I’ve written in the past about the way in which our society is losing its civility as the economy turns down. The place where this observation is reversed has been in the retail sector. Having fewer customers (and fewer co-workers) seems to have given retail workers the freedom to actually spend some time with the customers they do have and to work hard to make them happy. Meanwhile, in our offices around the country, people are coming unglued for the smallest slight. “Fuck!” is now a commonplace phrase in offices everywhere, and not because someone slammed a finger in a drawer or banged her head on something. No. This normally used only around close friends or after having drunk too much word gets blurted out because the printer malfunctioned, or the coffee pot is empty.
White collar workers are filled with rage. I’m afraid we’re going to start hearing about the return of “going postal” before too long. Gun dealers in the state of illinois sold 38 percent more firearms in November 2008 than they did in the same month in 2007. The problem with White Collar Rage is that these are people who don’t usually get red-faced angry. They don’t know how to handle it. It’s so easy once they’ve decided to let loose for them to go way overboard. They start our screaming at the fax machine and they don’t stop until they realize they’ve bludgeoned the boss into unconsciousness.
So, when you go to work tomorrow, remember that a kind word might make the difference between a good day and an appearance on the evening news. If each of us puts a little extra effort into making our peers’ day better, the overall level of rage will come down and we’ll all be better off.