquaintances, and oh man have I seen a lot of “worst year of my career” posts and tweets lately. I think it was Paul Musgrave who recently hypothesized on Twitter that essentially student relationships have historically been non-monetary compensation for underpaid faculty, and those relationships are on average bad right now, so lots of academics are feeling bad about their careers.

      1. This is a name, I guess*

        I also think the pandemic laid bare the full authority that the ascendant high-level administrator class has at the university, to the detriment of faculty, students, and lower-level admin. Students don’t understand this relationship, so my guess is they take out their frustration on faculty and not the greedy trustees and 2353425 Deans and major individual and corporate donors and (in some cases) state legislators, who have essentially financialized higher ed and who have made financial decisions/investments that were dependent on in-person instruction and student loan dollars. Therefore, you see universities make decisions about Covid that don’t align with students’ best interests, faculty’s best interests, or the community’s best interest. They were more aligned with university’s financial interest.

        All of this was already there, but the pandemic made it more obvious.

        1. Ally McBeal*

          Yep. I worked in higher ed when the pandemic hit, and I was dismayed at how many institutions prioritized their finances over everything else. I am firmly in the camp of “if there was ever a time to dip into the endowment fund, a global pandemic is it” – particularly for the universities with huge endowments, which was not the case at my institution – and no one will ever change my mind on that. Students were already fed up with administrations to begin with, and experiencing the hypocrisy first-hand made it so much worse.

          1. hs*

            As an adult in my 30s who has gone back to school during the pandemic (and also works), I will say that I have only a single instructor who has mentioned that a pandemic is happening, and absolutely zero of my instructors have taken into account the massive amount of stress students have been under for the past several years in terms of course design. Which is also because my instructors are overworked and underpaid! I think there is a bigger systemic issue where we are all continuing on as normal while mass COVID death continues to occur. We might all have more capacity for empathy if there were any allowance for grief or reprieve.

            1. This+is+a+name,+I+guess*

              I mean, I’m in the exact same position as you and all of my college instructors have been incredibly compassionate about the pandemic’s realities. So, I’m guessing it’s really dependent on the institution.

          2. This+is+a+name,+I+guess*

            That’s because their endowments are financialized. It’s not a huge savings account. It’s an investment fund that’s highly restricted, thanks to donor-centric fundraising practices and thanks to the financial regulations. Universities are essentially operating their endowments like investment funds. And, many of the people running the financials on endowments are actually former finance execs who received golden parachutes during the 2008 Recession. Go look at senior leadership at many large universities. It’s all business school people and bankers. My university lauded itself for hiring a female president, but she’s still a business school shill. Her being a woman doesn’t make it any better.

      2. Cece*

        Worst year of my career (in higher ed, non-US), partly because we’ve been going flat-out without a break for two years now, in an already-crumbling sector. Staff have left after the first hard year and aren’t replaced due to financial strains and hiring freezes; some students enjoy being back on campus and others think of lectures/seminars as optional and then get frustrated when they don’t do well on assignments. Masks not mandatory so only a few of us comply, meaning negotiating the risk of daily interaction falls on our own decision-making.

        And yeah, I thought teaching to a bunch of camera-off students on Zoom was alienating. That was until I had a semester of 30% classroom attendance at best, but never the same 30% so there’s no way to build community or cohesion in a class week-on-week.

        1. Squirrel Nutkin*

          Yeah, the lateness and attendance issues are off the charts this year, especially for first-year students. They’re just not going to learn as much as students during previous years.

    2. rural academic*

      Also in higher ed, and I have heard of way more parental complaints this year than in previous years. The students I’ve encountered have generally been polite enough (though I’ve heard some much less pleasant stories from colleagues), but I’ve definitely seen more stories of parents going to the administration with grade complaints, etc.

    3. Medievalist*

      I’m in higher ed as faculty and running a department, and have seen both increased hostility and increased grace across our campus. Colleagues have gotten increased grade complaints from belligerent parents, usually citing the pandemic as grounds for appeal (even when the case in question was usually thoroughly documented as having no pandemic connection, and simply an outright violation of the academic code). Faculty complain loudly about students’ distraction and atrophied skills, and staff complain about faculty missing internal administrative deadlines. Offices around campus are short-staffed, and more mistakes are happening in the administrative work that have major consequences for faculty and students, and fray tempers and trust further. Everyone needs more help, and there’s less help available… so anger, snapping, and complaining are all growing. There’s a disconnect between what we expect from one another and what we are capable (both mentally and physically) of giving one another right now.

      But I have also seen some wonderful moments of grace. I have seen colleagues step up to offer independent studies, unpaid, to get students to graduation after the pandemic disrupted their planned paths of study, and administrators support students impacted by war/displacement. I have seen administrators get extremely creative to find ways to begin hiring more faculty and staff again, to relieve some of the burdens. I’ve appreciated the offering of free meals to ease workday stress, and public recognition of student/staff/faculty work on behalf of the campus community. These moments don’t necessarily offset the general mood of exhaustion and frustration, but it’s a glimmer of hope.

      1. After+33+years+...*

        Thank you for reminding me about seeing the positives, along with the problems!

    4. Monty*

      As a graduate student and TA, this year has been pretty tough.

      I’ve noticed that first-year students this year have had generally worse writing skills than other first year cohorts I’ve taught (obviously because education has been so scattershot the last 2 years). This means the class does poorly compared to prior years, leading to backlash from both my students and professors/admin who want to know why I’m being so hard on them. The reality is that I try as hard as I can to have grace with my students and to offer thorough feedback and support on their assignments.

      At all levels of instruction, we are noticing that students are angrier, more ready to lash out, and much more willing to call into question the instructor’s qualifications when confronted with adversity. I have had students grill me about my qualifications and then complain to the prof that I shouldn’t be allowed to grade their work as I have not earned a PhD yet. It feels like there’s a constant urge to escalate situations towards conflict and admin involvement, even over something as small as a B instead of a B+.

      One of the other things that teaching staff at my university have noticed is that there’s been a huge uptick in no-shows, where students will book a zoom meeting and then not turn up at all. We think it might be that zoom feels so ephemeral that it doesn’t carry the same weight as standing up a ‘real’ person. This factors into the problem with writing/grading because it’s hard to provide support to someone who doesn’t turn up to the meeting. It’s also hard to make someone feel like I’m listening via email.

      1. F.M.*

        Another grad student and instructor to an intro class here, and it’s been…odd. Last year, when I was TAing/grading for lecture courses, I had a small number of students who were excited about the material, and a lot who were there to get a gen ed ticky box ticked, and didn’t care beyond that. Lots of people not showing up to class, blatantly cheating, et cetera.

        But as an instructor? My students are largely great, and if anything, the main change I’ve noticed from previous instruction years is just how stressed they all are. Half of the discussion of grading with my supervisor and colleague this year was about how to reduce student anxiety, because the students seem so overwhelmed, and they’re dealing with a lot. Lots of ‘drop the lowest grade’ stuff in categories, being flexible about due dates, that kind of thing.

        So on my side? I have my own pandemic stress to deal with, but my students have all been great. I do worry for them, though. They spend so much time apologizing every time they miss class or need an extension on an assignment–even if they have a documented accommodation that should make it automatically no problem!–or, heck, even for coming in a few minutes late. I’m not sure why I’ve been so lucky, compared to others here. But in general my students have all been great, and I just feel so bad for whatever else is going on that makes them uncertain and anxious and stressed. Especially when they’re so apologetic about asking for things I’m more than happy to give them. A few days of extension on an assignment, excused absences… It’s all fine. But they’re clearly very worried.

        I do know from some fellow grad students that there are professors who are really grouchy about documented accommodation requests (despite all the hoop-jumping and paperwork and work required to get the darn things), or missing class for issues like “I actually have covid and am laid up with a fever,” but they’re ones outside my department. Maybe I am just really lucky, both with my advisors & profs on the one side, and students on the other.

  7. Justin*

    At my recently-ended job, I wasn’t in a purely-public role, so I can’t speak to rudeness, but there was a whole lot of nastiness and low morale among colleagues and clients. Mostly I assume people are stressed but management wasn’t good about supporting folks’ needs so it spilled over.

    And so I left.

    1. Hawk*

      Seconding this. We’ve had more union drama in the past six months than we’ve had in the 7 years I’ve worked in my job. It’s like the people I’m working with never worked in customer service before, and some of them started with me or before me!

    2. Wolf*

      Good point about the management. Some still haven’t realized that they need workers, and they still act like the workers depend on them.

  8. OrganizedChaos*

    I work in an office setting and I have noticed a recent sharp difference in the attitudes of those staff who do not have children/families having to pick up more slack for those that do. It is like there is a lack of empathy or understanding. I am also seeing some of those with children/families displaying more of a sense/attitude of entitlement, automatically expecting that others would “naturally” pick up the slack. Its a balancing act. A sad one that both parties can’t/won’t realize that everyone needs to work together.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      It’s been two years and counting of picking up slack. We’re exhausted, too. That it’s for a good cause doesn’t mean it’s not extra work and no end in sight.

      I’m not saying parents aren’t suffering, but they’re not the only ones and the fact that people without kids don’t have kids doesn’t mean they have endless capacity to make up the difference.

      1. Frankie Bergstein*

        Agree. The entitlement is real. I’m not saying parents act entitled – not at all – I’m saying that entitled people use their kids as justification.

        1. Lab Boss*

          Good distinction. Entitled people will always find a way to justify their entitlement- and when they have kids, they’ve got a legitimately strong justification that it’s almost impossible to reject without doing more harm to the non-entitled parents.

    2. Bagpuss*

      I think that this has been a bit of point of tension for a long time – not by any means everyone in either group, but I think there has always been a sub-set of parents who do expect those without to work round them, and others who don’t demand it but do start to take it for granted when it happens, and I would say that this has been made worse by the added demands on the time of people with children when the schools were closed , and the knock on effect on the people without, so it’s burnout on top of existing patterns and feelings of resentment.

      1. mp*

        I would frame it differently… I would say that children have become the only “acceptable” reason to advocate for your own work life balance… so parents use it (maybe on occasion too liberally) but there is no equivalent for the childless that doesn’t come with some blowback (maybe MAYBE some charity commitments)

    3. anonymous73*

      The bigger problem isn’t so much with each side having empathy for the other, but the company being supportive on both sides. If a company is willing to support parents by piling on the non-parents then it’s going to create a lot of resentment.

      1. EarlGrey*

        Exactly – as a kidless person I don’t get the sense that my parent colleagues feel entitled to my time, i get the sense that the *company* feels entitled to my time more so than theirs.

        1. A Feast of Fools*

          Yep, this is mostly an issue with the companies, not the parents.

          In my 20’s thru my 40’s, I seriously contemplated making up children with each new job I took, just so I could get company-sanctioned, company-paid-for time off to take care of my “kids”.

          Now my elderly mother and disabled brother live with me. I’d honestly prefer to not disclose that at work but when I don’t lie about having children, the companies I’ve worked for since they moved in with me start encroaching on my time to pick up parental slack.

          It’s dumb that I have to have “acceptable” family responsibilities to not be expected to take on other people’s work.

      2. n.m.*

        So much agreement. The burden to accommodate parents should be on the parents supervisors, not the parents coworkers.

    4. Really?*

      Im so done picking up slack because “i dont have a family.” I may not have children but I still have parents and a spouse. People with kids who weaponize having kids as a get out of jail free card have really worked my last nerve. I dont care if McKayden or Braylon has sports and you need to leave early. Im not working until 7 to pick up your pieces every night.

      1. thisgirlhere*

        I think this is a huge part of it. I was caring for a dying relative during the pandemic but everyone assumed I couldn’t possibly have anything to do because I didn’t have kids. And as soon as I mentioned other responsibilities, it became about one upping. Lots of people tried to prove that it couldn’t possibly be as hard as they had it (not just parents).

    5. Dobby is a Free Elf!*

      Honestly, I think this is a systemic problem that needs to be addressed by the organization(s) as a whole. Yes, non-parents are freaking tired. It’s been a hard couple of years, everyone is stressed, and I think a lot of them picked up a lot of slack in the early days of the pandemic, when we brought our kids home with no childcare options and no idea what we were doing next.

      Parents are tired. Not only are we dealing with the same pandemic-era stress–and little reprieve, no time to sort ourselves out–but now, all of the activities that we weren’t doing are suddenly opening back up again. Sports are back on. Activities are back on. And we’re feeling the pressure to get our kids back involved even when we’re already struggling to keep up. On the same note, we know our kids can still end up at home for a minimum of five days and up to two weeks or more without warning. Mine are vaxxed, and literally within weeks after it should have taken full effect, they both caught Covid. Luckily, my husband (who also caught it) and I both work from home.

      Organizations need to acknowledge that. I am sick of organizations posting record profits and then insisting that they can’t increase staffing to account for their actual needs–including these needs that “someone has to pick up the slack” for. I know there are industries where overtime is kind of the norm, and I know there are things that come up, but if things are coming up every couple of weeks or more…it’s time and past to hire someone else to help take on some of the load.

    6. Nanani*

      Well, they don’t though, now do they? -Management- needs to actually manage and staff appropriately so that no one is pressured to take on extra. Pitting workers against each other over a demographic difference like parent/non-parent is a diversion from the real problem, that being the higher ups picking barebones staffing and inadequate cross-training in the first place.

      Understanding is nice but it’s not the real problem.

    7. Turingtested*

      I’ve noticed that some people use their kids as a frequent excuse and it gets old. I worked with two parents in the past. One could never work as scheduled due to issue after issue with her child, her house, her parents. (None health related or personally disastrous, always like the plumber is coming over, my childcare is unreliable, etc.) She never sought back up baby sitters etc. The other parent was careful about scheduling PTO as needed and had rock solid child care and never used her kid as an excuse.

      It was very hard to have sympathy for the first person. I got the impression she was disorganized and expected everyone else to deal with it.

      I was taught that if something happens more than every 90 days it’s not an emergency it’s a part of life you need to anticipate and plan for.

    8. NewPuppyMom*

      Yeah, I mean, it has been two years of picking up the slack. We’re tired. I don’t think I lack empathy or understanding, I just…don’t have anything to give anymore.

      I got to work early last week and realized I’m the only one who actually works 8 hour days. My coworker who told my boss she works 8 to 4 rolled in at 8:45. My other coworker usually works 10 to 3:30. We all get paid for 40 hours. We’re paid hourly.

      I just got a new puppy, and now I’m also getting there later and leaving earlier, as well as actually taking my full lunch break to go take care of the puppy. I’m usually the one to pick up the slack, and it’s probably going to cause a problem some day when I actually can’t just skip lunch to do someone else’s work because I have to go take care of my puppy.

  9. Wisco teacher*

    I’m in k-12 public education and holy cow, there are a lot of parents and community members out there who now see us as the enemy. Add simmering tension between pro-mask and anti-mask staff and the general burnout in our profession and it’s rough right now

    1. Hollywood Handshake*

      Also in K-12 Ed. We had the most number of parent complaints (including finding our administrators’ personal cell phone numbers and calling them on weekends/vacations, calling federal agencies to get administrators fired for following state mandates they felt I cringed in their freedoms, etc.) than ever. This was also paired with the lowest rate of parent volunteerism and positive engagement with the school. School has changed from a part of the community to the enemy to be fought with. So discouraging. Everyone seems to have lost the ability to see others’ perspectives and show compassion. The isolation of the pandemic paired with surrounding ourselves with media that makes it seem our worldview is the only one and everyone else is wrong must be a large part of the problem.

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      I am so scared we’re going to lose some of the wonderful teachers to those folks. My kids teachers are certainly hit or miss, but the good ones are excellent and I would hate to chase them out of the teacher profession. I’m the child of a former public school teacher, too. In talking to my kids’ friends’ parents, a lot of us are trying to make sure that teachers know we appreciate what they do, will support them outside the classroom, and expect our kid to behave like civilized human being (to the extent teenagers can) in school. I’ve written a lot of thank-you notes with CCs to the principal and school board district rep as well.

      I also live close to Loudoun Co., Virginia, which has also become the poster-child for anti-“CRT” (NOT PART OF THE CURRICULUM TO START WITH) and their school board is the target of the current governor who won based on the whole parents-should-have-a-say-in-public-schools platform. It’s wild to me that just two counties over, things are so markedly different than my school district where most kid are still voluntarily wearing masks and enjoying being back in the classroom with their friends and having activities.

      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        Also in Virginia, with a teacher spouse. I think for SURE teachers are going to leave. And my husband’s experience trying to find out about getting certification without an undergrad teaching degree (short story: it’s practically impossible) makes me very concerned there aren’t going to be enough teachers to fill their spots.

      2. Susie Q*

        As a LoCo resident, I’m exhausted by our inept school board. We’ve had school board members make insanely racist remarks along the lines of “slaves should have been grateful”, complete mishandling of on-campus sexual assault of students by a fellow student. The superintendent gave everyone a bonus last year EXCEPT the poor teachers who got a commemorative coin. Then we have a PE teacher funded by a megachurch sue so he doesn’t have to respect students’ pronouns because of freedom of speech and Jesus. Tons of Youngkin supporters middle-aged white moms who have never had formal training in education or curriculum development try to determine curriculum because they don’t understand what CRT is and realize that it’s never been a part any Virginia curriculum. Also masks bad because of freedoms.

        This county is exhausting.

        1. Cat+Lover*

          I’m a LoCo resident as well- I was a student until 2013. Thankfully I don’t have kids so I’m not involved in the school system anymore- but still watching it all unfold is….. quite something.

    3. Isben+Takes+Tea*

      A close friend is at a K-8 private school and while student behavior has been a little escalated, she says there has been a stark increase in the entitlement, rudeness, and antagonism on the part of parents towards teachers and administrators. From the start of the pandemic, there has been an increasing attitude of “You’re not doing your job properly because you’re not doing it the way I think it should be done,” and not just about pandemic-related issues: even down to how they’re arranging chaperones for field trips and modifying the hot lunch schedule!

  10. Lana Kane*

    Healthcare has always had its share of rudeness, and I thought it would abate as the mask mandates lift, but I sometimes think its getting worse. Clinics are having staffing shortages that are extending the amount of time between available appointments, and more patients are verbally abusive to staff when they hear how long waits can be. This is breaking a lot of suport staff. In my opinion, aside from all that is going on in the world, we keep seeing our leaders behaving in appalling ways and facing little to no consequences. I think it emboldens people to vent frustrations that they would have otherwise never thought was acceptable.

    1. Princess Xena*

      I have friends in healthcare and one thing that has made things more challenging (in my specific area at least) is that during the worst of the shutdowns hospitals really limited their elective and nonemergency procedures. Which was a reasonable decision at the time for infectious disease control purposes, but one of the side effects is that my friends have been saying that the patients they get have been much sicker and the staff are stretched much thinnger. And patients have to wait longer, often in pain, which does not make them display their best selves. Not to mention that our local hospitals got called out by the Washington Post as having some of the worst staff policies in the country during the pandemic which has driven away a number of staff which makes everything worse.

      None of this excuses people venting their frustrations on staff. That is entirely unacceptable behavior. But there’s a definite thread of frustration with the system going on now.

    2. Lauren Kennard*

      I’m in healthcare too. I never expected people to be at their best when they come to the hospital, after all, if you need my services, you probably are frightened, or in pain, or feeling so sick that maybe your manners aren’t on point. However, the amount of general rudeness to staff has increased, the entitlement of some patients and their visitors (and honestly the visitors are the WORST) and the level of actual verbal and physical violence has reached an untenable degree. The pandemic certainly accelerated things, but it has been growing for some time. And the worst part is: administrations accept it! Have a punch thrown at you, or a patient claw you with their dirty nails? The response from leadership will be: and what could you have done differently in that situation? The blame gets shifted to the front-line staff rather than the systemic issues which lead to a situation where violence and abuse occurred.
      It is very demoralizing, and has changed the narrative of what I tell people when they say “I want to be a nurse”. I’m no longer bright and encouraging, and I miss the part of me that was passionate about mentoring new and prospective healthcare providers.

      1. HigherEdAdminista*

        Wow. You know, last year I had a procedure that I had to go into the hospital for. I made sure to thank people frequently and to be flexible, and the healthcare workers were so incredibly nice to me. Even the ones who started off guarded, seemed to quickly let down their guard. I assumed this facility must just an excellent employee hiring and training, but thinking now that I might have stood out just for trying to be decent to them makes me really sad. They certainly deserve better.

      2. Burger Bob*

        I feel the same as a pharmacist. I hope to avoid any conversations with people considering pharmacy as a career, because I’m so burnt out by all of this that I just can’t recommend it. I used to love it. I’m still good at it. Now I want to get out as soon as I am financially able to do so. I’m tired of being treated so badly by patients and the company.

    3. the+cat's+ass*

      YES TO THIS. Many of us continued to work through the pandemic and are toast. Abusive behavior to front desk staff results in a revolving door of employees who don’t want to take it any more and who can find other better paying jobs. And we are STILL dealing with the unvaxxed and the unmasked or the unwilling passive aggressive maskers who take the mask off, don’t wear it appropriately etc.

      And I’m not even talking about the driving behavior in the parking lot; WTF is up with THAT?!?

      1. ThatNeuroNurse*

        Yes 1000%. I work in Healthcare and changed hospitals at the start of the pandemic. One of the reasons I left my last hospital was that patients expected a lot of coddling…which I’m less than great at. But a coworker who had been on my new unit for 15 years or so said that patients were getting sicker and coming in with way worse symptoms than before due to the pandemic.

        And now things are getting harder/worse because so many of our staff are leaving for various reasons, mostly work/life balance related ones.

    4. AnonForThis*

      I’m not in healthcare. I have been reduced to tears in a conversation with my doctors receptionist and now have huge anxiety about calling them. I am sure from the receptionists pov I was a rude patient.

      In my case, I tried to book an appointment through an app that I’ve used previously with this doctors, but it was showing no appointments. I then spent some time on the website clicking through various pages, but found nothing on how to book an appointment online. I then phoned up, where before you join the queue you get a long recorded message about how you shouldn’t phone unless you absolutely have to, and how the pandemic has made everything much harder. By this point I’m already thinking ‘ok maybe my migraines aren’t *that* bad and they’re going to think I’m wasting their time’. When the receptionist picked up they said no of course there were no appointments on the app because that wasn’t the system any more (fine, but not sure how I was supposed to know that), and then said ‘yes you can book an appointment on the website, you need to go to x subpage’. I was then basically like ‘ok I couldn’t find it from the homepage but I will look again’ (If I know something is there, I will find it!) and tried to end the call, to which the receptionist was like WAIT LET ME FINISH (clearly annoyed at me) and proceeded to go over in great detail how to click through to the page. I’m sure I was short in what I said but the whole situation of ‘don’t contact us unless absolutely necessary’ had made me feel guilty and panicky before I even started. None of this is intended as an excuse for being rude to healthcare workers. But there’s a lot of anxiety and other mental health problems going on and some of those who come across rude may really not intend that at all.

    5. Kat*

      I got my BSN in 2020 (yikes). I was so, so excited to find this second career for myself and I really believed I had found my calling.

      Fast forward to 2021 and after being abused not just by patients, but by administration at my hospital – I now only work per diem very, very occasionally. My love and joy for nursing is gone. I’m no means the only nurse this is happening to. My hospital is now 75% contract nurses and I fear for the safety of patients. But, administration doesn’t care. They’d rather pay a traveling, contract nurse 4x my salary than increase my wages and benefits to keep me full time.

      I worry for the future of healthcare, but I’m grateful for my first degree and that I don’t have to be a part of it. And when nurses like me, who were passionate and GOOD at their jobs, are feeling this way – we are in trouble as an industry and as a nation.

      1. Kat*

        edit – 2022, not 2021. But I went per diem at the very end of 2021. After beginning to work as a tech in January 2020, it only took about 18 months to fully kill my spirit. Every other nurse I know, and every tech, and most doctors are struggling with burnout, depression, and grief. I’m not unique by any stretch of the imagination.

  11. The Lexus Lawyer*

    I’m a lawyer, so hostility has always been a part of the profession.

    Even though being able to negotiate with opposing counsel is an important skill.

    I do think high maintenance clients have been becoming more de rigueur though..

    1. Ainsley Hayes*

      Also a lawyer and yes, definitely.

      In our jurisdiction, the courts are still backed up. New protocols make it so every county is doing things differently both from one another and from how it was done pre-Covid. Clients are frustrated, lawyers are frustrated. All that frustration leads to rudeness, hostility, and other negative adjectives.

      1. Lorelai*

        This is the case here in Florida. It’s madness. I get the frustration – it makes planning a challenge – but don’t take it out on us. (Also, I heart Ainsley Hayes).

      2. Delta Delta*

        Also a lawyer. I sense a lot of tension between people, generally, lately. I’ve seen a huge uptick in certain kinds of filings. I’ve also seen a lot of abusive language in pleadings that I’m sure is there just to make the writer feel better.

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      I also work in legal, and I’ve seen a lot more hostility between parties and overall frustration, but the associate (and experienced staff) markets are so tight that the partners can’t afford to take their frustrations out on them or they will walk for substantially more money and filling their positions will be a nightmare. I know we are having a terrible time getting responses from the courts, which frustrates the attorneys – it took me three days to locate a human being to verify someone’s US District court membership and renewal date recently (put that online consistently, US Courts, and it will cut down on calls), and the attorney was fit to be tied at the situation (not us) by the end of it.

      The client tension, in a lot of cases, precedes the pandemic – we were seeing a lot more commoditization, competition, and rejection of the billable hour. In my experience many lawyers struggle to see what they do as a business service instead of a form or art and are struggling with being treated like just another “vendor” or having hard budgets or AFAs.

    3. Bagpuss*

      Also a layer, and I’ve seen more aggressive behaviour from other lawyers. I work in family law where there is a huge emphasis on being able to work collaboratively, negotiate etc . There are some among the lawyers who I deal with on a regulars basis who have never been very good with those skills but I’ve seen more aggressive behaviour from people I normally have a good working relationship with . I don’t know if it s that they are burned out, or that they are being pushed harder and more aggressively by their clients or both.
      we’ve got issues with a change over to a new, mostly online system for certain types of pleadings but they’ve axed a lot of the old facilities before clearing off the backlog of old system cases – I just today got a response from a letter I sent to the court in October, and have had automated response saying they are currently dealing with correspondence received in December , which is ridiculous. I’ve got several cases which are stalled because we can’t proceed without a document from the court which is backed up by 4 months , and of course clients can’t understand why we can’t finalise things …

      (And on a personal level, I’ve definitely had a few moments where I’ve drafted a letter or e-mail and then decided I need to put it to one side and edit in the morning because I’ve let my irritation bleed through too much)

      1. Kotow*

        Also in family law and the increased hostility from both clients and attorneys is definitely noticeable. I think I really started noticing it in the past 8 months or so. A lot more parties are fighting just to fight, it protracts the litigation, then they get mad at their lawyer for charging for the time spent. The lawyers aren’t even doing much to reality-check their clients about what’s reasonable and what isn’t and the number of all caps emails has skyrocketed. It’s almost as though people have forgotten how to interact with each other!

    4. Crater May*

      No idea if this relates to Alison’s question but I was recently a party in a small claims case. The disputed amount was $1800 for a terrible job a handyman did at my house.

      Mine was the last of four cases.

      I was sick to my stomach by the time we got called up front. The first three cases had lawyers for the side with the most money (a veterinarian, a property management company, and the same property management company countersuing).

      All cases boiled down to some simple points (Is it a veterinarian’s duty to catch illnesses in pets that pet owners wouldn’t catch because the owners haven’t been to medical school and the vet has? Is a property management company responsible for a renter’s loss of money when the renter didn’t file a claim with his own insurance company when his apartment flooded?).

      But the attorneys made it personal.

      They made the opposing side out to be willfully malicious and evil.

      The attorney for the veterinarian made the pet owner (an elderly woman with a disabled adult daughter) sob-cry because the attorney accused her of hating her dog since she didn’t take it on daily walks. The woman got *yelled over* when she explained that she lives on an acre and throws tennis balls for her dog’s exercise every day. It was so gross. (“Admit it! You never cared about that dog! Stop saying it was like family to you!! You were happy it died so you wouldn’t have to pay any more veterinary bills, weren’t you?!”)

      The attorney for the handyman did the same thing to me.

      I used to be fascinated by the law and our legal system and now it just sickens me.

      1. Delta Delta*

        The attorneys should not have done that and unless the points were relevant (which they might have been) the judge should have cut that off. While courts can’t help pro se litigants, neither should they tolerate behavior like you described. If you don’t like what happened you can make a professional responsibility complaint.

    5. J*

      I’m a paralegal but also was going to say it’s always been a hostile industry. There was enough of a shift, between the labor market changing, firm layoffs at the beginning of the pandemic, and many other things that I completely shifted roles in the industry once again. It’s better but I definitely am dealing with people who already hated the timelines of the legal system pre-Covid and they cannot understand that things like court backups, limited capacity of outside counsel, and USPTO/IRS issues mean things take longer. I can repeat it 30 times at every step of a project and I will get messages daily to check in on a status that I already told them had a 90-day update window and I’d tell them as soon as I heard something.

  12. Meow*

    I work in IT where our “customers” (if that’s the right word) are other IT people, not the general public. The people I’ve worked with for years seem mostly the same as ever, but there’s a weird trend of new employees coming on at our clients organizations and just being… needlessly rude to us. They break things on their end, immediately put in a ticket for us to fix it – always at high priority of course – and then downright refuse to provide us basic troubleshooting information. It might just be a coincidence, but the timing does seem to coincide with… all that.

    The more disturbing trend is how many times my husband and I have had McDonalds or Starbucks workers tell us we’re the nicest customers they’ve had all day, when we’ve literally just acted like we always have.

    I don’t think there’s any one single cause. I think every person on the planet right now is just being pushed past their stress threshold, and unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there who take their stress out on others.

    1. Lab Boss*

      I feel your comment about being called “nice” just for not being rude. More than once over the last year or so I’ve walked out of a restaurant feeling sad, because some poor server or cashier was visibly relieved that I hadn’t thrown a giant tantrum over some minor inconvenience like an item being sold out. I can’t imagine the treatment they’re getting if they’re so happy over so little.

      1. Brihanne le Marre*

        Exactly this! I’ve actually made it a point to be extra kind to anyone in retail, specifically, now. It takes me literally nothing to ask them how they’re doing or have a short conversation with them while they ring up my cat food and it truly hurts me to recognize that may mean I’m one of the only good things about their entire shift.

        Also sad-making: the number of “we will not tolerate abuse of any kind” in medical offices/hospitals. Who the hell are these signs for? What has been going on in these offices? Actually, nevermind. I don’t want to know.

      2. Yes, this*

        Same. And not just service providers like cashiers, colleagues I only work with occasionally profusely thanking me for my kindness, or promptness, or thoroughness when I’m just … doing my job in a pleasant way.

    2. RC+Rascal*

      Same thing is happening to me. I worked as as cashier in high school and gave always had a general habit of being nice to people working with the general public. They are especially grateful these days.

    3. Reboot first, please*

      I work in IT, doing internal support at a small company. In the past, folks usually gave me the benefit of the doubt about any problem they faced. These days I’m much more likely to get an all-caps accusation that I broke something. Everyone demands to be my top priority. One internal client asked why he was designated as VIP in our system, saying he wasn’t needy at all; not a day later, he called me at the crack of dawn to ask for something we don’t give people, then he called our IT vendor and abused the poor tech assigned to the ticket. He got his way by the end of the day and will face no consequences for his bad behavior. I wish this were a rare example of what I experience on a daily basis, but it is not.

      The amount of emotional labor I do has skyrocketed as the number of stressed out coworkers who take it out on me has increased. I’ve been tempted to add “De-escalater and mind-reader extraordinaire” to my resume. I’m exhausted and looking for a way out.

      1. Sarcastic+Fringehead*

        I also work in IT, and my job is so much harder now than it was in 2019. Between supporting hybrid work, MASSIVE employee turnover, and the entitlement our users have toward our time (sure, I’ll sit in this conference room for three hours with no notice because you’re worried there *might* be tech issues in your remote meeting), I’m pretty much done

        1. Reboot first, please*

          I’m chuckling at your example only because I too have been asked to sit in on meetings waiting for something to go wrong because the meeting host is anxious. Then that same host turns around and tells me our company is growing, but I won’t get any help to support all these extra people.

    4. Chai Latte*

      High school teacher here (on a break, so don’t @ me for Ask a Manager on the job)
      Called a ****ing cu** yesterday by a random child in the hallway. The reason? I said, “Our class is taking a final, so can you please hold it down?” and it escalated from there. Administrative response? “Well, that happens.”
      No wonder so many people are quitting. Kid behavior I can deal with; lack of administrative support? Nah.

    5. Shoney Honey*

      My 20-year old works for Starbucks and I am horrified by her customer stories on a daily basis. People literally screaming at college students making $12.50 an hour because they asked for a SPLASH of cream, not LIGHT cream, or something similarly silly. People throw drinks, they call them insulting names. I thought I had bad experiences from my days working customer-facing jobs, but her stories are unreal.

    6. Viva*

      I work at one of the restaurants you mentioned. Omfg. I cannot describe to you the chaos. I stepped down from a management position and now only work 4 days a week because I just could not anymore. Every time the phone rang or someone asked for a manager I just wanted to throw up. The real turning point came over the summer when our store opened for dine-in again. Just pure, unadulterated chaos. Our staffing guidelines are for every hour, you need 1 person for every $50 you do in sales. Our reality was we had 3 people in the building on a Saturday afternoon. It was hell. Things have improved since then, thankfully, and other things in my life have changed too to where I’m hoping I’ll be able to find another job later this year (I needed the flexible schedule for childcare reasons.)

    7. DrRat*

      About the McDonalds/Starbucks thing – I have definitely noticed 1) service people telling me about the most minor problem like they are an animal that expects to be beaten and 2) an almost over-the-top fawning appreciation when I don’t lose my s**t over it. It really drives it home to me how other people are acting.

      Just an example: I placed an order for Korean food online. Main order was something else but I also ordered a salad. Paid online but as I was in the car about to leave, I got a call from them. Caller says in a hesitant, trembling voice that they ran out of salad supplies. Okay, I say, I’ll just pick up the rest of the order. They say they will refund the amount to my credit card, but they explain in a terrified voice that I won’t see the refund for about 3 days. That’s okay, I say, in the voice I would use with a rescue animal, I’m not worried about it.

      When I showed up they were so pathetically grateful that I was cheerful and fine with the whole thing that they insisted on giving me a freebie (HUGE container of pickled radish.) I felt so bad for them because it was clear that most customers were losing their minds over minor stuff like that. I gave them a monster tip.

    8. Burger Bob*

      The thing about being the nicest customer just because you aren’t being rude is very true! I work in retail pharmacy. Some of my favorite customers don’t do anything particularly special. They’re just consistently not rude to us. During the height of omicron, pharmacies were massively backed up and things were terrible. When I posted about it online, some of my sweet friends would ask what they could do to support their pharmacy. I would say, “Honestly, just try to be patient and don’t be mean.” It’s remarkable how refreshing basic politeness can feel these days.

  13. You're on Mute Janet*

    I work in Housing and Residence Life at a university, and this has absolutely been my reality, as well as the reality of so many of my colleagues. Working with young people who so often are living away from home for the first time and building a new set of interpersonal skills has always been challenging and rife with conflict, but it’s been dialed up to 11 the past year especially.

    Students have been in a state of arrested development the past few years, and they missed so many developmental milestones (prom, sports, etc.) that aid in their development. Our students across the board seem to be 2+ years behind maturity-wise. They can’t engage in healthy conflict resolution, they demand problems are solved for them immediately, and they are so quick to jump 20 rungs up the ladder and complain to the president if they experience any friction.

    I like to say now that when our students hit speed bumps, it’s like they’ve crashed into brick walls.

    1. Meghan*

      Agree with this SO MUCH. I work in academia and the students have been so frustrating. I’m trying to approach each situation with empathy, but it can be hard when it seems like every student has problems.

    2. Monty*

      This is very much my experience as a grad student and TA. Students seem to have very few problem-solving skills outside of escalating the issue and asking someone else to fix it. They also seem to think that every small issue is going to set them back enormously (e.g. getting a B on a paper in first year will torpedo their chances of going to law school). I know a lot of them have been unbelievably resilient and selfless over the last few years (and most of them are still an absolute pleasure to teach) but it feels like they’ve also been kind of sheltered. It’s almost like the pandemic has forced us all to cocoon with all our anxieties and worst impulses and now we don’t really know how to override them anymore, especially for those of us just stepping into the “adult world.”

      1. HigherEdAdminista*

        This is another great observation. My colleagues and I are often shocked when students have not tried a single thing to solve a fairly normal problem, and right away escalate the situation. I noticed that before the pandemic, but the pandemic kicked it into hyper drive. Everything feels life or death to them, but they also feel/act like they are completely powerless to change anything.

  14. Claire*

    The Atlantic recently wrote a piece about this:

    1. Princess Deviant*

      That was a great read, thanks for posting. I especially found the concept of anomie and what it had to say about mental health really fascinating.

  15. Essentially Cheesy*

    I work at a production facility in the front office. We have no customers in the retail sense – although we do have contractors come in for repair work or new equipment installation. I am not aware of any issues that way.

    However – our (extremely valuable!) production employees are burnt out and are losing patience with each other and with management. Production management is also notably burnt out. This is all fueled by abscenses, staffing shortages, supplies shortages – and among other factors, I’m sure. I have witnessed at least one meltdown and there have been others that get to the point that they just walk out.

    It’s still a very stressful time for a lot of people. And for us – there is no “work from home” option. I’m sure that has only added to the stress.

    1. Paris Geller*

      I don’t see how not wanting to tolerate verbal abuse, rudeness, and plain meanness is equal to “old person yelling at kids to get off their lawn”, but ok.

    2. Keller*

      In what way? In my experience people of any age are equally likely to give and receive rudeness.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        I think that’s why. People tend to look back and believe things were better in the past. I personally haven’t noticed people being any ruder than in the past – which isn’t to say it’s not happening – but it is definitely true that people always perceive society as getting less respectful. There are quotes from Roman times complaining about the current lack of manners.

        Now, of course, the fact that every generation has had people who thought there was a recent increase in rudeness does not mean it can never happen for real, but it can be kind of hard to bring it up without sounding like the stereotypical older person complaining that people are so rude nowadays; they were never like that when I was young.

        1. Antilles*

          Nostalgia is a real thing and there’s definitely generational stuff with “kids these days”…but two of the examples Alison’s post are people who are talking about things changing in the past few months. For someone who’s commenting on a site for professional adults, stuff that happened six months ago is still pretty recent – not like eons ago or anything, but recent enough that most people’s life today is not *that* different than it was back in November 2021 or whatever.

        2. Lab Boss*

          I wonder, too, if there IS an increase in rudeness but it’s only an increase relative to the past two years. As things ramp back up to pre-covid levels of activity and crowds, there might be more rudeness than there was 18 months ago when things are quieter. That, plus some rose-colored glasses about the “before times,” could be making a regression to the mean look like a vast novel increase.

        3. Two Dog Night*

          Yeah, but… I think it’s one thing to say “people were so much more polite when I was a kid,” and another to say “I’ve noticed a marked increase in rudeness over the last year.” This post is about the latter, and IMO it has nothing to do with “kids these days.”

        4. Nameless+in+Customer+Service*

          This is well said. I studied history and archaeology, and used to keep a copy of a Babylonian letter from 3700 BP where a father complained about his son’s haircut, clothes, friends, and habit of ditching school.

          But as you point out, these days are not victims of the usual “people are so much ruder now than when I was young” nostalgia, but really are showing a marked increase in hostility amidst society.

        5. Eff Walsingham*

          When I worked in retail, I didn’t feel that more people were acting rude, out of the total number of customers. It was that the rude people were getting exponentially ruder. Like, screaming toddler meltdowns to deal with, on a regular basis, over a pulled thread or an expired coupon. The good customers (normal, kind, polite, reasonable) were just as pleasant to deal with as ever. But it couldn’t counterbalance the rudeness upswing. I got out.

    3. cubone*

      Is that because several of the responses are higher ed/education in general about students? When I read about experiences in retail or other industries, I definitely don’t get the impression there is an age element to it (and if there is, frankly I think most people tend to steer type that it’s more likely to be older clientele behaving poorly, not younger)

      1. Burger Bob*

        It’s definitely not limited to any particular age bracket in retail. There are wildly rude people in all age groups these days.

    4. Julia*

      The idea of “kids get off my lawn!” is that the kids aren’t actually doing anything negative. The yelling person is mad at new ideas/behaviors/trends. They’re angry for no reason.

      This is describing an increase in negative behavior and it’s not generational. I work in a public library and the hostile patrons are all ages and they’re directing their behavior at people of all ages. I’ve had people younger and older than me be angry about library fines, computer issues, the book they want being checked out and movies not being released on DVD/Blu-ray (CODA I’m looking at you). Living through a pandemic is stressful and one way that’s manifesting is an increase in people lashing out. More people lashing out also means those are the receiving end are getting burned out faster. Dealing with an occasional jerk is one thing. Dealing with them every day is exhausting.

      I’ve worked a variety of public facing jobs and there will always be people who are mean because of something else going on in their life. I know that I’ve done that myself and I apologize when I realize it’s happening. The volume of mean has increased.

      Recently I’ve had a few deeply bizarre hostile interactions at the public library where I work. Someone has come in several times looking for hard to find books about Buddhism. Every time she is rude and hostile. She’s been mad that we can’t figure out what the particular text is that she found on Wikipedia at home. She was rude to someone for not immediately being able to spell Sanskrit words. She is consistently angry that a public library doesn’t have academic works on Buddhism. It is wild that every interaction I have with a Buddhist is awful. (She isn’t doing pure research. She self-identified as a Buddhist)

      1. GlowCloud*

        Buddhism is a thing you do, not a thing you are. If she thinks it’s ok for a Buddhist to act with such hostility towards another person she clearly *really* needs that book!

        1. Julia*

          She should be out here trying to reduce the suffering in the world not increasing it. So far she hasn’t internalized the content of the books she’s reading but I remain hopeful.

      2. Eff Walsingham*

        Our libraries have been awesome through all of this, and their staff have been amazing. Our local library has stopped charging overdue fines during the pandemic, and say they are looking at whether they can do without the revenue indefinitely, as it’s been so appreciated. The Big regional library has not stopped charging overdue fines, causing my husband to say they’re opportunistic chiselers, and me to suggest that he find some kids to order off his lawn! ;)

        Seriously, libraries? Doing wonderful stuff under trying conditions. Much appreciated!

        1. Julia*

          Library fines don’t actually generate much revenue for public libraries. There is also evidence that eliminating library fines actually gets people to return materials more. My library has no fines but if you never return an item you get billed for it. People aren’t abusing the policy and it has increased library use.

          If you want to make your local librarians extra happy write a letter to your mayor saying how much you appreciate the library. We can always use extra support.

    5. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      I think there’s some data supporting this, like number of flight attendants assaulted and that sort of thing.

    6. Stuckinacraxyjob*

      Some are helpful. Some aren’t. My personal pet peeve is exaggerating how long things were ” closed “. They were closed for 2020. Open in 2021 and it’s 5 months into 2022 almost.

      1. Rebeck*

        For you that was the experience. My workplace had buildings closed far more in 2021 than in 2020. And we didn’t reopen in 2022 after closing the buildings for Christmas until February.

        My pet peeve is people who think their experience was everyone’s experience.

        1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

          Yes I didn’t elucidate that its an ideological thing. Like they claim schools were closed for 2 years and ghe school building was wide open but maybe one kid wore a mask or a company is open until the disease outbreaks they were howling for close them and then they are surprised.

        2. Burnt Out and Needing Relief*

          My workplace has been open to the public since May 2020. Seconding that we all have different perspectives and experiences

    7. DrRat*

      Really? Maybe read up about the ENORMOUS uptick in assaults on flight attendants over the past few years. Or the fact that attacks on medical personnel have increased drastically during pandemic. If you were in a job where a customer physically assaulted you, I doubt you would feel this way.

      But my guess is you’re just a troll.

    8. Anima*

      This post is a perfect example of the underlying hostility Alison meant.
      A simple question of experiences gets muddled up with generational conflict for no reason. And just like that emotions swing high. That is uncalled for.
      I personally feel humans in general need to learn all our discussion skills we had developed since the ancient Greeks and Romans and whatnot again because handling a simple question like that is not useful or fruitful.

  16. Shelley Levene*

    I’m in inside sales, I’ve done phone work for several decades. The hostility and vitriol I’ve experienced in the past six months has been worse than in all the prior years combined.

  17. Swiss Army Them*

    Oh my gosh, I’ve noticed the same.

    My roommate has worked in grocery stores for over 30 years (she’s in her 60s). She said in the past year, she has gotten more horrible, rude, and nasty customers than in the past thirty years combined. Customers yell in her face, call her names, and go straight to the manager. She’s said that there are not only more awful people, but they’re getting more mean and incisive – she ended up quitting because a lady screamed and called her a c*nt because she wouldn’t honor an expired coupon, and then that customer wrote letters to the shift supervisor, branch manager, and corporate saying that my roommate had screamed, yelled, and thrown her groceries around (which she didn’t). And of course, the managers stood up for the customer, not my roommate. That’s the worst part; companies don’t back up their employees at all. Rude customers are learning that they can get away with being assholes.

    My husband works as a chef and weird, entitled customers are on the rise, too. One story stands out:
    They were baking a bunch of sourdough loaves for an event, and a guy came by and asked to buy one. My husband told him they’re not for sale and are reserved for an event. The guy immediately starts yelling “the f*ck you mean they aren’t for sale?! Everything’s for sale. You telling me I can’t buy bread at a g*ddamn restaurant???” and starts literally waving cash in my husband’s face. My husband says “man I just work here” and walks away. So the guy goes to a manager and throws a fit about the bread and she acquiesces and just sells him a loaf of bread (which left them short for the event, but I digress). Well, the guy stands at the counter and rips into the loaf of bread right then and there – just tears into it with his bare hands and shoves it in his mouth. Completely animalistic. The restaurant was full, too, so he had an audience. The manager had no idea what to do, so she did nothing. He ate about a quarter of the loaf staring right at my husband while he was trying to cook. He then leaves the mangled bread on the counter and walks away. My husband and I are both pretty seasoned restaurant workers and have never ever seen anything like that.

    1. Swiss Army Them*

      As far as what I think has caused this? *getures vaguely* uh….the state of the world?

      Genuinely, though, I think the narrative around the Great Resignation and “no one wants to work anymore!” has fueled this change. People have an even lower view of service workers – even the ones that stay – because there’s such a widely popularized narrative of people leaving the service industry. A lot of customers who would previously be rude to customer service workers are emboldened & annoyed by the idea that people now think they are “too good” for customer service work, and therefore see anyone in a customer-facing role as someone who “doesn’t want to work anymore”…..despite the fact that they’re right there, in front of you, working. There’s a lot of cognitive dissonance at play.

      I also think the widespread protests against mask mandates, anti-vax rhetoric, etc has emboldened people to be more stodgy, authoritarian, and contrarian. The whole world is against them – even the clerk at the grocery store – and no one will understand just how much the world is against them until they scream and yell and get their way!! It’s….saddening to see.

      1. Lab Boss*

        I love your insight there, that a chain of narrative-fueled assumptions lead to the attitude that all service workers don’t want to work, even the ones working, and the ones working must be put in their place.

        1. Swiss Army Them*

          Thanks! Honestly, I’ve really hated the “Great Resignation” media coverage, ever since fast food places started posting those “we’re hiring please help” signs that went viral. So much of the narrative has been controlled & pushed by people who have never had to work a demeaning, exhausting service job (because they think they’re too good for them!) and has caused a real shift in the way that service workers are viewed by customers. It’s been made into a Discourse Piece for white-collar workers and media makers, instead of a cry for reexamining the service industry. On the whole, media coverage of the Great Resignation has made things worse for service workers.

          1. Captain Swan*

            And the really insidious part of all the Great Resignations media coverage is there are plenty of people that would work those retail/food service jobs but they can’t get hired.
            My daughter is 19 and has Asperger’s. It took her 6 months to find a part time job. She wasn’t being picky, had reasonable availability, and was willing to start at entry level. Took 6 months for her to get a job at a local restaurant and that’s with plenty of places advertising that they were desperate for employees. This is a familiar story that I heard alot on various social media groups.

      1. Swiss Army Them*

        It shook my husband to his core. There is something deeply disturbing about a 40something grown man throwing a tantrum because someone told him he couldn’t have bread.

        1. irene adler*

          I have to wonder: if your husband had just said “Sure!” and sold him the bread, would the man have acted like he did? Or would he have put on a more spectacularly boorish display (Yikes!!)?

          Dang. This is exactly why I am overtipping every chance I get. Mind my manners too. No one should have to take this behavior.

    2. A CAD Monkey*

      “companies don’t back up their employees at all. Rude customers are learning that they can get away with being assholes.”
      I think that’s the biggest part of the problem. Corporations have decided the adage “the customer is always right” is a hard and fast rule and if they don’t cater to every customer whim that they’ll lose money. which, in turn, has caused a rise in the entitlement of customers. now these “customers” think that by abusing low level workers, they can get what they want whenever they want and management will just fold and give it to them. those managers that don’t, get pushed out by corporate when complaints are made.

      the full adage: “In matters of taste, the customer is always right”

      1. anonymous73*

        100% If a worker follows the rules and tells a customer no, then their manager tells them yes, the customer knows all they have to do is throw a hissy fit like a toddler to get what they want. If more managers would have their employees back and stand up to irrational customers, things would change.

      2. Antilles*

        The most ironic part is that by doing so, you often end up losing business. Let’s break down this bread story from a cold-blooded profiteering perspective:
        1.) The guy who flipped out over bread isn’t going to be lifelong, loyal customer. You may have sold him his bread, but he’s walking away thinking it’s absurd that a bakery ran out of bread and he had to complain to multiple people to just get a single loaf of bread.
        2.) The other paying customers in the full restaurant were undoubtedly uncomfortable with the whole spectacle. Some of them will be sympathetic, some will write it off as one bad apple, but others might put the blame on the restaurant for not handling the situation better. Obligatory reminder that these are customers that paid for full sit-down meals.
        3.) Running out of bread for an event later means that the other paying customer who ordered your catering might not be thrilled with your services – either because you ran out early and/or because I ordered 10 loaves and you only delivered 9.

        So to sum up: The company did not gain a new customer from mollifying Angry Bread Man. They may have actually lost business. And it’s not even like you made a sizable amount of extra money off the deal – best case scenario, you made the extra $5 from selling the loaf, but it’s also possible that Event Planner who ordered 10 loaves but only got 9 is now only paying for 9 and it’s a total wash.

        Corporate might say “customer is always right” (and certainly would have if the manager had held firm, then he’d complained), but this a case where helping this jerk was clearly incorrect from a business perspective.

        1. Swiss+Army+Them*

          This is such an apt analysis!! You hit on a lot of really good points here, and identified a pattern of dysnfunction/bad mgmt that very much exists there. Unfortunately, the managers of his restaurant have a history of being pushovers – they’re very much the Dysfunctional Trendy Startup of restaurants – and the manager’s thought process was probably “this will get him off my back, we’ll just make an extra loaf real quick before the event starts” (which, as a baker, don’t even get me started on…)

          1. Monty*

            That’s… not how sourdough works.

            Source: a loved one asked if my spouse could make a loaf of sourdough for an event this weekend and my spouse answered, “yes, but you’ve caught me in the nick of time.” With our starter, it takes about 36-48 hrs to go from gooey starter in a jar to a cooled loaf of bread (so you’d want at least 3-5 days’ notice).

        2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          100% This.

          I ran a wine bar. I taught everyone — including the teenagers cooking appetizers and pizzas – about the customer quadrant system. Dogs, cash cows, question marks, stars. I would quiz them about which quadrant a customer went in.

          Dogs (low revenue, low growth potential) aren’t customers you want to have. Do not go out of your way to give them above-average service, because you’ll never make that money back. And the worse dogs are actually negative revenue – they drive other customers away.

          This guy was the biggest dog you could possibly have.

          1. Swiss+Army+Them*

            This is a great method!! Very clever. Will definitely use these quadrants in the future. I’ve worked too many places that seem to think all customers are created equal and that’s just not true.

        3. wittyrepartee*

          Having run a vaccine clinic: sometimes you give in to crazy because otherwise they stick around for 3 hours making everyone else there miserable. Which, really upset me while I was working vaccine clinics…

      3. DrRat*

        I work for a company that actually holds customers accountable and will blacklist them (more info below) and we can tell by the way they are so shocked when we tell them we won’t be doing business with them that few few companies do this.

        These people will write to/call every possible person up to the CEO and the state boards, ranting and raving and lying, which never does them any good because all we have to do is say, “We have them on a recording calling one of our employees *fill in the racial/sexual/homophobic term*” and we’re done.

      4. Eff Walsingham*

        This… misappropriation of “the customer is always right” is reaching ridiculous proportions.

        A friend of mine worked at a coffee shop. They had closed for the day, but she’d unlocked the door briefly to let someone out.

        A woman wanted to come in and use the washroom. My friend said, “I’m sorry, but we’re closed.” The woman said, “Oh, I don’t want to BUY anything. I just want to use the washroom!” And my friend said, “I’m sorry, but we’re closed.”

        The woman said “You people have the worst customer service!” and stomped off. My friend said (to me, later) “I couldn’t figure out why she thought she was a customer.”

        Yeah, lady. You didn’t buy anything. You didn’t ask to buy anything. You showed no interest in anything they were selling. But you still felt quite free to hassle the staff and complain about shop policies.

        So I guess now it’s supposed to be “the potential customer is always right”?? Because maybe that woman might, one day, want a hot beverage or a pastry?

    3. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      Wow Swiss Army Them…that restaurant incident was scary! Not sure if you’re in the US, but I am, and since it’s so easy to acquire firearms here, people that behave like that guy about the bread really scare me when I think about how easily they can get a firearm and do significant damage! Was your roommate able to find another job where they were treated better? Hope so!

      1. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

        The original phrase re customers being right was:
        That’s all – so if the customer wanted a garish, awful combination of colours or flavours or whatever – no problem. Their taste was their choice, not an issue at all.
        It saddens me to see how the idea that “the customer is always right” has led to so much poor treatment of workers. I wonder if the ‘right’ (as in correct) has become conflated with the idea of “my rights” in the USA. I am in Australia, where employees are not dependent on tips, and have health care which is not dependent on employment, which obviously makes a difference to what kind of treatment staff are obliged to tolerate.

      2. Swiss+Army+Them*

        Yep, in the USA. This happened in a major city, too, where there is a not-insignificant amount of gun violence. And my roommate was actually able to retire this month!! :D

  18. bee*

    I do Interlibrary Loan and I would say yes but only slightly. I work with a lot of professors and there’s always a few of them that are jerks, but now most of our grad students are online and they aren’t always the nicest when I explain that I can’t scan entire books for them, because copyright law is a thing. However, my circulation colleagues have DEFINITELY had an increase in hostility. They were all pretty relieved when our campus mask mandate lifted, because even though it’s less safe they didn’t have to fight with 90% of the students approaching the desk. The students have been awful about masking for basically this whole academic year — our campus is majority male and 19 year old boys are pretty convinced of their own immortality, even when talking/breathing on my 70+ year old colleagues.

    (Also, we’re a Jewish university and apparently the students have been calling one of our library directors who’s Very strict about mask usage the “Mask Nazi” which??? There’s just way too much to unpack there)

    1. megaboo*

      I’m a librarian as well and I was relieved when I started working behind the scenes in technical services. My colleagues experienced some pretty terrible things. Like folks coming in to directly challenge mask mandates by saying their freedom of speech was curtailed (unable to access materials?). One of my friends was doxxed online by a group like this. She actually got death threats. The mask mandate made people insane.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      Another academic library employee here: I’m in the archives, which has always been a very controlled environment and pretty much only used by [doctors and historians, in our case]. Plus, we’ve been limiting visitors so we can keep people spread out, although we’ve never been high-traffic. Some of our patrons have always been egotistical a-holes.

      So my department has been about the same but I would guess that our coworkers in the more public-facing departments have Seen Some Things lately.

    3. Dunno, I usually just read AAM...*

      I used to work in academia and heard a male senior academic call a female professor, who was Jewish, a “rules Nazi”. He resigned shortly afterwards for ‘unknown reasons’.

      1. Just stoppin' by to chat*

        I hate when people use the term Nazi like this. And calling a character in Seinfeld the Soup Nazi didn’t help! I’m an ashkenazi Jew, and that term always rubs me the wrong way

    4. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      I have to say at our campus our students have been awesome about masking. 95% of them still wear masks even after the mandate lifted. Faculty and staff have been not as good about it.

  19. MiningEng*

    I work in salt mining, and I really feel like even our employees are more hostile to each other than previously. There is a lot more infighting/pettiness. I think a lot of it has to do with the Powers That Be implementing weekend work to catch up on production. It seems to be destroying morale, even on my team (engineers) that don’t have to work weekends typically.

  20. Goose*

    I work in customer service with an audience of parents of teens, and have found that over email parents are nervous and aggressive. There is a disconnect that it may take us more than an hour to get back to them, and that we may need to spend time looking up an answer. Over the phone though, even though it takes more time, I’ve been able to have nicer conversations because they realize I’m a real person.

    1. Jam*

      That’s interesting, because I used to (pre pandemic) work in a ticket office, sometimes at the counter and sometimes in a call center. We always found people were much nastier on the phones in a way they weren’t in person and it made me very nervous about phone related tasks at subsequent jobs. I guess it’s all relative.

      1. Goose*

        Everything is remote so we’re not interacting with people in person, so maybe that’s why. Phone calls are as “in person” as we get.

        1. Nanani*

          Could also be a self-selection effect between people who pick up a phone and people who show up at a counter?

    2. Sloanicote*

      I think this has been somewhat exacerbated by companies having cut their customer service down to the bone – if you need help it seems like it is always hours now or there’s simply no phone option available. This leaves you feeling very frazzled and unsupported long before you ever get to a person. Obviously this is no excuse for being abusive though. But I feel like I have been more on-edge and desperate when trying to work with insurance, utilities, airlines, or product suppliers during the pandemic.

      1. Nanani*


        People are upset because the website directs them to call, the hold message kept reminding them about the website that doesn’t do the thing they need, the phone menu is confusing, and they got disconencted twice before they talked to you.

        Sure it’s not ok to take it out on you, but the real problem is all the aggravation being offloaded on both staff and customers by bad (cheap) decisions up top.

  21. MI Dawn*

    I have very little face to face communication in my job, but I’ve had some emails from people that I looked at and said “rude” out loud (I work from home, thankfully!)

    I think that maybe the arrival of Alexa and Google Home made a difference. People laugh at me because I use “please” and “thank you” to my requests to them – “Alexa, set a timer for 10 minutes, please”. Using those words are habitual for any request (human or AI), and I think people who use them a lot with out those words have forgotten that humans are not AI and have feelings.

    I hear people ordering at the drive through and I’m always appalled at how rude they can be. I always thank the person who takes my order and the person I pay at the window who gives me my food. It’s 1 second and one or 2 words to say. Not a huge deal to do.

    1. OutofOffice*

      I do this with our Google Home requests. “Okay, Google! Please turn on the lights! Thank you!” It used to respond positively when you did that, but sadly stopped. I keep doing it 1) because it’s a habit and 2) when the robots take over, I’m in good standing. ;)

      1. SpicySpice*

        That’s awesome, my husband says the same thing! That they’ll remember his politeness when they take over!

    2. Bronze Betty*

      Agreed. And I will try to make a habit of including “please” and “thank you” in my requests. I do that already most of the time, but will step that up.

      Side note on food orders, fast food or even food at sit-down restaurants: For some time, I’ve found it bothersome to hear the way some people place their food orders: “Gimme X” or “I want Y.” No, not downright rude, but just . . . not nice. I’ve always tried to say something like: “I’d like . . . ” or something like that.

      1. Eff Walsingham*

        No, “gimme X” or “I want Y” are both downright rude. I too am astonished at the way some people act in restaurants. Please and thank you should always be used, and it’s nicer if you speak in short, clear sentences, and pay attention the first time if they rattle off a list of sides or salad dressings. Don’t make them repeat it for every member of the party because you were nattering away.

        Last week when we were out with 2 family members, a food runner actually said, “Look me in the eye and say Thank You when I bring you delicious food!” We were scandalized but burst out laughing, and agreed that he was right and our person was rude not to acknowledge the runner in some way.

    3. Sloanicote*

      Drive through is a great example of something I’m struggling to articulate – the wait times have gotten longer due to staffing shortages, staff seems to be more inexperienced when you get them, and prices have gone up. The overall experience is less pleasant than ever. Obviously this is in no way intended to excuse people being rude or abusive in any way, but does mean I’m more stressed and the situation more fraught before I ever reach the counter.

      1. Sloanicote*

        Oh and also the gas prices are up as your idling longer in the car, so you’re feeling coins drop out of your wallet. And if you’re high risk you can’t go inside if the drive through line is too long because there’s unmasked people in there. But you need to be nicer than you’ve ever been to the staff because they’re exhausted, underpaid, and at more risk than you are already.

    4. Mitford*

      I was a bank teller in college, and we all dreaded working the drivethrough window because the customers were so much more unpleasant than the ones who came in the lobby. And that was literally decades ago. I can’t imagine what it’s like today.

  22. fposte*

    I think it’s a combination of lingering pandemic stress, loss of social skills due to the pandemic, and increased exposure to the more peremptory tone common to online spaces. We’ve been immersed in a discourse where it’s rare to find people championing a measured response and a walking away; instead either you’re an idiot or you deserve everything and some punitive damages to boot.

  23. ThinkQuicker*

    There was an article recently (I think in The Guardian) about how theatre and comedy audiences had forgotten the etiquette of watching a live show (i.e. don’t carry on a conversation when the performers are on stage; don’t jump on stage to interrupt the performance etc.) . Honestly, I think the lack of social interaction for many of us has done a number of our manners. These things are habit and practice as much as anything. If you’re not socialising with people outside of your immediate household as often, the skills of how to interact with strangers get weaker. Oddly enough I’ve noticed it from colleagues more than clients – people are passive-aggressive and stroppy in a way they never would have been previously. Burnout and general (pandemic) fatigue are also contributing factors, I feel.

    1. Roscoe da Cat*

      I haven’t noticed this – what I have noticed is that the audiences are so happy to be back that it makes even the cast almost drunk! True, the only two performances I went to were musicals so maybe it might be different for other types

  24. Widget*

    I work at a library and we absolutely saw an increase in hostile patron interactions over the course of the pandemic generally: it was not uncommon for staff to have regular invective spewed in our direction, especially when asking people to comply with masking and social distancing rules. ‘Nazi,’ ‘bitch,’ and ‘cunt’ were all regularly thrown in our direction. We also took a cut to our number of staff, meaning we have fewer people having to sponge up that amount of abuse, even if there had been no increase in that behavior overall.

    But we’ve seen a general rise in poor behavior over all. A lot of it seems to be that people (teens especially, who lost out on important social development) went, for lack of a better descriptor, semi-feral as they became more isolated and are, essentially, having to re-learn how to be around other humans in the world. There’s also been a marked increase in addiction and mental health issues in our community and that feeds into problematic behaviors. Our chief of police told us that 80% of their calls now have a mental health component.

    Also, weirdly, a marked increase in adults leaving food messes in the library.

    I expect that this behavior will persist for a few more years as we re-train our patrons on behavioral expectations in the building.

    1. Tech+writer+by+day*

      I imagine I speak for many folks here: I love librarians! Thank you for your incredibly valuable work, and I’m so sorry about the abusive patrons.

    2. Sariel*

      I’ve worked in libraries for more than 15 years (and that’s my second career) and I had already noticed an uptick in rudeness, and especially impatience — and that was before COVID. I agree with your comments about a general rise in poor behavior for a number of reasons.

      But, considering I have seen a rise in impatience/rudeness, I have another theory — and that is the lack of patience due to a shortened attention span (for people of all ages). As the Internet connections got faster, streaming became a thing and phones got more sophisticated, people seem to be more and more impatient. Website takes more than 5 seconds to load? “Your computer is broken.” “You don’t know what you’re doing.” “Your printer is broken” — actually, this is almost always a no . . . it’s just out of paper.

      1. Julia*

        I also work in a library but had previously done tech support. The impatience level with technology has been ongoing for at least the last 10 years. I think part of it is that the idea computers speed things up has created the expectation that if it’s not instantaneous then it’s broken. Urgh. I am very thankful I haven’t been doing tech support the last two years. Stories from friends doing it are nightmarish.

        I also notice that many people are convinced something is wrong when they get a message that a digital item is checked out or there is a wait list. Ebooks aren’t an unlimited resource! On a side note, at my library increased ebook usage hasn’t caused a noticble decrease in paper book use. Ditto for adding streaming video services. People are still checking out DVDs at a fast clip.

        I definitely agree on the impatience problem. People are getting irritated waiting for a few minutes while I look something up or put an item on hold.

    3. TheDisenchantedForest*

      I was at a library as a patron, and witnessed a man, who was standing on the mezzanine, scream at one of librarians on the ground floor. He wanted to know where the restroom was, but he was screaming at the top of his lungs. She ignored him, and he came down to the front desk and – now screaming profanities – threatened to come back later that day and shoot her and the other librarians. She immediately called the police and I left, because this man was clearly unhinged and I did not know what he would do. I can’t imagine working in an environment where you or your patrons are not safe, and have to endure verbal abuse and threats.

    4. Miss Katonic*

      The teens at my library have been great. The adults though… Over masks and other pandemic changes, we were nazis, idiots, and assholes. Now that we’re dealing with a transphobia moral panic, we’re pedophiles and perverts. The last two years have been miserable for my (and my staff’s) mental health. Every time someone walks through the doors, it’s like playing abuse Russian roulette. No one wants to engage with patrons, myself included.

      1. Burger Bob*

        “Every time someone walks through the doors, it’s like playing abuse Russian roulette.” I feel this so much. As a pharmacist, I’m the manager on duty. Any time someone asks to speak to me/the pharmacist specifically, I am immediately anxious wondering if this is going to be a normal interaction about a medical question or if it’s somebody who’s going to abusively complain at me because of some perceived slight by a technician. It makes you hope that nobody will want to talk to you that day. When I started this career, the direct interactions with patients was one of the things I liked. Now it feels like a daily risk.

  25. OutofOffice*

    I’ve noticed this amongst colleagues in my office; in-fighting and nastiness amongst groups within our own division and between our division and other colleagues. I’d attributed it to all of the changes the company is going through, but reading some of these really resonated with me and now I’m wondering if the issues we’ve been seeing are part of a universal trend. That feels even harder to combat, so I hope not, but it’s looking like that’s the case, unfortunately.

    1. Meow*

      My coworkers aren’t downright nasty to each other, but it seems like we’ve completely lost all sense of camaraderie. To be honest, we never had the best teamwork in the first place, but I swear the instant they sent us to work from home, everyone gave up every pretense of trying to work together. Even now that we’re back in office, it hasn’t really come back.

      I don’t mean this to be used as an example that working from home = bad, we had deep-seated issues to begin with. It’s just like once the stress piled on, and we no longer had a manager pushing us to collaborate, getting along was the first thing everyone gave up on.

      1. OutofOffice*

        That’s an interesting perspective, and working from home is definitely a possible factor! I’d say for us, we were fine working from home and good with collaboration, but had a lot of transformational shifts start up well into the pandemic and lots of new leadership, so that might be part of it, too (especially as new staff/leaders didn’t have a good pulse on our established culture when onboarding remotely). It’s probably many, many factors all rolled into one impossible-to-untangle ball.

      2. AFac*

        I’ve seen this, too. We are allowed flexibility to work from home as allowed by our jobs, and some people have been mostly at home. In some cases, those people have also basically checked out from the group. Whether that’s because of the overall pandemic stress or that working from home means they can be in their own world and ignore any collaborative duties because they never see anyone in the halls, I don’t know.

        I also think that having online meetings have resulted in people saying things I don’t think they would have said if we were all in person. It’s like if we’re in zoom boxes we no longer are people who have feelings.

    2. cubone*

      It could also just be specific to my workplaces (or the non profit industry, unfortunately) but I’ve noticed a serious change in the stock placed in hierarchies and status. Obviously this has plagued labor for years (The Important Boss vs The Lowly Employee) but I found the eagerness with which people are yielding power as a force against their colleagues to be .. markedly different to say the least.

      The in-fighting over promotions and titles and status also went from an occasional background thing for a few people to being like, the primary conflict issue in the organization. It feels like people are REALLY clawing over each other to be recognized as the “best”. On one hand, I see some of this as an overall positive trend towards employees setting better boundaries about their worth, but to be honest, the vast majority and most hostile/rude ways it’s played out are the people who have already proven the Peter Principle screaming for more, and putting down others to get it.

  26. Emma*

    No, I am not seeing increased rudeness or hostility. I have witnessed people be generally more tolerant, respectful, and humane over the last year.

    1. misspiggy*

      Me too, especially at work. But just generally in public, except the inevitable minority of arseholes. I’m in the UK.

      1. RandomUser (UK)*

        As a fellow UK-er I’ll be watching with this with interest to see if it’s a trend here as well. The number of ass-hats has been pretty stable in my area and I work in education.

        1. Rufus Bumblesplat*

          I’m a key worker in the UK and I disagree that people have been behaving better. Earlier this month I had to call the police out due to being threatened at work. I’ve never had to do that before. The general public can be truly horrible.

      2. Media Monkey*

        i would agree (also in the UK). maybe some sort of blitz spirit or something? i feel like people are just happy to be out and about. i have been tipping more to people like my hairdresser who i know has missed a lot of income in lockdown.

        work wise we are just all happy to see each other – workloads are insane though! all the extra stuff we all picked up over lockdown when we had no in person meetings is still there plus the in person meetings!

    2. elizelizeliz*

      All right i am ready to stop working in k-12 schools and switch to your job! What field do you work in? I am truly happy for you.

    3. Extroverted Bean Counter*

      My husband runs a tutoring center and he has also generally had much better rapport with the students/parents in the last year or so than he had before.

      My speculation is that the service he offers is essentially a luxury, and the nature of the transaction is that people are coming to him for non-essential help. Kids have been struggling especially hard since 2020, and the attitudes have shifted from entitlement (“I’m paying you good money to get my kid into a good college”) to gratitude (“Thank God your service exists, kiddo is drowning with the hybrid model, can you really help him?”)

    4. Gina*

      How wonderful! Can you share the field and your (general) location? It seems you are very much in the minority here, and it would be nice to see if there might be a cause of that.

      1. Emma*

        Mental health, as I said above, and in the the U.S. I appreciate the numerous others I’ve seen who have shared their positive interactions as well.

    5. Banana*

      This has been my experience too. I’m in the midwest and I work in manufacturing supply chain (super challenging times in the last year especially) in a business-to-business market (no lay customers). It might just be my specific org, not sure. I have seen some of my colleagues lose their tempers over perceiving they’re not getting the flexibility they need with the dumpster fire they’re dealing with, but even when those conversations get tense, the communication is open and honest and mostly respectful and we end up on good terms at the end of the day.

    6. As per Elaine*

      I have a fairly isolated job/life (wfh, rarely interact with customers, and don’t even have that many internal clients), and would agree that I personally have not seen an increase in rudeness — and I have seen some efforts in the direction of being extra-nice/polite to people.

      That said, I have seen less… I would say resilience, in myself, my friends, and my family. Things become overwhelmingly difficult quicker. Something that might have been a minor annoyance before makes one grumpy for hours, or even the whole day. I try really hard to not take this out on other people, because the fact that I’m lower on coping energy shouldn’t be someone else’s problem (not least because they’re presumably also scraping the bottom of their resilience barrel). But it does not at all surprise me that for some portion of people, this sort of emotional brittleness turns into rudeness and short fuses.

      As some other people have noted above, the service people I interact with do sometimes seem very happy to see me — and that might be because they’re still hurting for custom, and it might be because I’m still making an effort to tip really well, or it might just be because I’m reasonable and pleasant.

  27. Alex the Alchemist*

    I work in church communications and started a new job July of last year. While I’ve always dealt with disgruntled folks (as anyone in comms does I think) I’ve definitely seen an uptick of angry emails, social media comments, etc. I think part of it is that I started this job mid-pandemic and when our worship was still mostly remote, so community members don’t know me yet and I’ve always found that folks are quicker to anger when they haven’t personally met who’s on the receiving end. I also think it’s because doing digital ministry work is representative of a fundamental communications change that happened because of the pandemic, and so my job’s existence is already proof that there likely won’t be a “back to normal,” or at least there won’t be anytime soon. I’m glad the folks I work with are supportive though, and I hope that this shift dies down, since I know there are also people in professions that aren’t paid as well who have to put up with even more hostility.

  28. Odyssea*

    I’m in academic libraries, and while we haven’t been as busy in person, we’re handling a lot of chats. I have noticed that patrons are a lot ruder and a lot more dismissive than before. There are certain things we can’t do over chat (usually involving library cards and student IDs) and people get very upset when you tell them they need to make a phone call or come in person, in a way they didn’t pre-pandemic. I haven’t gotten anyone outright abusive, but I have gotten a lot of entitlement as well as “shopping”, where the person will close the chat and then chat again immediately to try and get someone different who might give them a different answer.

    I’ve also noticed that students who chat with us about finding sources for research papers are expecting us to do their work for them. Sometimes they come at it a bit obliquely, but I’ve had several students out right type that they expect me to find the specific articles for them and send them to them, which is not my job! That’s their job, and I’m there to guide them. Again, I’ve had students like that before, but it’s gone from one or two a semester to one or two a week.

    1. D. B.*

      As a customer of telecom companies, I do the “shopping” thing sometimes. Customer service is so sketchy now, it’s become a necessity. You really do get different answers from different representatives, and a lot of the answers are wrong.

      Obviously an academic library is not Verizon or Comcast; your institution isn’t outsourcing customer service to undertrained, underpaid call center workers … but I think your patrons are behaving the way they’ve been trained to behave by big businesses.

      1. Odyssea*

        The problem is that we have strict standards of patron privacy we have to adhere to regarding giving out things like ID numbers and barcodes in the chat, so they’re not going to get what they want. It just ends up frustrating everyone in the long run, especially if they don’t let us explain the situation.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      I think students below a certain age (younger than I am) have been acclimated to expect to be able to find everything online for awhile now, and having to do it so much of late has reinforced that, and now it’s hard to go back to the idea that they have to do a lot of virtual or literal legwork themselves. We’ve always gotten those, too, although we mostly don’t see undergrads so by the time researchers need our help they already know the drill, but we do occasionally get someone who, regardless of age, is inexperienced enough at research that they expect us to have their data processed and on hand when they call.

    3. alessa*

      SAME! Some of my colleagues have received actual abuse. My library has been doing chat reference for almost 20 years. There have always been some trolls or rude/entitled patrons but it has never even approached the situation now. To the point that no one wants to answer chats anymore and we have to bribe people to take a shift. Thank god we’re almost at the end of the semester and everyone can take a deep breath.

      1. Odyssea*

        Yeah, the vibe has definitely shifted over the last couple years. I didn’t even mention the crap we got when the libraries were closed and we were working from home, especially since two of our locations are joint public academic libraries and patrons got mean about the fact we weren’t open. (I guess I blocked that out!)

        I try to always get on and take the chats, though once in a while I just can’t face it and don’t log in that day. One of our campuses had someone on chats for a while who would accept the chat and then just close it without responding. They ended up with a one star rating in our system.

    4. LaFramboise*

      I agree with you on everything, especially students not doing their own research occurring more frequently. When I explain that they don’t want my research because it might not align with theirs, however, then the light bulb goes off.

      But that person who has the same chat question all evening? I’ve taken to alerting the other librarians and the student gets the same spiel from all of us. Cuts down on the repetition.

    5. Banana*

      Oh we’ve seen the shopping thing with our salespeople and customers, but that’s always been an issue. It’s funny when they do it in a call center phone queue that only one person is logged into. Gina will tell Sean in sales that we can’t do X for a customer, end the call, next call is Sean’s area code again and a hang up, then two more hang ups from Sean’s area code in the next fifteen minutes, then Sean calls or emails a manager directly, who consults with Gina and then once again tells him no. They don’t realize how close people sit and how well we know them and each other, lol.

  29. Lizabeth*

    It’s not only affecting one-on-one personal interactions, it’s affecting strangers too. I’ve been working remotely since Fall 2018 and have been watching the street and subway crime reports for NYC (where I used to work) scale up with the pandemic. To the point I’m glad I’m not commuting into the city and give serious thought about whether to go into NYC at all for any reason. The randomness factor makes it not worth it to me.

    1. Justin*

      You are under no obligation to come in, but no, NYC is not the hellscape the news pretends it is. And if you’re driving you’re in far more danger from randomness on a given day.

      (Sorry, this can be deleted if it’s not appropriate, just… the narrative is not true.)

      1. JenFromQns*

        Yeah not to pile on but to hopefully be reassuring – I take the 7 to Grand Central every day, through the whole pandemic. 2020 was eerie, 2021 was tense, now it’s…really pretty much back to normal. The outlier cases are obviously horrifying, but it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of daily riders. (I will make an exception to the area around 14th St/7th ave, but the 1/F train station and surrounding blocks are BLEAK).

        Aboveground as well – a few of my fave Midtown lunch places are gone, and there’s definitely less people around than 2019, I’m pretty sure my office doorman has gone full Qanon, but overall vibes are very “resigned back to normal”, not Murder City.

        1. Mockingjay*

          “I’m pretty sure my office doorman has gone full Qanon”

          I don’t know whether to laugh or commiserate.

          1. Eff Walsingham*

            I learned about Qanon in March of 2020 from our painter. (My company had its own tradespeople who went around to all the locations.) For the rest of my time there, I was alert to avoid him if I smelled latex paint. The man who filled our Coca-Cola machine was more of a generic conspiracy theorist.

      2. Elec*

        same. I work there, and have felt as safe as ever. I don’t know where the “this is the 1970s” narrative is coming from but it’s been fine.

      3. bee*

        Yeah, the trains have been as normal as they ever were, IMO. I’ve been back on the train since August 2020 and sure there’s some occasional weirdness but mostly I just read, and now it’s empty enough (and my commute is early enough) that I always get a seat.

        (i do agree with Jen about the F at 14th st though! idk what’s up there, but it is sketch city)

        1. voluptuousfire*

          Oof, yes. I used to get off my bus at 14th and 6th in Manhattan and I’d even say anything past Union Square West and 14th Street was a bit sketch.

      4. Syzygy*

        You’re not kidding about the driving. I used to commute to work by bike, in NYC. I don’t anymore because of the aggressiveness on the roads. Some of it is the tremendous increase in delivery people, who tend to run red lights and go the wrong way on one-way streets. But I’ve never seen as many vehicles run red lights and drive recklessly as since the pandemic. A few days ago I saw a car drive on the sidewalk to make a turn after the light changed and the car in front of him stopped. Accidents are up significantly

        1. EchoGirl*

          I live in the Chicago area and my husband says the same thing. In the early days (he was still going in in person) there was virtually no traffic because no one was commuting, but since it’s picked back up he says it’s been worse than ever. His working theory is that so many people sat at home for so long that they partially forgot how to drive; I suspect people driving to avoid exposure on public transit was another factor.

          1. Tired in Illinois*

            Uuuuugh, traffic is such a mess. I was GLORIOUS through June 2021 though. My hour-long commute took 20 minutes. Also, people smoking on trains has become a thing again? Not so fun for us with smoke allergies.

    2. Princess Xena*

      I’m on the other side of the country but in one of our local cities there’s been a 120% INCREASE in the number of trauma cases the local hospital has been hit by.

      1. Rara+Avis*

        We’re up to 6 or 7 concussions at my middle school. Kids have forgotten how physics/gravity/bodies work.

    3. Lizabeth*

      Okay, granted I follow the ABC 7 app to keep tabs on what’s going on in NYC area. And they report all.the.bad.stuff.

      But I don’t remember reading about people getting pushed off the subway platforms by strangers until these past couple of years.

      The Port Authority area has at best, been okay, to down right sleezy at times over the years (talking from 1998 onward – the 70s was entirely different beast).

      1. Princess Xena*

        I think I remember hearing a Forensic files episode about this so it might be an unpleasant trend that pops up every few decades or so.

  30. Fluttervale*

    My personal experience in retail is that it’s not much worse than it was before. But I think that as employers have put more work on fewer employees, things have had to slide through the cracks. It teaches customers that in order to get what they need, they need to throw a fit. So people aren’t necessarily ruder but the rules have changed.

  31. D. B.*

    My customers are mainly teenagers and their parents. As far as I can see it’s the same as it ever was: the majority are perfectly nice but a few are rude or hostile (and unfortunately, those ones are hard to forget). I have not noticed any recent increase in bad behavior.

  32. Generic Name*

    Oh no! My heart goes out to anyone whose job is made more difficult by people being awful. Fortunately, I haven’t experienced that in my line of work. People are actually a bit more understanding, if anything. I work as a construction industry-adjacent consultant, and there are a TON of projects going on, and there’s lots of churn in the industry at the moment. Every company is short-staffed, and people have been really understanding about workloads and for the first time in many years, we are having to ask clients to push deadlines back whenever possible.

  33. UnoriginalToast*

    I worked retail-adjacent for a retail software and it was AWFUL! Many of my clients were wonderful people trying to keep their business afloat but with others it felt like all the rudeness they received from their customers was passed onto me. It didn’t help the product wasn’t great and the product, dev, and support teams were also rude and combative back to the clients. Just a mess. I’m glad to be where I am with respectful coworkers, great teams, and wonderful clients. My new manager asked how my first few months were going a while back and I replied “pretty good, no one’s screamed at me yet!” And she was shocked and quickly let me know that just doesn’t happen here. Phew!

  34. The Prettiest Curse*

    I work in events and haven’t noticed an increase in rudeness from event atendees so far. But over the last few years, I have noticed an increasing trend to only fill in event evaluations if the feedback is negative. Negative feedback is really useful, but it’s also good to know what people liked about an event and what keeps them coming back to our events. (Since we do have a lot of repeat attendees, these folks clearly don’t hate us!)
    It’s also very helpful to know the kind of topics or speakers that people would like to see at future events – because we might not know about something that people would really enjoy and/or find useful.

    1. OtterB*

      As someone who’s been doing data gathering, including event surveys, for almost 20 years, it’s a thing that people are over-surveyed. Our response rate is much lower than it used to be, even though, like you, our past attendees are engaged and don’t hate us.

      Heck, as someone who believes in Survey Karma I always felt like I should respond to other people’s surveys, and I’m much less consistent about it than I used to be.

      As far as the overall problem is concerned, I think in part people are responding to stress and the general feel of having too many unmeetable demands. I am close to 100% wfh and have found myself reacting to a ringing phone with “What do you want? Go away!” (To be clear, before I answer it, not after.)

      1. Princess Xena*

        Our IT department has an automated ticket thing that pretty much has you fill out a survey for EVERY SINGLE ticket. Which would be fine except I often have to put in a ticket to get access to some specific information (lots of client data with limited access). It starts getting irritating after the third ‘were you satisfied?’ survey. Y’all just added me to an access list, you didn’t recreate the Turing Test. Fine-tune your survey filters please.

    2. EarlGrey*

      I blame the trend of every interaction I have with any company, however small and mundane, being followed up with a survey! Even when I do have worthwhile feedback my immediate response to seeing one in my email is “ugh what now.”

      1. Robin Ellacott*

        Agreed! I’ll often go out of my way to pass on a compliment for good customer service, but if I buy a thing, and it arrives, and it is the thing I bought… I’m not sure what to say.

        1. kicking_k*

          Yes. I often have no comment on how my package was delivered – especially if I wasn’t home, or it was a gift for someone else and wasn’t delivered to my house…

          Amazon did buy us a new letterbox the time the delivery person broke ours. That is the only time any delivery was really remarkable…

      2. The Prettiest Curse*

        Yeah, I totally agree with the online survey fatigue, so we only do an evaluation for our one large annual event. My in-person events have sometimes done paper surveys filled in on the day of the event, which does seem to work better. (And also, someone once drew cartoon cats to indicate their responses instead of checking the boxes, which was totally delightful.)

      3. Gumby*

        Yes! Buy something from an online store? Survey. Buy in person and use a cc that they have somehow connected to your email – probably because at one point you had a receipt emailed rather than printed? Survey. Eat at a restaurant? Survey. Attend an in-person performance? Survey. (I am a season subscriber to the ballet. I have been sent surveys for 4 performances so far and an overall ‘season subscriber’ survey. I responded to one; perhaps I should respond to another and mention that the surveys are out of control.) Oh, and also the “you haven’t responded to our survey yet” emails that also come on occasion. I have those from a couple of stores in particular, my car insurance company, and a certain government organization that really really seems to want feedback on their Phase I SBIR proposal process.

    3. Elle Woods*

      I definitely agree; I wish attendees would give more positive feedback too.

      Your point about what kinds of topics and speakers is an important one as well. I served on a planning board for a group that planned monthly events and even though there were people from a variety of fields and job roles, it became a struggle to come up with ideas at times.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Yes, it can be a bit of a downer when you spend 10 months out of 12 planning an event, work a 12-hour day on the day of the event and then you don’t get much feedback either way. It’s a lot better than having hordes of angry people yelling at you, it’s just deflating in a different way!

        And I always want to get speaker and topic ideas from attendees. Even if it’s something we can’t use immediately, we can take it into consideration for the future.

  35. EventPlannerGal*

    So I work on corporate events which are a bit less fraught, but my friends/contacts who do social events (weddings, birthdays, engagement parties, that kind of thing) have seen some shocking behaviour from clients recently. I think the explanations are fairly obvious: people have been delaying these events for years at this point, the rules have been so changeable (can I have 50 people at my wedding? 10 people? 200 people? Can I HAVE a wedding?), sometimes it’s the first big family/friend reunion they’ve had since 2020, and everything just represents more right now, emotionally. So for many clients it has to be PERFECT, even more so than usual – “high pressure” doesn’t quite cover it.

    I do understand it, but from a planning/supply POV the issue is that there’s this enormous backlog of events that people have been putting off (particularly weddings) and the venues and suppliers are in such high demand that a lot of things just aren’t possible to organise, or won’t be possible for literally years out. It’s a hard thing for people to hear, but it doesn’t excuse the way some of them react.

    1. JenFromQns*

      Also in corporate events, and yes it’s hard to explain outside the industry how much of a supply crunch there is, and how everyone wants to do all the events they skipped RIGHT NOW, and also somehow have it be exactly the same as 2019.

      1. J*

        I really think part of the issue is this presumed “return to normal” and people refusing except that things are not 2019 normal even if you drop all the Covid restrictions. A lot of people don’t adapt to change well and they also don’t know how to verbalize where their anger comes from so they just lash out. Which is unacceptable but I doubt to some extent they realize they are throwing a tantrum despite that being exactly what we all see.

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      Most of the companies I know of that do non-corporate event services has been having a challenging time. One of the caterers I worked with last year said they were doing 15 weddings a week during the summer! And a lot of caterers have had difficulty staffing events due to staff testing positive for Covid.

  36. DarthVelma*

    For some of us, myself at least, we’re short-tempered because we’re really tired of the world not giving a shit whether we live or die.

    Seriously, every time I have to leave the house I’m faced with people who just cannot be bothered to take minimal precautions to protect other people. I try really hard not to take it out of people who don’t deserve it. But I’m at my breaking point with some of my work colleagues who know I’m at elevated risk and still can’t be arsed to wear a mask between their office and the restroom.

    1. Ashley*

      I think this is very much the other half of the entitled people equation. It is exhausting still trying to protect yourselves and others and being told it’s no big deal.

    2. Mockingjay*

      I’m fortunate that my industry fell under the federal mandate for vaccination (now rescinded). As a government contractor, the companies I’ve worked for have always had to comply with a plethora of government regulations and rules. Current Company’s workforce is well trained and educated; we research, design, and repair highly technical systems and interact with high-level government officials. I figured vaxxing would be a non-issue. Smart people would follow the science, right?

      Boy, was I wrong. Most employees vaxxed ONLY because they didn’t want to lose a lucrative job and benefits. I couldn’t believe how much misinformation and ‘I don’t care’ attitude flew around, including our president and founder, who felt that individual rights ‘trumped’ public health, but complied with the mandate anyway (lest he lose millions in contracts and billing).

      HR bore the brunt of everyone’s ire. I sent a personal note of thanks to the head of HR who handled employee communications (explaining the mandate and why we had to comply, etc.) and irate individual responses with grace, dignity, and unswerving professionalism.

      I work cordially with these people, but I’ll never respect them again.

    3. Stuckinacraxyjob*

      Nod. The moral injury of knowing work will do things in the most harmful way possible and be surprised when there are bad effects makes me cranky. They wanted me to take FMLA because I needed a week off for COVID despite me having plenty of sick time!

      And of course there’s useless in office stuff so we can be hit by outbreaks at the same time and leave ourselves scrambling.

    4. HigherEdAdminista*

      I hear that too. It has made me feel like I’m on my own in most of my larger social circles. I’m the weird one who still cares about the pandemic and doesn’t want to get sick.

    5. MeepMeep02*

      Yup. During this pandemic, a lot of people have shown us who they are, and have shown that they are not deserving of common courtesy.

      A friend of mine just told me this story. A friend of hers has a kid who had to quarantine due to a COVID exposure at his school. Despite that, she still attempted to go on a bike ride with my friend without telling her about the COVID exposure. My friend is asthmatic and high-risk in other ways. Thankfully, someone else told her and she was able to avoid the bike ride.

      How much common courtesy does someone like that deserve?

    6. J*

      Yes, and it’s also that we know our friends and family have made those same choices so why/how can we trust strangers? I try so hard to be nice right now but I know I’m more rude than pre-pandemic because I can’t humor most people with small talk and making them feel better in roles where I used to anticipate people’s needs before they vocalized them. I just don’t care. I’m courteous, I say please, I don’t mind waiting in lines or paying more but I just can’t play pretend. My husband went into work two days this month and both times people shamed him for masking. He can blame it on me as I’m high risk so he does (when he’s the one who had a sibling die) but I’m so angry every day that people feel entitled to encourage him to take off his mask and somehow quiet me is now ruder than them.

  37. Meow*

    Yes, 100%. I work in HR and have either operated as an HR Manager and/or Employee Relations specialist for most of my career (12 years) and it has always involved difficult conversations, sorting through interpersonal conflicts, emotional situations, etc. but it has gotten so much worse. I’ve seen it on the rise for the past 5 years or so but even more so in the last 2 years. It’s not just increased rudeness and hostility from employees but also from leadership, including increased pressure to act as a shield against employees so they don’t need to take responsibility for their unpopular decisions. I fully understand and empathize with employees, it’s been an especially difficult few years between the political climate, the pandemic and social justice conversations and I know so many people have faced serious difficulties in their personal life, but, it’s gotten to a point where it’s almost impossible for me to maintain my own mental health because no matter where I turn someone is telling me I don’t know how to do my job or I’m too slow or I’m not doing enough or I don’t care or I’m heartless. On top of the general rudeness and passive aggressiveness that we’ve seen, I’ve also over the 4 years: had an employee call me a fat b*tch, had an employee call me a stupid b*tch, had an employee threaten to kill me, had an employee stalk me on social media and send explicit messages (in a rude way, not as a come on) and had an employee key the side of my car. I transitioned to a remote role about a year and a half into the pandemic because I no longer felt safe working in an environment where not only was I frequently exposed to COVID but where I was also around people who had no trouble threatening coworkers or starting verbal altercations. The unwritten expectation for HR is that we won’t be just another complaining employee so speaking up against any of this as seen as not being competent at our jobs or not being a good fit for HR (and yes, I have been told this specifically.) On top of this, my own personal values have shifted a lot over the past 12 years and I’ve become increasingly employee friendly which frequently butts up against what I’m asked to do or represent in my role and I no longer feel my job fits my personal values. I’m considering what other fields I can move into because I’m incredibly burnt out but I’m also scared of trying to make a change.

  38. Happy*

    The people I work with are generally lovely. I have not experienced any rise in hostility or rudeness in my profession, but I don’t work with the public.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      My experience has been similar. I haven’t noticed a rise in hostility or rudeness at my office during the pandemic. For context, I’m an engineer at a manufacturing company so I do not work with the public. My team was fully working from home between mid-March 2020 and June 2020. Over the past two years, we’ve slowly transitioned from hybrid (WFH most days) to hybrid (work from the office most days).

      1. Happy*

        I’m an engineer, too. We’ve been working from home for the past 2 years and are just now starting to transition to getting back into the office. So not too far off.

  39. Kowalski! Options!*

    Definitely cracking open the personal laptop to comment on this one…
    I don’t know about hostility, but I am seeing people’s nerves get frayed to the point where people can’t even be bothered to be passive-aggressive to each other: it’s all aggressive and damn little passivity. As Ihmmy points out above, people are burnt TF out and that burnout has taken away any need for social lubrication that we have with each other. And I’ll cop to having my moments, too: my overworked supervisor has basically taken on a lot of our work, (which she used to do before she was promoted) because it’s like a comfort zone for her, so there are a lot of times when I’ve gone completely monosyllabic with actual voice conversations. What would have been a gentle reprimand before March of 2022 from my grandboss became a full-on dressing down, complete with gritted teeth, and she hasn’t reached out to me in the three months since to see how I’m doing.
    I will say this, though: it’s taught me to disengage emotionally from my job. Not in the sense of “I’m going to do as crap a job as I can”, but in the sense of “you get my mental bandwidth between X am and Y pm, and not a minute more.” I seek validation in hobbies and discovering old passions. I don’t take it personally if people don’t like my ideas at work because no one is up for liking much of anything, anymore. And I am seeing glimmers of kindness as people try to regain footing in relationships or reach out to people to create new connections. That gives me hope, to a certain extent. But I do wonder if people are willing to put in the hard work to get that civility back so we do have interactions with less friction. I know, personally, there are times when I’m for it and times when it just seems like so. much. damn. work. for. nothing.

    1. Kowalski! Options!*

      (Forgot to mention: I work in corporate training within a large government department.)

    2. H.C.*

      Yeah, the bulk of my career has been in nonprofits & government, and I take the “mentally disengage” advice to heart – esp. after witnessing quite a few impassioned colleagues burning out and/or become overly cynical.

    3. DrRat*

      A. So sorry for what you’re dealing with
      B. From someone who channels “Rico/Kaboom”, love the name

  40. Not So Super-visor*

    OMG. I work in the freight industry, and it’s been terrible. Between the driver shortage, COVID, and manufacturing delays & shortages, everything is delayed, and people are just awful. We had an entire center closed because 75% of the staff had COVID, and I literally had a customer yell at me that COVID had been going on for 18 months at that point and we should have figured this out by now. I’ve been called names, sworn at, and just SCREAMED at. I’ve worked in this industry for 15 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this. I’ve had good staff just get up and quit after a bad interaction because they’re just over it.
    The worst have been people who are expecting luxury items and insist that because they spent a certain $$ amount with a vendor/retailer that they shouldn’t have to deal with a delay.

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      I can appreciate your problems, because I hear about it from our shipper. We ship hazardous materials all over the world, and she is having trouble getting responses.

  41. kat*

    Weird, I was just thinking about this the other day. I notice it in a prevalence of rude comments on social media, and I had a theory that it started around the 2016 election. Trump was always praised by the people that supported him for ‘saying it like it is,’ or something along those lines. And I don’t know, I feel like that’s just continued on and on and gotten worse and worse because he never really had any consequences for ‘saying it like it is.’ So the more people saw that, the more emboldened they were to say and do whatever they want. And the more people that saw other people saying and doing whatever rude things they wanted without consequence, the more they felt that they could do the same. Like a snowball effect.

    1. LadyAmalthea*

      I worked in retail from 2004-2019, and I noticed that too. We always had rude entitled people, but the level went up in 2016, and it was the first time I noticed lots of people from outside NYC coming into the Manhattan store over the holidays and saying “Merry Christmas” in a specific tone that indicated they wanted a reaction from us, and getting seriously mad when we wished them a happy and healthy New Year in return because they couldn’t actually get mad at that response. Years of being demonstrated that rudeness is acceptable mixed with a pandemic is a scary situation, and I am so glad I am out of retail.

    2. batcat71*

      I very much agree! The divide between people who are just kind natured, and those who just want what they want and they want it NOWW! is ever increasing. I believe that values have changed, what was once unacceptable, is standard. The main thing, EVERYONE is right. No matter how odd, how bad, how abusive, how illogical, all views have to be ‘considered’ and no one is ever wrong, so the loudest wrong voice wins, the calmer people keep to themselves and bullies win every day. I love my job, but half the admin staff just stopped talking to me, they were great when they got their way all the time but now that i am beyond exhausted and have stopped catering to them, well, i don’t exist.
      If feels like the Dump has given licensee to the worst behaviors.
      I have seen things, we all have, in the news that don’t even feel real. I have been called so many names, witch being the main one, for standing up for retail workers being abused by non maskers.
      I am so so discouraged. I feel like I am losing faith in humans. We are not good, we are terrible right now.
      And I do not believe that lack of social interaction has made teens / youngs rude, I think it has been the pandemic wearing us down to not saying no to them, at all.
      I was raised in a tiny farm community. We hardly saw anyone, but we learned kindness.
      I feel like if anything it is the privilege we are seeing unmasked. IMHO

    3. Stop It Sven, Try to Focus!*

      I was thinking the same thing! My company is chock-full of tree-huggers, but the few employees who lean (very vocally and obviously) to the right of center, are the rudest! One of our supervisors asked a PM whether he was a “f-ing idiot” for voting in favor of the minimum wage increase – even though the majority of the state (as red as it is) voted in favor of the measure, which means it garnered support from both parties. Anyway, most of my employees have been wonderful – and the only ones that have been rude have been the ones that were pro-Trump.

      (Don’t come at me, I know there are all kinds, but I’m calling it as I see it. Many of my neighbors are pro-Trump and they are the nicest people – I think it depends on a lot of other factors.)

  42. Owlette*

    I’m an assistant to an accountant. We’ve always had clients who get upset and rant to us about politics (I’ve had several say “If the president doesn’t pay his taxes, why should I?” during the last administration), but it seems to be getting worse. Most of our clients own their own businesses and are losing their employees and customers to COVID, or they can’t get inventory, or their vendors just can’t afford to pay them anymore. It’s compounding stress upon stress upon stress, and sometimes I just catch them at a bad time when I call. Which seems to be all the time now.

    1. Tax Lady*

      I’m an accountant and I can say without a doubt that rude, aggressive, stressed out, and anxious clients are more the norm than the exception now. Clients expect immediate callbacks and if they don’t get it, will proceed to bury my receptionist in calls, texts, and emails. It doesn’t matter that I’m booked solid from 8am to 6pm at the busiest part of tax season, they demand attention NOW! I’ve grabbed the phone more than once between appointments to explain my crushing schedule and that their repeated calling, texting, emails, etc, are delaying the process significantly and that if they can’t wait for a callback or can’t accept their place in “line” (everything is worked on in the order it came in), then they can come get their paperwork and find another accountant. That usually scares most clients into apologizing and trying to explain their anxieties. Those that double down get fired. I know I’m in a privileged position in that I can fire the true jerks, but it’s shocking to me that I’ve had to threaten/follow through on this so often this year.

  43. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

    Not so much rudeness but a lot of entitlement from those who are reaching out via our Contact Us page.

    I take the time to answer everyone fully and I get a nice thank you about 10% of the time and even when I ask a follow up question, I get ghosted.

    I know that our switchboard has been getting a lot of rude callers and it’s impacting the morale of those who man it.

  44. Beth*

    I’m relatively insulated in my own job, but I’ve noticed a knock-on effect from the rise in rudeness.

    My wife and I both tend to be polite and pleasant whenever possible, especially when we have to call any customer service for any purpose. During the pandemic, I increased the attention I pay to being pleasant and supportive over the phone when I’m calling to ask for support, whether it’s making appointments or straightening out a billing or administrative snafu.

    I’ve been getting an increasing number of service people thank me for being “so nice and polite”, “the nicest person I’ve talked to today”, etc. It breaks my heart — sometimes all I’ve done is say please and thank you. I’m glad to be helping make their day a little less miserable, but damn it, I shouldn’t be so unusual.

    It’s just . . . NOT THAT HARD TO BE POLITE, sheesh, I’m asking total strangers over the phone to help me, of course I say please, why isn’t everyone doing it?

    1. cubone*

      Same here. I tipped a server 40% once when the place was completely chaos and they were the only staff member and they just … burst into tears on the spot. They were so grateful and I’m glad it made a bright spot in a bad day, but honestly when I got back to my car I burst into tears too. It just shouldn’t feel that… much, you know?

      1. Eff Walsingham*

        I used to tease my husband and call him “Mr. Rockefeller” due to his very generous tipping habits. But I notice that during the pandemic and as things have reopened, my own previously standard percentage has wandered up to join his. We’re very grateful to have the option to eat out again, and this is a high cost of living area. We would rather have fewer meals out and tip better, than not show our gratitude in the most useful way we can think of.

    2. Elle Woods*

      I’ve noticed the same thing. I had to make a midnight trip to the ER about a month ago. (Turns out it was nothing serious, thank goodness.) When the nurse who treated me was walking me back to the lobby, she thanked me for being so patient and understanding during my visit. I said “you’re welcome and thanks for the great care and explanations you and the care team provided.” Honestly, I was flabbergasted when she said that because it never occurred to me to be anything but polite or pleasant during my stay. A little kindness goes a long way.

    3. Bagpuss*

      Yes, being polite does seem to come as a surprise – and I have a lot of sympathy for anyone doing a call centre / customer support type job.

      That said, based on my recent experience I can see why people reach the CS person in a bad mood . Whether due to staff absences due to Covid, or the great resignation, or what, but a lot of places seem to be hugely under-staffed – with one I gave up and wrote an actual paper-and-ink letter because I had been trying for 3 days to get through via chat or phone (the company doesn’t seem to email as an option). If I had got through after an hour of listening to lift music with interjections every 90 seconds telling me how important my call was to them and that lots of information was on the website (which was where I had looked first, and it wasn’t!) I would have been feeling pretty irritated, although I would not have taken it out on them.

      I’ve notices that an awful lot of service companies seems to be moving to apps and chat bots and making it harder to contact them in other ways, which I don’t think helps. You have to jump through so many hoops, often, to get to a person, so often you’ve already spent a fair bit of time and mental energy before you ever get to speak to someone.

      none of which excuses being rude or aggressive to the employees you speak to, but I think it does mean that a lot of people are already frustrated by the time the conversation starts.

  45. Dust Bunny*

    Academic library: We serve a medical school population and a certain percentage of those have always been egotistical a-holes. I’m in the archives so we’ve always been pretty low-traffic and had a lot of control over who visits, and I don’t feel like anything has changed.

    I would guess that my coworkers in the more public-contact departments have Seen Some Things, though.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Retired surgeons, especially, are high-maintenance. Not rude, necessarily, but they seem to be very accustomed to having people anticipate their wants and do things for them without much explanation. Sometimes getting them to explain what they want is a pain in the neck and they get impatient and rather toddler-ish.

  46. Velomont*

    In no way do I mean to politicize this but we’ve also just recently finished a four year period where it’s been demonstrated that once-normal, visible, rules of civility have been thrown out the window and that histrionics, abuse and violence are now considered acceptable by a large portion of the population.

    1. Astromanthe*

      This is a very good point. I think the other stressors, the pandemic and the subsequent shortages of labor and goods, and high prices, would have been borne with much less anger, had that four year period gone differently.

  47. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    Yes, although in my line of work (IT services for a company) it’s been concurrent with a rise in what I’ll generously call ‘alternative beliefs’ – people believing Covid is a planned event, that vaccines are wiping out thousands of people, that LGBTQ people are routinely abducting children to forceably change their gender, that being white is about to be outlawed, that Jewish folk are bringing in a new world order….etc.

    It’s not all at once, but there’s been a staggering increase in this coupled with intense rudeness and hostile behaviour if told that they are wrong or they can’t say that. I’d hazard a guess that a lot of people wanted to find a single cause of all this chaos and when told that actually no it wasn’t created to win an election they just don’t have the skills to cope.

    Yesterday I had a request come in to the queue for a social media site to be unblocked for a user – it was one of those..errr..let’s say notoriously anti-fact places, I am not listing the url – and when denied I got back a long email of abuse, calling me a threat to free speech etc.etc.

    I just forwarded it to HR. I really do not have the time, patience or spoons to consider the feelings of rude people.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Oh additional thought – people spending a lot more time on the internet due to being stuck at home may have led to some of this. Especially if they’re prone to being convinced by those kind of websites/Twitter posts etc.

      I know it’s been really hard to find any forum during this that hasn’t had an invasion of antivaxx, antimask, antimandate stuff.

      1. Colette*

        I think that’s part of it – and a lot of those sites encourage people to think of those who are different in any way (i.e. are not straight, white, able-bodied men) as the enemy.

  48. AMH*

    I work in the construction industry which is plagued with major supply shortages and delays. Clients are understandably frustrated, especially when something that wasn’t previously short suddenly has an 8 week backorder. I find their frustration completely understandable and let it generally roll off my back. What I’m struggling with is the rudeness and anger of my coworkers who are burnt out from 2 years of this — everyone is on edge and quick to try and deflect blame. I’m tired of being sniped at, of the passive aggressive behavior, and of being the blame soaker for clients. I am not sure how much longer I can last.

    1. EarlGrey*

      I’m in architecture and while i feel personally pretty shielded from outright rudeness since I’m not usually the one delivering the bad news of cost increases and delays, it sure seems like clients expect things to work like they did in 2019. The budgets and deadlines are the same and now we have the impossible task of fitting a project with 2022 pricing, staffing levels, and hourly rates to them. It feels like in 2020 we tried to be sympathetic with one another about how much has changed, and now we’re refusing to accept than anything has.

  49. Rara Avis*

    My husband and I both teach in middle schools, and disrespectful, unkind behavior is definitely way, way up. I think there are several factors: kids are out of practice relating to each other. They have terrible role models in the media/government/etc. And the counselors at my school say that the ability to have empathy is cut down by constant stress.

  50. Anon in Midwest*

    This is a based on my experience at a fast growing Silicon Valley tech company during the past few years.

    The employees of this company are FERAL about company swag/merchandise. We have a limited amount of stock each quarter that gets released to an online store where people can buy their favorite branded items (shirts, hats, keychains, whatever).

    People actually crash the store (via thousands of employees trying to login all at once) whenever a new set of inventory drops. Then they go to the company-wide chat channel and harshly criticize the store for being “broken”, “failure”, and hundreds of comments pile up about how they lost the chance to get one of the items they wanted because it sold out too fast. The comments go on for hours or even days, and they are extremely rude. The best part? The swag is all FREE (via generous annual credit granted to each employee). So they’re b*tching about not being able to get all of the FREE items that they wanted.

    It’s not a great experience when websites crash or things sell out quickly, but the program is limited by budget and having only one sweet person managing the whole thing (in a company with thousands of employees)

    I cannot believe the entitlement!! And yes, it’s gotten worse since 2020. I think people are more empowered to be rude when they’re looking at a computer, not face to face with the person managing the store.

    1. D. B.*

      I don’t know … economics says it’s not really free if it’s scarce, and your company has made a choice not to buy enough merch for everyone to get the stuff they really want. It’s a cruel way to treat employees—like having six dogs and tossing them four treats. Of course they’re going to fight.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Sounds like it’s a benefit, and it’s a benefit that only a few people actually get to take advantage of.

        1. Anon in Midwest*

          That’s a fine point, but I will say there are many, many other benefits that are worth MUCH more money given to all these employees. So the swag benefit is mainly an emotional one.

          The ferocity of their love for swag, and their deep anger when they don’t get what they want, is just pretty obnoxious to witness.

  51. Dasein9*

    I’ve been seeing this trend for a few years now in the US. It’s gotten angrier and meaner here and seems to be coming to a head with pandemic fatigue and increased political instability.

    In this country, people just don’t do things just because they make life better. Profit is the only measure of success.

    – Our consumption is dominated by mega-corporations that find it profitable to make it easy for us to spend our money and very difficult to get help when we need it. (Example: Phone mazes designed to frustrate us before we can talk to a human, all but ensuring that the interaction is stressful and brief as possible.)

    – Our health care marketplace is dominated by a capricious racket that drives prices up and profits from denying us care.

    – Our employers (who control our access to health care) talk about our hobbies, leisure, eating habits, and sleep as though they are implements in the managerial toolkit and only exist to increase our productivity for them.

    This place is mean and getting meaner.

  52. A Genuine Scientician*

    I’m in higher ed, and I’m seeing more hostility and entitlement from the students in the past 3 years than I did in the previous 5.

    Some of it is pandemic related — they’re not getting the college experience they had anticipated, and they assume the professors are in charge of more than we actually are. I got the same email from my university that the students did in March 2020, letting us know that in less than 2 hours classes were being converted to online. I’d gotten an email the night before telling me I wasn’t allowed to make any changes to my course unless the administration told me I could. But I had to deal with a lot of students yelling at me that I didn’t give them enough notice, and that they couldn’t learn the same online, and they shouldn’t have to pay for courses online. And some of it is just that the high levels of stress for the past few years make life in general hard, so they’ve got less patience and are lashing out at what feel like safe targets. They also assumed that teaching online is easier than teaching in person; it’s not, it’s a *lot* more work for anyone who teaches classes in a more useful way than just a person standing at a podium and lecturing.

    But some of it honestly predates the pandemic. In Jan 2020, I had students demanding to know when the alternative exams would be, because they were taking a cruise during the scheduled ones. With the assumption that of course I would create alternate assignments if the first one didn’t work with their schedule. I had others who joined the class in the third week, and who were angry that I gave them the choice of making up the work from the first two weeks or taking a 0 on it; they felt that they shouldn’t be responsible for it since they weren’t in the class then. There’s been a rise in the number of students complaining about not getting As despite the number of hours they put in, while ignoring the fact that they’re only getting 50% of the questions correct (in a fact-based discipline, so there are actually correct answers).

    I turned 40 during this pandemic, so I’m hardly an old curmudgeon when it comes to being a prof, but it does seem like this is on the rise compared to even a few years ago.

    1. Rebecca Strawberry*

      It sounds like you’ve become the frontline retail employee for higher education. You work for an company that charges its customers $70,000+ a year for a service, but have little control over pricing and other organizational decisions. Students aren’t customers in the classical sense, but it sure feels like it when they’re mortgaging their entire futures for a four year degree. It leads to a sense of entitlement that isn’t conducive to learning.
      Honestly, this seems like another American institution that needs to be wholly overhauled before it can get better. I’d love it if we could go back to a system where students were charged a fair price and bad students faced actual consequences.

      1. A Genuine Scientician*

        Frontline, yes, but definitely not as poorly treated as a lot of people in retail are. The past few years haven’t been a picnic for me, but retail employees have had things a lot worse than I have.

        Sites like RateMyProf also do a number on morale.

  53. Nightengale*

    I work with children with developmental disabilities and there always seem to be ebbs and flows, times when it seems like no one is doing well. It is hard to tell if we are in one of those now or this is something more. There are unprecedented waiting lists for mental health services for children in my area, but it is not clear if this is a cause (people not getting the support they need) or an effect (waaaaay more people needing support.) Or both. Probably both.

    But I do have an explanation. When the pandemic started, we – global we – were pushed into crisis mode. There was an emergency and our brains and bodies responded in emergency mode. We put out cortisol and other stress hormones and neurotransmitters, all the things which enable fight-or-flight emergency response. The crisis continued, abated in some ways but is not gone, and there have been months and months of mixed messages and uncertainty.
    We – again collective we – have depleted our coritsol reserves. A psychiatrist colleague said it is though the whole world has an adjustment disorder. Chronic stress, anxiety, depression, adjustment problems, all of these often lead to irritable mood, poor frustration tolerance, poor decision making.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      And when others are rude, it’s sometimes hard to have grace in that situation, to ignore my own adjustment disorder and remember that they too have been suffering. If I can be generous to them, it helps just a little bit – both me and them.

      I haven’t seen that much rudeness in person. But I am sometimes trying to be extra nice to people around me, and I think people react to that just as much as they react to rudeness.

  54. Non-profit Fundraiser*

    I’ve been seeing more of this in the non-profit industry as well…I work in event-based fundraising and over the last few months, I’ve noticed that donors and volunteers have become much more demanding and willing to be rude. It honestly reminds me of some of the customers that I worked with in my retail job 10 years ago. When something doesn’t go exactly the way they want it to, I get voicemails and emails telling me what a horrible person I am and how I’m ruining their whole experience. And oftentimes, it’s over little things like a t-shirt got delayed in the mail or I can’t move a donation to someone else on their team. It’s been hard, I used to love working with our donors and volunteers, and now most days I dread it.

  55. Popinki (she/her)*

    I’ve been at my current job (property tax collector) for almost 14 years and last summer was the first time I’ve thought about changing fields since I started here. There were always rude people before, but were the exception and not the rule. They’re still the minority but… they’re getting nastier. They seem to have this Verucca Salt “but I want it NOW!” mentality combined with “if I nag them enough, they’ll give me what I want to shut me up” when the real world, especially local government, doesn’t work that way at all. No, you can’t pay your taxes over the phone with a credit card. I don’t take debit or credit cards. No, you didn’t last year because this office has never taken credit cards. It’s printed right on the bill that I don’t take credit cards. No, I can’t take your credit card just this once because I have no system for accepting credit cards. Yes, I know this is 2022. Call me a stupid b!tch? Verbal abuse will not be tolerated CLICK!

    I used to get one a season, now it’s one a week and I feel myself turning into more of a grouchy misanthrope than ever.

    1. Sad Desk Salad*

      It’s crazy to me to think that a tax collector wouldn’t have the ultimate in power when it comes to people that pay you…it’s not like they’re customers who can “take their business elsewhere.” If I was having trouble paying my property taxes, cursing out the tax collector would be the absolute furthest thing from my mind. If I ever needed to call my tax collector, I can’t imagine being anything other than absolutely deferential. The mind boggles.

      1. Popinki(she/her)*

        I actually have no power, because I’m basically a bookkeeper. I don’t set the tax rates; the town, county, and school district do. The deadlines are set by state law. I can’t decide what payment types I can accept; my town does, and once in a while they’ll float the idea of credit card payments but it has yet to happen because of budget and logistics. Even my office hours are spelled out in the town charter. Basically at the beginning of the tax season I get a list of names and amounts due. I collect and deposit the money and reconcile the cash in/cash out, and pay the taxing bodies every month. I sure can’t refuse someone’s *valid* payment because they’re giving me lip, although I can and do shut them down if they get abusive or profane, with 100% support of my overlords.

        On a certain level people understand this, but I’m the one they can call up on the phone or go to the office and grouch at. I suggest that they go to town council or school board meetings if they’re that upset, and 99% of the time they blow that off. So lucky me, I guess :D

        1. Eff Walsingham*

          A few years ago I had a property tax issue relating to my dad’s estate. Everything had to be done by phone and mail, long distance, and my home town is… not at the pinnacle of high tech, early adoption-wise.

          But those people in that office were so patient, and explained everything so clearly, and I made sure to tell them that I appreciated it. Sure, nobody likes to part with money, but it’s not their fault that people owe taxes. I agree with Sad Desk Salad: who argues with the tax collector? It’d be like pi$$ing up a rope! If there *is* a mistake, their office is the one in a position help you fix it.

  56. MP*

    I work at a museum and we’ve definitely seen increased rudeness from visitors, especially racially-charged aggression.

    One day, a visitor reported a technical issue. They added that the museum had been closed for a year during the pandemic so we should have taken the time to fix these issues. The museum relies on revenue from admissions to pay its employees. Since we were closed for a year, no revenue meant a lot of staff was furloughed and remaining staff was given a pay cut. The pandemic was not a vacation for many of us or a time to twiddle thumbs. Some of us were taking on tasks from our furloughed colleagues. Our colleagues with children were now working from home and taking care of/educating their kids at home.

    The museum introduced DEI measures regarding our docent program. It wanted to change from unpaid (and mostly white women) staff to paid training and paid position with a focus on DEI. The front line staff was accosted by aggressive visitors. The aggression was so severe that my employer offered on-site counseling for affected staff.

    1. Popinki(she/her)*

      So stuff at the museum only breaks while it’s closed and functions perfectly while it’s open? Gosh, I never knew… /s

      As to the DEI stuff, racism has always been around but the past few years (coincidentally starting with a certain president who never hid his contempt for people of color) it’s become far more overt and nasty than it was. And this is me, a fairly clueless white person noticing it.

  57. CW*

    I work an office 9-to-5 job, and I haven’t noticed anything. Everyone I work with is super nice. We even had a public event a couple weeks ago and there was no incident.

    But in my opinion, between the pandemic, bitter political divides, inflation, and the turmoil going on overseas, it is no surprise why this is happening. People are stressed beyond belief these days. Even yours truly over here. But I don’t act out and take it out on others. I find the right support group and channel it out in a healthy and friendly way.

  58. KSharpie*

    My clients are generally chill but the customers they serve have the potential to actually shoot us.
    I helped write the de-escalation process for my job because we frequently encounter those customers while we’re in the field and they do not like us or our clients.

  59. alferd g packer, esq*

    I work for a state department (not The State Department). Right now we’re revamping our safety processes, in part because of the very thing you describe. However, we also have a lot of millennials and Gen Z folks who are Extremely Online and aware that members of the public who may not care for the state government have avenues open to them to make our lives miserable that didn’t necessarily exist in the past. Doxxing and swatting are much bigger threats than they have been in the past. Data aggregators have our home addresses — even worse when we’re working from home. One of our colleagues observed that we are one Reddit conspiracy theory away from a tragedy.

    Government workers have targets on their backs just by virtue of the employer. It’s not great, but it’s the job. There are a lot of valid reasons not to trust the government — my parents were both government employees as well, and I grew up with Some Stories — but it’s worse now as more folks question the nature of facts (and are facing an ongoing pandemic, pandemic fatigue, rising cost of living, climate crisis, existential problems, etc.). I try to be compassionate but it’s very hard not to despair when you spend a lot of time getting told how useless you are, and frequently worse than that. (Our safety survey showed a lot of gender-based abuse, for one thing.)

    1. Penthesilea*

      I worked in local government until a few months ago, when I took a job with a consulting firm. The constant negativity, distrust, suspicion, etc. were a significant factor in my departure from government. It’s definitely a trend that has been growing for quite a while. In my job, the negativity started ramping up noticeably in 2019 and continued to accelerate through the pandemic. We got an uptick of people calling/coming into City Hall to yell at front line staff about things that were totally out of their control — think yelling at the clerk taking a water bill payment about road construction. Now, I have a job where I do a lot of the same work, but I don’t have to interact with the public. I feel a lot better about myself now that I don’t have to deal with being someone’s punching bag just because of my job.

  60. Lyngend (Canada)*

    Tech support. I started during covid-19. And yeah, the difference between 2020 and 2022 is soooo obvious. The customers yell so much more than they used to. But it’s not a consistent thing, it’s like a rollercoaster or series of hills. Where we’ll have a stretch of time that makes me want to quit. Then a stretch of time where people are mostly accepting of the information I have.
    Just wish people would stop expecting me to have a magic wand tgat would instantly fix any issue
    The only saving grace is that I don’t have to control my body language just my words and tone.

  61. stargazer*

    I work on discrete projects for a large number of clients. At any one time I might have 5-8 projects of varying size, difficulty, and urgency in progress. The number of clients requesting projects be delivered within a few days, or even the same day (!) has gone up tremendously this year. For many of these projects, delivery even within the same week would mean dropping everything else I’m working on. But everyone is impatient and everyone’s sense of urgency seems to have skyrocketed. A couple of times I’ve gotten a “can you deliver this entirely new project by the end of today” email followed a few hours later with “just checking in on the progress here” before I’ve even had a chance to process what the ask is.

  62. Unfortunate Reality*

    Yes, I have seen rising hostility everywhere. Even in a corporate environment. It is incredibly unfortunate.
    I attribute these behaviors to living in a low resource environment where everyone is seemingly competing for everything. Like toilet paper during the early pandemic, everyone seems to be willing to fight and get very ugly over the smallest things and I believe that comes from living where there are seemingly not enough resources to go around. I live in the US so resources are disproportionately allocated to people with overwhelming wealth. It’s an “every person for themselves, fight to survive mindset.” As a middle class American, my perspective is that the system is rigged against my very existence (so many of us are only one ER visit from poverty) and it created an environment where people feel the need to fight in order to exist anymore. Very disheartening to say the least.

    1. Elec*

      I work in a corporate environment and I would describe it similarly. Especially because my workplace is very hierarchy-based, there’s really strong feelings about competition for resources between different seniority levels.

  63. Mooses*

    I had been doing civil enforcement for less than a year when the pandemic started, so it was easy to believe that people have always been this hostile.

    My colleagues tell me that cases are going to trial that would have been settled in the past, and I seem to be on the receiving end of unusual unprofessional behavior from everywhere but our clients. Some of it is my gender and age, but a lot is based in anti-government sentiment of various flavors and degrees. That has gotten noticeably worse even in my short tenure.

  64. Lore*

    I very keenly feel loss of resilience in so many ways; I often feel tapped out emotionally and physically by a schedule that was on the light side in the before times and completely unable to manage my time in ways that were second nature two years ago.
    AND my job has gotten a lot harder–supply chain issues mean we just don’t have the flexibility to roll with unexpected developments the way we used to without blowing a publication date, so every tiny thing that goes wrong is way more stressful than it used to be.

    So I think the distance between “normal day” and “last straw” is a lot smaller than it used to be. I’m tired and frustrated with myself and stymied by the micro-decisions of daily living in a way that I generally was not in 2019. I personally tend to internalize (and externalize) that as anxiety and/or tears rather than anger, so when I hit “last straw” I collapse in a puddle of misery rather than lashing out, But for anyone whose exhausted/frustrated/disappointed mode goes to anger, it’s just RIGHT on the surface waiting to be tapped.

    1. Dino*

      This is exactly where I’m at. I was already struggling more than most in the pre-covid times and now I’m just… unable to leave my house except to go to work to keep food on the table. Can’t even make it to the grocery store, ironically, because it’s too overwhelming and them being out of something I counted on has left me blubbering in the aisle. Which is embarrassing. So yeah, I think everyone is going through that but some take it out on others, some isolate, and others ramp up the kindness.

    2. Chopin*

      Fellow publishing person here, and all I can say is: PREACH. All of this resonates with me, and rest assured that you are not alone.

  65. JC*

    I work in healthcare and ever since the pandemic started to settle down, patients have become incredibly entitled and increasingly abusive. I definitely think that the politics of the last few years have played a major role. People are being told that they no longer have to be polite or understanding, that they can say F*** YOU! without consequence. It makes it hard to have as much sympathy as I used to. If you are rude/insulting/abusive to me or my employees, I will no longer go out of my way for you. You can’t come into my clinic and threaten my physicians or employees, I won’t allow it. It is my job as a manager to protect and stand up for my employees and providers. It is true what they say, you get more flies with honey.

  66. ThoughtfulCarrot*

    I work in nonprofit social services. People are so, so burnt out – both employees and clients. Economic woes are adding on to pandemic-driven challenges. Life has gotten just harder and harder for everyone over the past few years. I see more depression and anxiety in my clients and coworkers. I also think a contributor is the rise of online dissemination of videos showing people behaving poorly in public. It normalizes the behavior in a way that encourages it.

    1. nora*

      I was going to suggest that to some of those in the K12 sector; there’s a lot of public tantrum videos but also a lot of purely obnoxious and ridiculous behavior from popular YouTube personalities.

  67. Allison*

    I work in recruiting, as a sourcer, so I’m not even a recruiter. Recruiters can, to some degree, communicate up and tell the hiring managers that the prospects that meet the qualifications are looking to make way more than we’re able to offer, but we don’t SET the salary bands – that’s something HR ops and finance have a stronghold over, and we have to appeal to *them* if we want to flex up on salary.

    Anyway, I believe in being transparent with the prospects I’m messaging, if they ask about salary I do disclose it, I hate doing that “well what are *you* looking to make?” dance, but then they get mad at ME for the budgeted salary being too low, like I’m the idiot who set that budget and I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t set it, I have zero control over it! It’s fine to tell me you’re looking to make more than that, but please don’t be rude, I’m literally just the messenger.

    1. Posilutely*

      I misread your role as ‘sorcerer’ and thought, that’s it, we’ve found the coolest job ever!

    2. Sad Desk Salad*

      My spouse went from recruiting to sourcing and her stress levels dropped insanely when she did so. Maybe it was her clients that were giving her all the trouble? But the recruiter she sources to is under a ridiculous amount of stress that she doesn’t always have to absorb.

      Add in that she recruits high-level engineering experts in big tech and you’ve got an ego problem compounded by an engineering shortage. And people want to work remote so they can take their big tech money to the sticks and buy a massive house…but they work on hardware. :forehead slap:

  68. Doctors Whom*

    I do not work in a public-facing function, but have been experiencing this with a specific handful of coworkers. Relationships that used to be solid and contain a hefty dose of mutual respect have had a lot of damage done.

    In my experience with these encounters, what’s been clear to me is that the person involved is experiencing an anxiety reaction and they are spiraling. (I live with situational anxiety, my kids both have anxiety, when you live with it it’s a lot easier to spot when other people are experiencing it.)

    I think that the multiple years we have behind us of varying degrees of social isolation, with many of us primarily interacting with 2-dimensional screen beings, has done a lot of mental and emotional health damage and my non-scientific observation is that a lot of people struggle as a result to maintain empathy or abandon it altogether, intentional or not. I’ve tried to give a lot of grace while also not excusing poor treatment.

  69. CoveredinBees*

    It is for this very reason that I have been making an extra effort to be kind and patient with staff in retail, restaurants, customer service, etc. From my own time in these jobs, I know that there were already more than enough assholes out there pre-covid but it seems like there are more now.

  70. This is My Happy Face*

    I feel like I’ve seen a weird dichotomy between people who are much nicer than before, and people who are WAY meaner than before say 2 years ago. When I see fundraisers or charity events, I think they’re hitting their goals faster and people are being more generous where they can be. When it comes to service workers, I’ve seen grown adults throw full out temper tantrums over nothing. It’s strange to me, and all I can come up with is that people are moving towards extremes.

  71. WingedRocks*

    My theory is that abusing frontline staff escalated during the pandemic, and folks just decided that was the new normal because business owners and managers did so little to protect or defend their staff who were subjected to hostile customers. And, no surprise, people are increasingly wanting to avoid customer-facing roles for low wages and persistently rude clients. All of this can be partly be blamed on the laughably inaccurate statement that, “The customer is always right.” Because between the lines, customers see that as their behavior or demands are therefore never unreasonable.

  72. Bronze Medalist*

    I work in a healthcare-related field and have noticed a sharp increase in rudeness/lack of professionalism over the past few years.

    My role is client-focused. I have always received excellent feedback on my ability to manage clients. I switched companies last year and have dealt with more bullies than ever before – just straight-up nastiness and verbal abuse.

    I have been thinking about getting out of this field for awhile, but this behavior has solidified my decision to move on to a different industry. There is no place for verbal abuse (or any kind of abuse) in the workplace.

  73. Posilutely*

    I work in a niche area of acute healthcare and would definitely agree that families, staff and students all have a low threshold for throwing their toys out of the pram at the moment, but for varying reasons.
    Our visiting rules are still under Covid restrictions so families are trying to cope with incredibly difficult situations without their usual support networks.
    Staff are struggling to cope with heavy workloads due to severe recruitment and retention issues and unprecedented sickness levels (a mixture of short term illnesses due to being run down and long term absences for stress/anxiety/depression).
    Students are coming to us with a notable lack of social skills and we’re wondering why but of course they have been taught virtually for the past two years and this is their first time in a workplace.
    Times are tough for all and we’re horribly low on goodwill for each other while we’re all wrapped up in our own problems.

  74. Khatul Madame*

    In government contracting clients have not become any more hostile, but the even before Covid the situation had been pretty horrible. The temptation to be nasty to contractors with absolutely no consequences is just too great.

  75. elizelizeliz*

    All right i am ready to stop working in k-12 schools and switch to your job! What field do you work in? I am truly happy for you.

  76. Sangamo Girl*

    The pandemic isolation and fear has ratcheted up my anxiety level to eleven. Little things are work that I used to be able to shrug off are a big deal. I am constantly in fight or flight mode over the most innocuous things. It’s exhausting and makes it really difficult to self regulate.

    I fight the urge to be snarky or rude but some days I just have to take some time off to get myself together. I’m lucky to be able to do that. Most people aren’t and I think it comes out in interactions with others.

  77. LKW*

    I’ve been very lucky in my career – in 20 years I can still count the jerks I’ve met on a single hand. I haven’t seen any uptick in unprofessional behavior, but more and more I see people who are just tired and a bit overwhelmed.

  78. Dunno, I usually just read AAM...*

    The membership organisation I work for has definitely seen an increase in hostile calls and emails from members complaining that the organisation is publically welcoming of everyone, regardless of gender identity, orientation, race, etc. I think people are (sadly) seeing more open bigotry in the media, which makes them feel freer about repeating it irl.

    Personally I’m with the colleague who concluded after reading an extremely racist, sexist, homophobic complaint email that ended with a threat to cancel their membership: “don’t let the door hit you on the way out!” (I assume she put it in politer corporate speak in her actual response.)

  79. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

    At work I feel like it has risen somewhat (academia) but we have always struggled with parents and students who want the rules bent. But there does seem to be a quicker time to the nuclear option now. (Calling the president directly when a grade isn’t changed. Starting a social media protest rally used to wait until the channels failed, now it seems to be the first step)

    In my personal life I definitely see it and largely because it seems everything is politicized. Every issue or speed bump is instantly escalated to be divisive. Teachers are quitting because students are responding to them with violence and parents are following up on those reports with additional threats. Parents are taking out their feelings of frustration that teens are really struggling with additional mental health issues through covid and blaming the teachers.

  80. Hotdog not dog*

    I work in Compliance in the financial industry. Part of my role is to review, evaluate, and address complaints to determine whether any rules are being violated. At least, it used to be part…it’s pretty much mushroomed into the whole thing. Most of the complaints from clients are not actual violations, but people are filing complaints over things nobody can control and then becoming borderline abusive when someone from our firm reaches out. This week’s winner is the lady who complained that she requested a transaction after hours and it wasn’t processed until the next morning. She had called our associate on their personal cell at around 8 pm; her transaction was completed by 8:30 the following morning, but she screamed at the poor associate anyway. (Fwiw, the system shuts down at 7:30 pm and reopens at 7:30 am daily so the transaction was actually submitted at the earliest possible opportunity.) I had already started logging the complaint based on the report from our associate, but she also called the manager asking to lodge a formal complaint and followed it up with an email threatening to sue. I’m looking forward to logging her complaint when she receives our response letter (which is policy for written complaints), since it basically says “please take your business elsewhere.”

    1. Littorally*

      Oh! Hello, I do approximately what you do. And yeah — our volume has gone off-the-charts crazy lately. Our stats are something like 95% of the matters we review are entirely without merit, and the stuff people find to complain about is mind-boggling.

  81. Sharpiee*

    I’ve noticed a rise……in me, unfortunately.

    I will sheepishly admit that over the past two years I was rude to a few service employees/call center agents over things that were either out of their control or because of minor mistakes that we ALL make at some point. I was never like that before. Not an excuse, but the pandemic stress/isolation just got overwhelming and it manifested in me acting like a jerk a few times, unfortunately. One time (oof) because my coffee was made incorrectly and I SNAPPED at the teenager at the drive-thru, who probably wasn’t even the one who made it. I wish I went back and apologized to her. I’ve worked in the service industry and I know how demoralizing and awful people can be and that makes me even more horrified.

    Service employees were among the unsung heroes of the pandemic and they don’t get enough credit for putting up with crappy people while simultaneously putting their health at risk and dealing with their own pandemic stress.

    1. Sorcyress*

      I know you can’t necessarily go back to that same teenager, but can you try and use your horror at yourself to move forward and make sure you are extra nice in the future? Drop an extra five in the tip jar, clean up the table next to yours that someone left their cup and wrapper at, fill out a “how are we doing” survey with glowing feedback…stuff like that?

      (I know for me, being ashamed about something in the past will make me spiral and feel all the bad unless I can use it as a springboard to Do Better Moving Forward. Not that it makes my past behavior right, but at least I can _try_ and reset the karmic balance some)

    2. Totally Subclinical*

      I hear you. I used to be polite to telemarketers, saying “sorry, we’re not interested” and hanging up — they’re just trying to stay fed and housed, and that might be the only job they can get; my beef is with their parent company, not them. But after getting multiple daily “we want to buy your property” calls, I ended up shouting “NO WE DO NOT WANT TO SELL OUR HOUSE AND WE ARE SICK OF THESE CALLS” at a telemarketer. I feel bad about it, though not as bad as I would have if I’d lost it with a grocery store employee or the staff at my doctor’s office.

      It doesn’t help that there are no consequences. The only thing that’s keeping me from being an asshole to the next telemarketer is that I don’t want to be an asshole.

  82. My heart is a fish*

    Absolutely, both online and professionally.

    It seems to me that a big part of the uptake is people being quicker to take each other in bad faith — whether consciously or not, analyzing others’ behavior through a decidedly negative and even paranoid lens. There’s no such thing as an honest mistake anymore, only a presumption of malice. Someone steps on your foot — that asshole! They must have it in for you! And then things escalate, because everyone else witnessing also interprets everything through a similar lens. It turns so many conflicts that could be easily resolved into death spirals of rage and resentment.

    1. Ampersand*

      I like that you note online here, because I believe a lot of this is related to the rise of social media sites like Twitter and TikTok, where people are fed content consistent with pre-existing views. These algorithm is designed to eliminate opposing viewpoints, or content you don’t “like”, and I don’t think a lot of people seek out that kind of content independently. I believe that is where a lot of the preconceived hostility and inability to compromise comes from .

    2. Bookworm1858*

      Had this yesterday with a coworker who I felt twisted my email to be the worst possible interpretation of my words (he already had an axe to grind with my department and has yelled at the people above me, a director and VP, way above him in the reporting structure!) I agree with a lot of the comments here but this one just really stood out to my personal experience. Thank you for articulating so well!

    3. Coast East*

      Ugh I so agree. Even when I couch my language to be as bright and friendly as possible, if I make a comment online that doesn’t fully align with some strangers’ opinions, a pile on will quickly ensue. Even if there’s no political or social discourse happening, just harmless stuff, people will find a reason to be mean. I’ve started writing out comments and just not hitting “reply” because I dread someone deciding to twist everything I say or invent an argument for no reason. The anonymity of the internet has also spilled into phone calls we get at work. I recently had a man start spouting incredibly sexist comments about my ability to find a part for him while on the phone. (Hey dude, if you don’t know enough about your own engine to give me the right info…the problem isn’t my gender)