Respect

While having lunch at a local restaurant, I noticed a woman carrying an overflowing briefcase accompanied by a teenage boy who was obviously not her son. I was sitting close enough to overhear some of their conversation (yeah, I know…shame on me). It seems the woman was a social worker of some sort supposedly helping the young man who was new to the area. Another woman, who was also working in the restaurant as I has seen her pecking on her laptop when I entered, approached their table to discuss her free-lance efforts at saving the world. The second woman was apparently having trouble finding the appropriate free services for her non-paying client, so she asked the paid social worker for advice which the first woman promptly dispatched. This advice was followed by a lengthy conversation about website development, mutual acquaintances, mutual praise, and other gossip. On the face of it, this restaurant seems to be a hotbed of public service providers.

After the second woman left to go off and save some other poor soul, the first woman asked her charge how he liked his food and then proceeded to answer a phone call where she discussed at length another case she was working on. Eventually, she asked the young man if he wanted to go to his school to check on his schedule for the upcoming year and they departed. One wonders what the gist of their meeting was intended to be. 

What struck me about this scenario was that neither the professional nor amateur social worker respected the young man’s time enough to devote the lunch meeting to him and whatever his issues were at the time. Nor did they respect the privacy of their other clients whose issues and names they were bandying about in public.

The moral of this story is two-fold. First, if you are meeting with someone give them your full attention, especially if you are getting paid to meet with them (even if it is only taxpayers or non-profits paying you). Second, just because the person you are paid to meet with is a teenager doesn’t mean they don’t deserve your respect. This goes for small children, elderly persons, handicapped persons, persons of different skin tones, basically everyone. You get the idea. Karma works two ways; don’t tempt her.

photo credit: blog.cognifit.com

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