With the holiday season well underway, Random Acts is taking the time this month to focus its efforts on those who often spend the busy season doing more giving than receiving. While the work that hospitality, retail, and service workers do during the holidays can often go overlooked — what parent hasn’t hurried past the customer care employee greeting people at the door, in their quest to snag that hot-ticket item for the kids? — the time it takes to stop for a moment and #GetKind is nothing in comparison to the joy a small gesture of gratitude can evoke. Instead of brushing past those offering their assistance the next time you’re out in search of the perfect gift for your sibling, significant other, or favorite pet, we’re challenging you this December to pause and spread a little holiday cheer of your own.
How can I #GetKind for hospitality, retail, and service industry workers?
Aside from the obvious gestures mentioned above —stopping and smiling back at a kindhearted employee or genuinely thanking a retail worker offering some assistance — there are a few ways you can #GetKind this December:
- Cheer up an employee who’s having a hard day. Ever witness an innocent retail worker get chewed out by a frustrated customer (whether the customer was in the right or not)? Not only are situations like this uncomfortable for everyone involved, they’re especially stressful for the employee, who may or may not be able to control or address the situation themselves. If you witness a little Bah! Humbug! this holiday season, do your best to step up and be extra kind to the employee or service worker in question, whether that’s by lending a big smile and assuring them that they’re doing a great job, or by wishing them a happy holiday and making small talk to take their mind off the previous encounter. It may not seem like much, but it has a bigger effect than you might realize.
- Check your own words. It’s supposedly the “most wonderful time of the year”, but it doesn’t always feel like it — especially when finances are tight, everyone needs gifts, the kids are screaming about Santa Claus, or you’re hauling suitcases and presents through a crowded airport on your way home from college. And while it would be easy to join everyone else in venting some of that frustration on the tired looking gate worker handling multiple passenger requests at once, all it takes is a little extra worthwhile effort to watch your tongue and err on the side of kindness. Already lost your temper a bit? It’s okay — we’re all human, and humans make mistakes. Remedy the situation by approaching the worker in question, giving a heartfelt apology, and letting them know you appreciate what they do.
- Give people the benefit of the doubt. The toy that you wanted to buy for your niece or nephew isn’t in stock, and the customer service employee behind the desk says there’s nothing they can do until January. Here’s an easy #GetKind tip: Believe them! Flight attendant telling you the aircraft is overbooked and you’ll need to stow your bag beneath the plane? Trust that they’re just doing their job to the best of their ability and try to work with them. Is the staffer at the front desk of the local hotel adamant that there aren’t any rooms left? As grumpy as it might make you, trust that they’ve done all they can to get you booked, and politely ask for advice on what to do next. Sometimes situations are simply out of our control, and the last thing anyone needs is someone questioning their efforts.
- Give workers a holiday treat of their own! Whether it’s the local coffee shop workers putting in extra hours or the cable, heating, or internet employees working overtime to ensure everyone has what they need during the busiest time of the year, it never hurts to treat people to some well-deserved holiday sweets or a gift they can take with them. Write a card or note for the woman fixing your water heater, buy lunch using your Random Acts-sponsored funding for the baristas around the corner, or take coffee and holiday cookies to the movie theater employees putting in hours on Christmas Day, when everyone else is still sleepily opening gifts in their pajamas — you never know how much your small act of kindness might change someone’s day for the better.
- Leave an extra holiday tip, if you’re able. Service workers like hairstylists, bartenders, and waiters all have to put up with increased demands during the holidays, specifically due to the increase in foot traffic in the establishment, last-minute appointments, or simply more customers clamoring for their attention at once. The general rule for tipping may fall between 15-20 percent of your bill, but during the holidays, that rate increases a bit. If you’re able, leave behind a little extra tip for a job well done, and to thank that worker for all they do year-round. If you’re unable to leave a little more than usual, you can make up for it with a kind smile, a handwritten note, or a profuse thank you and some holiday wishes.
There are plenty of ways to #GetKind for hospitality, retail, and service workers this December. As anyone who’s ever worked in those industries will tell you, whether you know it or not, your small gesture of generosity will go a long way in making their lives a little easier. And really, isn’t that the whole point this holiday season?