It scares me that I have exhibited a greater understanding of human decency in my job in the food service industry, than Mitt Romney has, thus far, in his political career. Allow me to explain myself.
I have worked at my local Bruster’s Real Ice Cream since I was 14 years old.
I worked there all throughout high school and I returned the past two summers to toil with sticky, chocolate syrup covered arms over hot waffle machines and grinningly shove sugar cones into the faces of ungrateful customers who rarely felt inclined to tip me.
When one of my fellow scoopers experienced an irritating interaction with a customer, I would totally judge them based upon whether or not they could maintain the grace and friendliness that I could when a customer and I didn’t see eye-to-eye.
Thank goodness Mitt Romney will never seek minimum wage work in his lifetime, because if I were to slap my ugly work visor on his well-coiffed head and hand him a scoop, I know he wouldn’t be able to effectively deal with the customers. Last week, following the tragic deaths of four U.S. citizens in the attack of the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya, Romney heavily criticized the issued statements released by the Obama administration.
The attacks were prompted by an offensive, American made anti-Muslim film that sparked a lot of anger in the Muslim community.
The official statement released by Obama stated that America would seek justice for this tragedy. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also offered a statement in which she said that the U.S. “deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others,” but went on to say that “there is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.”
Romney took advantage of this catastrophic event to criticize the Obama administration and boast his own ideas of how foreign policy should be handled.
In a statement released Tuesday, Sept. 11, he called the Obama administration’s handling of the situation “disgraceful” and went on to suggest that the response acted to “not condemn attacks on our diplomatic mission, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.”
Romney wouldn’t find himself “Employee of the Month” with that attitude.
Sometimes I’d bring customers the wrong flavor of ice cream. Sometimes I’d bring them a cookie dough milkshake instead of a cookie dough blast, or I’d forget to put nuts on their sundaes. Sometimes the customers would be irrational and irate about my errors.
They’d blow my mistakes out of proportion and yell at me until I blinked back humiliated tears.
Still, each time, I’d offer my best puppy dog eyes and sympathetic smile and apologize for my mistake in my sugary-sweet customer service voice until I was certain they were placated. Sure, the customers were wrong to scream at me.
But if I mess up, regardless of the way other people perceive and handle my mistakes, I’m going to apologize. It’s the right thing to do.
Haven’t we always been taught that two wrongs don’t make a right?
Apologizing for inappropriate or incorrect behavior is not a sign of weakness and it certainly does not go against what America stands for.
Clinton’s statement was simultaneously professional and unmistakably angry. The attacks were an inexcusable reaction to a video that made Americans seem hateful.
But, what Romney doesn’t seem to understand is that the best way to perpetuate a hateful image of America — and to invite more attacks and conflicts — is to suggest that apologizing for the spread of offensive material is a sign of weakness. On Monday, Sept. 17, a video was leaked of Romney saying that 47 percent of Americans “believe they are victims” and that he will never “convince them they should take personal responsibility for their lives.”
He then goes on to say that it isn’t his job “to worry about those people.” He’s absolutely right. It isn’t his job to worry about those people. It is, however, the job of the President of the United States of America to worry about those people.
When I got my job at Bruster’s, I understood that it was my job to serve every customer the ice cream they wanted with equal enthusiasm. Customers have thrown weird coupons I’d never seen before on the counter and I’d have to spend a few confusing minutes scouring the surface of the cash register for a button that would make some sense of the madness. I’m not going to say it wasn’t annoying.
However, the customer had come by that irksome “free dino sundae” coupon by circumstances I couldn’t imagine because I didn’t personally know that individual customer or their life story or their struggles. The only thing I knew was that they were just as deserving of a high quality, enjoyable dino sundae as any other customer.
I’d return to the window with the correct amount of change and I would provide these customers with equally beautiful towers of whipped cream as I would present to customers who paid full price because my customers were human beings who were completely deserving of my respect.
I was hired to make sure that every customer was equally cared for.
Romney has tended to politicize courtesy and humanity and compassion in the arms race that has been the 2012 election season.
But at Bruster’s, we don’t call politeness, respect and positive interactions with the people we’ve been paid to serve “liberalism.” We call it “not being a jerk.”
Sarah Moesta is a junior majoring in English and is the Daily Collegian’s Friday columnist. Email her at email@example.com