Rude Customers Are Becoming More Common

By Kristi Eckert | 7 months ago

rude customers

The pandemic has caused an onslaught of unprecedented effects on society. It has induced a global supply chain crisis. It has impacted the way children learn. It has prompted many workers to reconsider their career choices. It has invoked an unheard-of amount of individuals to try and bring their guns aboard airplanes. And judging by a new trend, it has caused a large portion of society to completely forget their manners. Time recently reported that businesses across the United States are noticing a sharp increase in the number of rude customers that they are encountering on a daily basis. 

The recent increase in overall rudeness has become overtly apparent across numerous industries. The most notable events out of everything that has been transpiring across the nation seem to be largely concentrated in the restaurant, airline, and medical industries. The New York Times reported that a group of tourists from Texas who were visiting New York City attacked a hostess who was asking the patrons to show proof of vaccination against Covid-19. The fight broke out after some individuals failed to produce the proper documentation. In Philadelphia, a woman at a Chipotle restaurant pulled a gun on employees after she became upset over how long it was taking them to make her food. And in San Diego, a Flight Attendant incurred the loss of two of her teeth after being beaten by a passenger who did not want to wear a mask. These instances, although extreme, speak to a larger rude customer problem that has infected society. 

The medical industry has also been subject to a surge in the number of rude patrons its deals with. One clinic in Cleveland, Indiana has resorted to posting signage that asks their patients to be mindful of the way they conduct themselves. For consistently difficult patrons it employs what it refers to as “behavior contracts.” The amount that it has had to issue this year as compared to others is jaw-droppingly staggering. In 2017 the clinic drew up 9 of these contracts. In 2021 they are at 111 and counting. That’s an increase of well over 1000%.

Why are incidents relating to rude customers happening at such an alarming rate? Especially after so many for so long have been itching and begging for society to return to normal after suffering the ravaging effects of a pandemic? Psychologists are saying that it’s because society is in a state where its fight instincts are severely heightened. Psychologist Bernard Golden who authored the book Overcoming Destructive Anger stated that “We’re going through a time where physiologically, people’s threat system is at a heightened level. During COVID there has been an increase in anxiety, a reported increase in depression, and an increased demand for mental health services.” Many people are simply reaching their wit’s end and it’s coming out in exceedingly adverse ways. 

Cristina Bicchieri, director of the Center for Social Norms and Behavioral Dynamics at the University of Pennsylvania further explained that the unfamiliarity and fears surrounding the effects of Covid-19 that have caused many people to act out has only been exacerbated further by the economical fallout that the pandemic has caused. Essentially, when things were supposed to finally be getting back to normal it became apparent that the supply chain crisis and employee shortages prevented that from happening. Hence the inevitable uptick in rude customers. Additionally, this trend of rude customers likely was put into motion partly because of the ongoing political tensions in the US, thus contentions had a lot of time to fester during lockdown making it much more likely for people to blow up in social settings.

This social dilemma is likely going to perpetuate for quite some time and won’t be solved overnight. Time put it best when they said this is, “….actually a symbol of something much deeper.” It is uncertain how this barrage of rude customers will play out in the future, but it is clear that it is a symptom of an overarching issue that will inevitably reveal itself.