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Shopper or clerk, rudeness still bad

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Dear Harlan: I work in retail and have had my share of angry customers. The proper response would have been for "Punching Bag" to call a manager to deal with customers who are very irate, loud and having "Shopper Tantrums." — Hourly to Manager

Dear Hourly to Manager: Yes, "idiot" customers having "Shopper Tantrums" are still customers whose money pays workers' salaries. I suppose idiot customers are unavoidable, and learning how to cope with idiots is an added bonus. Clearly, these idiot people are a part of life — inside and outside the mall.

Dear Harlan: In your column regarding retail rudeness, you say: "Rude customers are just joyless, unhappy people with little to celebrate in their lives." "Miserable people hate happy people."

I am trying to find one grain of compassion in what you wrote. You are condemning en masse unhappy, joyless people for their being so. Did it occur to you that some clerks are miserable people also and ASK for bad treatment? They are joyless too — but you are entirely against the customers. And you spout such generalizations: "miserable people hate happy people." You simply haven't been around life enough to pronounce such pat, absolute conclusions.

You show great immaturity in your outri (look it up) judgmentalism and lack of humanity (no compassion, faulting people for their being unhappy, etc.). I am eschewing your column from now on. You have shown your true colors, and I do not like them; they are very ugly. — VV

Dear VV: While you're eschewing my column, I do hope that someone who isn't eschewing the column will find you and read this to you.

If you were a regular reader of the column, you would know that I'm overflowing with compassion and sympathy. Perhaps, you caught me and my outri judgmentalism (yes, I'm still looking it up) in a moment of miserable joylessness — yes, we all have them. Still, I do appreciate your bringing up all those angry retail workers on the other side of the counter. The difference is this — not all workers are wonderful and sweet, but at least rude workers have supervisors who can hold them accountable. Rude people don't. Retail workers must put up with a lot of needless abuse and can't do much more than grin and bear it. Regardless of the customer's unhappy situation, no retail worker doing his or her job should be abused — verbally or physically.

And as for my suggestion of "accidentally leaving the security tag on clothing," it was said with tongue in cheek. I apologize for those of you who took it literally, especially those of you who came home to find security tags on your clothing.

Write Harlan at harlan@helpmeharlan.com or visit online: www.helpmeharlan.com. All letters submitted become property of the author. Send paper to Help Me, Harlan! 2506 N. Clark St., Ste. 223, Chicago, IL 60614. © King Features Syndicate Inc.