Wednesday, November 24, 2010
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Letter to the Editor - Shut Up and Eat It

I have seen it in old movies. I have read about it in a few books. I have even seen it depicted on the History Channel, so it must have been real, right? I have seen portrayals of a beautiful piece of Americana, in which businesses, large and small, would cater to their customers, unparalleled by today’s standard.

Attending employees would smile, precision was the order of the day—everyday—and you wouldn’t be taken aback if the manager would stop by to thank you for your business! I have seen pillars of civilized enterprise that seemingly invented customer service, and would have stood for nothing less than adherence to it!

Today, well…not so much. I understand we now inhabit a world moving at mach 1. I see the fact that we have populated to the point of near combustion, and there just isn’t enough time to be divided between us all. I understand further, that some—if not most—would like the formalities dropped so they can just get on with their day. After all, you cannot talk on the phone, scream softly at the kids, and still have the time for hand shaking. I see now, more than ever, that there is “No time for love, Doctor Jones”. That being said, I also happen to believe a balance should exist.

Somewhere down the line, the customer service thing turned from the main course into regurgitation. Every time I, or anyone else I know, goes for their quick and painless meal solution, they receive everything but. I have found that fast food becomes much slower when you have to, what I like to call, “double tap.” I assure you I would not waist my efforts over a few pickles, as I am not that picky, I promise. However, when you forget whole sandwiches, I tend to take notice. Your author is a being who lives for meat and potatoes. When I go out, wait in line, come home, and discover that I do not have any meat and potatoes to show for my efforts, I die a little bit every time.

Then comes the inevitable drive back for the infamous, “Sorry”. Sure, they fix the food. Wouldn’t it be petty theft if they didn’t? A few times sorry is fine, but when I can count on “Sorry” like I’m counting on the food to kill me one day, then something’s gotta give! I think we all know that the fast food industry isn’t a rewarding one. If the money was right, I believe we would have neurologists and engineers asking us to drive around to the front and wait, because they are waiting on the fillet o’ fish sandwich to finish microwaving. The point that I have been driving toward, is that “Sorry” doesn’t fix anything. It is that regurgitation after the stomach is upset, rather than the medication that avoids the situation entirely.

I feel a change is called for! Either wages for these positions must increase, which would help to bring in a workforce that isn’t dead from the neck up, or managers must undergo daycare training before assuming the role of supervisor. A well paid job is a competitive job, which, in turn, attracts a competent individual, or at least gives the current employee a reason to take their job more seriously. With the alternative, we find a busy manager running around ineffectively saying, “No-No”, and, “You can’t put that in your mouth!” I feel that a commission-based system could work, but some people would inevitably starve to death.

It’s not all bad, though. I have come to depend on some of the smaller, locally owned franchises. There is still a faint glimmer of that Americana I wrote about. I don’t know what they do different, but somewhere around here, somebody actually cares about their business. They may be smaller, but their quality and attention to detail have far surpassed most of the mega franchises. I salute these and every other operation in town that doesn’t take the ever-popular stance of the day: “We know your order was wrong. It will be wrong on time, every time! Just give us your cash, shut up, and eat it! Oh yeah…Sorry”.

—Josh Ashby


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