Playing the blame game

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
The customer isn't always right, says parenting columnist Ian Munro.


Last week I observed an event in a corner dairy that left me a little shaken. No, it wasn’t a robbery, but an incident over an ice cream.

A young shop assistant was crafting an ice cream for a pre-schooler. I say "crafting" as she was taking great care rolling it. She finished by patting it into the cone and passed it to the child.

The child, holding it almost horizontally, took her first lick as they walked to the door and the inevitable happened. The ice cream fell to the floor. Screaming commenced at a level suggesting serious injury had occurred. The mother immediately turned on the assistant and began berating her for her poor ice cream-making skills and demanded a replacement be produced.

Flustered, the assistant told the mother she would need to pay for a replacement. At this point the berating became distinctly abusive. My attempt to placate matters earned me a volley of abuse as well.

At this point, the shop owner appeared from out the back, no doubt drawn by sounds indicating that serious physical hurt was occurring in his shop. He gave permission for a replacement ice cream to be rolled and attempted to engage the mother in conversation to take the focus away from his employee. However, she would have nothing of it and continued to lecture him about employing quality people.

He felt the need to apologise in an attempt to placate the mother, but that unnecessary apology did not placate her. Her parting shot was that she would never shop there again and would make sure none of her friends did either.

Their attire and the vehicle that the pair drove away in would suggest that money for a second ice cream wasn’t the problem. It was a case of her daughter making a mistake and a need to blame someone else for it - a nasty, abusive attack being the preferred mode of doing this.

Unfortunately, we see so much of this today - youngsters shown that there is no need to take responsibility for your own actions so long as you get in first with the diversionary attack and blaming.

If this is how this mother approaches life, she’s in for a very rude shock as her daughter begins using this approach against her. But, of course, it will be someone’s else fault - probably the school, her friends, or both.

I explained to the shopkeeper what I had seen happen and he told me that this sort of situation arose more and more, stretching "the customer is always right" approach almost to breaking point. However, he was quick to assure me, the majority of his adult and junior customers were "lovely people".


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