Wednesday, June 16

As America reopens, businesses see an uptick in bad behavior

Crime’s up. Tempers are up.

Across the United States, businesses are grappling with an astonishing rise in what can only be called “people behaving badly.”

Retail workers have been subjected to horrifying attacks based on their race, gender identity or disability. Flight attendants have been verbally — and occasionally — physically assaulted. Aggressive driving has led to road rage, with deadly consequences. Shoppers are brawling in the aisles.

Experts are pointing to soaring stress levels as the trigger for the rise in these types of incidents.

The not so friendly skies

Indefinite bans for NBA fans

NBA fans returning to arenas is a welcome sight for the league, which was reportedly $1.5 billion short of revenue expectations last season as the pandemic resulted in lost ticket sales. Yet, the return of fans has brought a host of new problems for the league.

For example, in Boston, a 21-year old Celtics fans was charged with assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon, after heaving a water bottle at Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving as he left the court at TD Garden.

In New York, Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young got spit on during a playoff game against the Knicks at the Garden. And Washington Wizards star Russell Westbrook got popcorn dumped on him by a fan as he left the court with an injury.

“To be completely honest, this s— is getting out of hand. … The amount of disrespect, the amount of fans just doing whatever the f— they want to do … it’s just out of pocket,” Westbrook said in a post-game press conference.

The league issued a statement on the recent behavior and made changes to its fan code of conduct as a result.

“The return of more NBA fans to our arenas has brought great excitement and energy to the start of the playoffs, but it is critical that we all show respect for players, officials and our fellow fans,” the NBA said.

Many of the teams impacted are not tolerating the bad behavior, placing indefinite bans on the rude fans attending future games.

“Something’s gonna happen to the wrong person and it’s not gonna be good,” warned Portland star Damian Lillard.

Retailers team up

Grown men fighting over Pokemon cards

“The safety of our guests and team members is our top priority,” Target said in a statement.

The retailer said Pokemon cards have since returned to the store but customers are subject to strict purchase limits of two packs per guest. The sale of MLB, NFL and NBA trading cards is still limited to Target’s website.

Remember ‘the Golden Rule’

Whether it’s road rage or other kinds of aggressive driving or tempers on full display in restaurants, gas stations or Little League games — the bad behavior is caused by a confluence of factors, according to Thomas Plante, a psychology professor at the University of Santa Clara.

“We’ve got a tsunami of mental health issues out there with anxiety and depression,” Plante said, adding that our collective stress levels have never been higher.

People are juggling multiple stressors, he said. Among them: the pandemic, death, illness, job loss, homeschooling kids, isolation and other challenges. That frustration can lead to aggression.

There’s also “observational learning,” Plante said, explaining that when people see bad behavior all around them, even by so-called role models, they are more likely to repeat it.

“People model behavior of others, especially highly valued models, like … well-known politicians,” Plante said. “People look at how they behave, which has been pretty bad, and they go and do likewise.”

What will reverse the trend? Plante’s suggestion sounds like something one might hear from the pulpit or a parent: Treat others the way you want to be treated.

“People have kind of gotten out of practice about how to behave in public, and how to behave, behave in a polite, civil society” Plante said.

The Golden Rule can help us get back on track.

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