I am with Aretha Franklin all I am asking for is a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Everyone seeks it, believes they desire it, and some even commands it, but not all give it. Who has not at one time or another felt they were disrespected? Many have debated whether respect an entitlement or something that must be earned? I have often heard growing up that respect is something that is earned, not an entitlement. However, as I have grown I now believe that everyone, no matter the person or their age, is entitled to a basic level of respect. We should all be respected as human beings. Mutual respect should be given without hesitation as equal members of the human race, until we demonstrate otherwise. Mr. Krim Ballentine talks about this all the time.
Just recently, I encountered a very unsettling incident at the airport by a U.S. Customs Officer. My incident, although not nearly as hurtful as the NFL football player that was recently held without compassion by a police officer doing paperwork for the running of a red light in front of the hospital while the players mother-in-law was inside dying; http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=ap-player-stopped&prov=ap&type=lgns.
My personal experience was nonetheless another demonstrate of overzealous and overaggressive enforcement authority. In my situation I was yelled at like an unruly child by one of the U.S. Customs Officers (non local) working here at our airport. Briefly, while escorting someone into the back of the airport terminal, my phone rang. I (without thinking) answered the phone. The Customs Officer directly in front of me signaled with his finger no phones however, before I could end the call a second Customs agent began banging on the glass ordering me to hang up the phone. Feeling that I had been disrespected I decided to express that I was not happy how I was being spoken to. It was my position that a simple request would have been sufficient rather than the negative and arrogant posturing that ensued. I was then told that I should not be standing in front of their station as I was not the traveler. I was told to be quite. I was also threatened to be escorted into Custom's backroom. I gave it a rest until the individual that I was escorting boarded the plane. Prior to departing I asked for the Custom's manager and filed my report a few days later on line. My concern and reason for this article is primarily this; I was wearing a badge that authorizes me to escort visitors through the terminal issued by the Port Authority. The badge that I wore did not come easy. It was not a matter of just passing a local VIPD background check; I was fingerprinted and investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Customs officers were well aware of the scrutiny that comes with being given the authority to wear such a badge; however, I was given no respect or consideration that maybe, just maybe I had forgotten the non cell phone policy. So, if they were willing to over aggressively harass me, a local that has passed a stringent background check, how are they treating the thousands of tourists and especially locals who exit our territory each day? In a recession that many are calling nearly as bad as Great Depression, now, more than ever we need to demonstrate that we understand the connection between how we treat individuals that visit our territory and the revenue we must continue to generate that takes care of us. Wearing a badge does not give the wearer of that badge a license to abuse or disrespect another individual. As those that are taught to trust and respect officers; those one or two rude officers that abuse their authority can, and often do tarnish the reputation of all officers as many of those that have negative unwarranted encounter with those sworn to uphold the law more often than not paint the label of abusive with a broad brush. I personally know local customs officers and police officers that are respectful, yet effective. So, it is my opinion that one does not have to suffer at the hands of the other. Whether it is a taxi driver, police officer, ticket agent, rental car representative, bellman or woman; the visitors experience is based upon two key events: arrival and departure. Whether they come back or suggest that friends and family visit is directly tied to how well we welcome them and how well we see them off! We all need to remember respect is an entitlement and wearing a badge/having a gun does not give one an exemption from demonstrating respectful behavior.
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