Just today I had two events:

  1. I have been to this cafe for half a year, and every time I ordered milk tea without condensed milk. It was the same 2, 3 waitresses who took order from me, close to every single day. Today, I just said, "The tuna sandwich, and the milk tea please". When the milk tea came, it was with condensed milk. I said to the waitress, it was sweet. And she said with an attitude and rolling her eyes, "You did not say without condensed milk today AND we are NOT TO remember you do not want condensed milk" and just walked away. The attitude was like, "we take 3 dollars from you as the tip and is 90 dollars every month, but the hell with you." Actually, I usually order $10 worth of food and $10 to go, so the total is $20, so people said I should really tip for the $10, because the other $10 is to-go. But I just tip $3 just out of kindness. Most people said I could have just tipped $1.50 and it should be fine. I somehow get the vibe from them it is best I gave them as much money as possible. 20% tip better, 25% even better. But when it is about doing their job with at least a little bit of heart, the hell with all customers. Could it be that they are just too busy to remember all customers? Sometimes when I go, they only have 2 or 3 tables with customers. There are times when they have 7 or 8 tables of customers, but half of the time I go, it was only 2, 3 tables. It is almost like they have nothing much to do, just standing there chatting with each other.

  2. In 2009, there was swine flu, and my bone and muscle sore, and I stayed home and almost slept 20 hours a day. My teacher told us in high school: a flu takes 7 days to heal if you see a doctor, and takes one week to heal if you don't see a doctor. (because the virus situation is cured by our body's own immune system, not by any medication in the world, which is different from bacteria situation (virus vs bacteria)). I might even feel it can be worse if I go to the doctor's office, because during the 30 minute wait in the public waiting area, if I get other virus or bacteria from other patients, then I will get into even worse situation. When I got back to work, they asked whether I had doctor's note. I said no, but I said I had receipt of myself buying one air-purifier in the local Bed Bath and Beyond, and two more from Amazon, because I was at first wondering if it was due to pollen or contaminants. And then one hour later, they fired me. Today I talked to my hair dresser about it. She said she knew of somebody in that situation, but that person had a doctor note, and he sued, and the judge made a judgment that the company had to pay him one year of salary as penalty. She said the difference was I didn't have a doctor note and the company knew they can bully me, because if I didn't have a doctor's note, even if I sue, who can "prove" that I really was sick?

I really don't know why people and company treat other people like trash. How should I deal with that, and have a good emotional health? I think there are sayings such as

  1. all living things excrete every day, but you just don't pay attention to that.
  2. you walk down the path, and there will be road, concrete, mud, sand, and there will be trash, dirt, animal excretion, and you just don't pay attention to the last ones.
  3. use your smile to change the world; don't let the world change your smile.

But sometimes those feel like "wishful thinking" or just "words that try to comfort you". Is there a way to truly accept these things and live a somewhat happy life, with the bad treatments you encounter in daily life, either from people or from a company that you might even think you want to do your best work for?

  • 3
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because “how to be happy when other people treat you badly” is an intrapersonal skill.
    – AsheraH
    Mar 7 '20 at 10:45

I suggest a frame challenge, a change in assumptions. What if you give people the benefit of the doubt and take their actions in good faith, as much as you possibly can?

Here's one approach. When you're unsure how to take something, or you suspect that you've been mistreated, you could spend a few minutes thinking through these possibilities in this order:

  1. Maybe the person was trying to be kind.

  2. Maybe the person was just doing what they think is expected of them — what they're used to doing, or what the conventions or rules say they should do.

  3. Maybe the person is reciprocating something I might have done, even if I didn't realize it.

  4. Maybe the person was being unkind for reasons unrelated to me, such as having a bad day.

  5. Maybe the person is specifically being unkind to me.

If you consider each of these in turn, you might never get to the last possibility. If you consider the last possibility first, you'll see mistreatment everywhere and find it harder to live with.

Is this view of people's behaviour realistic? I do think it's reasonable to assume most people usually do what's expected or normal, i.e. #2, unless ticked off or having a bad day or whatever. But it can't hurt to assume that people might even be kind by default. If you don't look for it, you might miss it.

What's more, when you make a point of responding to people as if they meant to be kind, the assumption can be both mutual and self-fulfilling.

Let's try it in the case of the waitress.

Was she being especially kind? Probably not. She could have remembered who you are and assumed you probably want the same thing as always, or asked to make sure.1

But that doesn't mean you should jump right to assuming she was being unkind. Instead, the next step is that maybe she was just doing what's normal. In this case, that means giving the default order with condensed milk, the same as she would give to anyone else. Yup, that's plausible.

Do you know that she acted without malice? No. She could have given you condensed milk on purpose. But why assume that's her motivation? It just makes you unhappier in the end.

So you treat it as a mistake and say, "I'm sorry, but I meant to ask for my tea without condensed milk. I know I usually ask outright, but I forgot this time. Can I please have a new one?"

How about the doctor's note?

Was your employer being especially kind? Probably not, because then they would have accepted your excuse and not fired you.

Were they doing what they're expected to — what the rules say? Let's see: you didn't show up for seven days and couldn't produce a doctor's note to say why. Yup, it's within the bounds of normal consequences.2 There is no reason to assume there was any personal element.

Even if you did think firing was outside the normal consequences, your next step would be possibility #3: did I do anything that they're reciprocating for? Then #4: are they having a bad day? Only after that would you consider #5: are they specifically being unkind to me for no reason?

Try using this tool to reinterpret times when you've been mistreated. You might be surprised. I suspect based on your post that you might run into misunderstandings fairly often. If so, an approach like this might help you untangle people's motivations, and all parties will come out of the interaction feeling better about it.

As one commenter also put it, it might be a question of misaligned expectations. Is your standard for "normal" treatment what others would call "kind"? For example, do you take it for granted that people remember your orders at cafés and accept receipts for air purifiers as doctors' notes? If so, you can recalibrate your baseline by getting a range of other people's opinions — as you've received here in the comments — and considering them seriously.

1 It's also possible that if you said "without condensed milk" literally every day before this, she does remember you. She noticed that you say exactly what you want and don't leave room for assumption. So she chose not to assume.

2 Consult Workplace SE concerning labour norms and Medical Sciences SE concerning whether you should go to a doctor or self-diagnose and see what happens.


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