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

In May, a flight attendant for Southwest Airlines had two teeth knocked out by a furious passenger, according to law enforcement who arrested the woman in San Diego. It was just one of the latest examples as airlines struggle with an unprecedented onslaught of confrontations.

“We can say with confidence that the number of reports we’ve received during the past several months are significantly higher than the numbers we’ve seen in the past,” said Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Authority.

The FAA tracks incidents with problem passengers and says issues surrounding face masks have been a contributing factor.

Union reps have described the situation as an “epidemic of aggression and assault.”

Alcohol also can be a factor. Both Southwest and American Airlines have decided not to resume in-flight alcohol sales right now because the unruly behavior.

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

It’s not just sports stadiums and arenas, the retail industry is also seeing an uptick in bad behavior, often targeted towards employees. According to Emily May, co-founder and executive director of the nonprofit Hollaback!, retailers are seeing an alarming rise in discrimination where floor staff are being targeted for who they are when enforcing safety measures.

“Given the rise in hate violence — which is at an all-time high — frontline workers are more vulnerable than ever,” she said in a statement.

It’s gotten so bad, that at least a dozen retailers including Gap, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Sephora, have teamed up to collaborate on a campaign with the nonprofit Open to All.

“We are trying to create a movement where everyone comes together around the values of inclusion, and safety, where we all can be safe and accepted and belong for who we are,” said director Calla Devlin Rongerude. “We haven’t been in crowds, we haven’t negotiated spaces with a lot of other people for quite a while. I think we’re out of practice with how to be human with each other,” she added.

As part of the campaign, the participating retailers will have access to a toolkit and other resources to support frontline workers.

Grown men fighting over Pokemon cards

As the resale value of Pokemon and sports cards have skyrocketed during the pandemic, retailers like Target and Walmart have seen first hand the impact — grown men getting in physical altercations over these cards.

Last month, a 35-year-old man pulled a gun when he was attacked by a group of men in a trading-card related fight. It forced Target to temporarily pull the trading cards from its stores.

“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’

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