Starbucks versus TSA

While at the local shopping center this morning, I encountered two glaring examples of how different people treat private sector workers compared to government ones.

Dropping off books at the Half Price Bookstore,  I observed a woman telling an employee that she would return in a half hour and expected him to be done by then. This was after he had repeatedly said he couldn’t do it in that time. She blew him off and walked away, with the books still at the counter.

Minutes later, I’m taking advantage of free Wi-Fi at the adjacent Starbucks – I’m one of exactly three people in the Seattle area who refuse to pay $5 for coffee – and another woman is berating a female barista, who is cleaning up the woman’s spilled coffee off the floor, because one of her coworkers didn’t deliver the coffee to her table or something along those lines (English was her second language). The barista bends over backwards to placate this woman, and only after repeated apologies does the irate customer relent.

Meanwhile, I’m half-tempted to tell the woman she should try that sort of sass with the TSA next time as she goes through security. Or an officer as he pulls her over and writes her a ticket for not officially signing her vehicle registration. Or the DMV worker. Or, if she were a young mother, the CPS worker who shows up and threatens to kidnap her children based solely on an anonymous phone call.

Whether it’s retail employees or lowly grocery clerks (I’ve worked as both), it’s amazing how people place such high expectations on the private sector, which they should, but when it comes to government entities these standards go right out the door, and it always seems they are “just doing their job.”

The answer, of course, is that one is offering a service, which makes you the customer. The other is not, which is why when you go to the airport it is your duty to ensure that you comply with TSA demands, not the other way around.

Such is the difference between voluntary and coerced interactions.

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