This morning, at the ticket counter of my usually-favorite airline, Southwest, I was disappointed to hear the gate agent ask an elderly, slightly flustered traveler,
“Sweetie, do you have a form of photo identification for me to see?”
Of course, if you call everyone “sweetie” or “hon,” I’m fine with that: It just means that we’re in Baltimore, or at a diner in Jersey. But that wasn’t this situation: The only passenger the gate agent called “sweetie” was this elderly woman.
Kindness is one thing. Patronization another. In customer service, this is an important lesson to learn. Don’t treat seniors, or the disabled, like they’re preschoolers. For that matter, think twice before treating preschoolers like preschoolers.
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