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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Do staff receive proper respect?

Published: November 22, 2013
Section: Opinions, Top Stories

This past week, the most remarkable, amazing and heartwarming thing happened here at Brandeis: Dunkin’ Donuts finally opened. After almost an entire semester of pining for a sweet Boston Kreme, hash browns and a Coolatta, my chance finally arrived. While the establishment was open in secret over the weekend, the grand opening was this Monday. I managed to make it there after class in the afternoon, and needless to say, it was packed. Students were crammed inside the little building to wait in line.

As was to be expected, the staff was having a little trouble behind the counter. It was the first day; mistakes were bound to be made. However, the staff were apologetic and eager to fix any blunders. Some people, though, were not forgiving of the opening-day struggles. A girl in front of me in line decided that she knew exactly what the problem was behind the counter, and whispered to her friend (though loud enough for me to hear) that they had too many people working and that the staff should be doing specific jobs … all this as she had her back turned to the counter, and while one of the workers was trying to get her attention as her order was fixed. This girl asked for a kosher bagel, a reasonable request. When the bagel came back with the cream cheese already on it, she was livid, and demanded that she get another one. So the worker got her another bagel, graciously trying to please the rude girl. But she could not be satisfied. She took her second bagel and almost immediately brought it back up to the counter. “I wanted this toasted,” she said impatiently. The person behind the counter tried to explain that if she wanted it to be a kosher bagel, it couldn’t be toasted. She hadn’t thought of that. Luckily for her, she found something else to complain about, as her friend pointed out that a kosher bagel should not be cut, and hers was. This time, however, the customer did not ask for a redo. She fumed a little more about not being able to get a toasted bagel, muttering a lot of “I can’t evens” and shaking her head, as if the staff weren’t trying to help her. Then she went back to her table and ate the non-kosher bagel anyway.

She ate it anyway.

I stood in line, audience to the entire scene, in awe. How could one person be so rude and condescending over a bagel? There is nothing wrong with asking a food establishment to cater to your religious dietary restrictions, but this particular student, perhaps because we go to Brandeis and there is the notion that with a larger Jewish population it is to be expected, did not acknowledge the fact that for Dunkin’ Donuts to cater to this is a courtesy for which she should be thankful. When the order was completed incorrectly, she jumped to correct them, yet she clearly didn’t know how everything worked. And then to eat the non-kosher bagel anyway, to me at least, hints that perhaps keeping it kosher wasn’t the driving force behind all of her complaints.

Here at Brandeis, there is a palpable niceness in the air. Almost every one holds the door open for those behind them and is courteous to strangers in whatever setting. It’s one of our things. This girl didn’t get it. When she first started attacking the staff, the first thought that came to my mind was, “Check your privilege.” Who do you think you are? This was the first official day that Dunkin’ Donuts was open and was probably the first real shift for most of the staff there. People were crowded elbow-to-elbow in line and waiting for orders. This customer needed to take a breath and cut the staff some slack. There is nothing wrong with wanting a kosher bagel and asking for another if it wasn’t done right. But there is no need to create a scene or forget that the workers behind the counter are trying their best to get the order right. It is possible that nobody working at the time kept kosher themselves, making the dos and don’ts of kosher products all the more difficult for them to keep straight. Patience is a virtue that this customer did not have. So as we all enjoy the new Dunkin’ Donuts, or any establishment on campus, let’s remember that this campus caters to a myriad of dietary restrictions, and that it is a privilege for which we should be grateful.