Monday, October 13, 2014


Anyone who watched the fine old western "Lonesome Dove" might remember the scene when Captain Gus, peeved by a slow and surly barkeep, smashes the barkeep's nose into the counter declaring that neither he, Captain Gus, nor his partner Captain Call,  would ever put up with "dawdling service".

It seems that Americans will not put up with it either, which is why American companies now throw their dollars at the unholy Studer Group and others of its ilk, who in the words of a member of Nurses United, want to turn even hospitals "into Disneyland".

These days, at least in this city, the hospitality script reigns, and a consumer who wants fawning service can find it everywhere that there are frightened employees who fear for their job and health insurance should they fail at reciting the scripts and be labelled  "Low Performers", whose next job will be unemployment.

I am fortunate indeed that I work at the Little Big House. The service mentality has yet to infect corrections, whose clientele are community despised ones that citizens would rather forget. I am proud to say that in Medical Services at the House, the inmates are treated respectfully and fairly. This may be good manners or compassion on the part of Medical, or it may be enlightened self-interest, for no one wants an inmate filing grievances or lawsuits against them, and no one wants  inmates with long memories (which means most of them) coming looking for that nurse or doctor after that prisoner gets parole, or has his sentence "flatten out" (as we say in the business).

I recently paid visits to two businesses I cannot avoid. One was my bank, the other was one of the better grocery stores. Both were Emporiums of Super Scripting.

I went to the bank to buy a cashier's check, which is the way I have to pay my rent when Social Security comes in two days after the rent is due.

The bank was having a slow morning, which gave its employees a desperate and hungry look. As I walked in they lined up as though Queen Elizabeth had just walked in. On every side I was greeted with lots of smiling and  and "Good Mornings". One teller told me she always enjoyed seeing me, and I believed this since the bank charges me 10 bucks for the check, and I, being in a perpetual state of financial uncertainty, buy them often. Another admired my hat. When the first teller's computer balked, she apologized  far too much as I went over to a second teller. As far as I was concerned, the teller need not have apologized. It is unseemly for any human to apologize for an unruly and malicious machine.

Check in hand, I walked out through the same phalanx of managers and greeters, all hoping my day would be stupendous, and all thanking me for choosing them for all my banking needs.

I needed some groceries next, and down the road I went to the Smiley Grocery, where I met the same smiley workforce. If anyone's cat had just died, if their husband had left them, or if the IRS was pursuing them to the very gates of Hell , it did not show. One dour look, one hint of indifference might mean no job and no 300 dollar asthma inhaler for their child.

At the Really Big Grocery, right in the heart of Bellevue, when one asks where the store has hidden the AA batteries, the stocker will tell you what aisle they are in. At the Smiley Grocery they will ask about your day as they lead you by the hand to the very place where the batteries live.  At every turn you will be greeted by relentless cheerfulness, even if you insist on pushing your cart to the truck yourself.

To give credit where it is due, I remember a day two summers ago,after I was injured in a fall and had two black eyes. I was at the Smiley Grocery, and could not see the pay swiper buttons with the sunglasses I had on. A most courteous and genuine store manager did the button punching for me.
I still think he was one of Nature's Nobleman.

Was all this graciousness faux?

Probably not, since this is Nashville. Since this is the South, a place where good manners still persist.
And I do appreciate someone taking me to find the batteries, even if the package lies and says they are Max and may last up to ten years.

So the next time you yearn for the bad old days of lousy customer service and unscripted employees with bad attitudes just  call the Big Monopoly Cable Company. They will treat you like dirt every time. I guarantee it!

A Disclaimer. My cable company is now U-verse, and I like them. If you have problems they will send over a Millennial whiz kid who will politely arrive on time, and fix what needs to be fixed.

Was the young male Millennial going by a script?

Who cares?At least I could blog again and watch "The Blacklist".


Out on the prairie said...

I live in a small town and enjoy being greeted by name

betsy said...

And I'll bet the people who greet you by name are genuine,and if they ask you how you are doing it is because they really want to know!

Mac n' Janet said...

I'm in the South too, so everyone has always been super friendly and courteous. But I do see signs of what you're talking about, hate it when I think it's phony.