Malcolm Cowley wrote a wonderful introduction to a collection of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s stories where he describes the cultural changes that struck America in the 1920s. It was a sharp rift. The young kids of the Jazz Age felt the older generation was morally bankrupt on issues such as women’s suffrage, prohibition, and the war.
America was changing, demographically, too. “How are you going to keep them down on the farm when they’ve seen gay Par-ee” was the refrain, and the young left farms for the cities. For the first time in our history more Americans lived in cities than in the country. America was more urban than rural.
The divide affected lifestyle, too. The older generation believed in saving, while the younger generation knew that spending sparked economic growth. And oh, how they spent, laughing at their elders: Stuck in the mud.
While they were right about suffrage, the war, and prohibition, their economic theories weren’t quite as durable, as the 1930s saw, and many of my older relatives of that generation came to believe a penny saved was a penny earned.
I inherited this DNA.
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The beer supply store around here give us pretty good rates on the grain, hops, yeast and equipment we need, but they’ll nickel and dime us. Ferrinstance, some of my recipes call for malt extract (syrup made from grain), and if I don’t bring a container with me, they charge $1.75. So I’ve saved the old plastic jugs in my brewery, and on the rare occasion when I need malt extract I try to remember to clean and rinse one out to take with me before I go buy supplies.
During my most recent excursion, to make an imperial stout, I gave the clerk the plastic jug I’d brought for the malt extract, ordered the 26 lbs. of malted barley I needed, had it milled, chose the yeast and hops that worked, and picked up a few incidentals.
After I got home and had the kettle started, and looked at the receipt. I saw the $1.75 charge for a jug. Okay. A buck seventy-five, big deal, right? For a jug I cleaned, rinsed, dried and trucked with me to the store.
Could the young clerk at the register have thought to maybe ask?
Sometimes I get the sense that counter help these days is too preoccupied with their future stardom to focus on the job at hand.
I need to be careful with this notion, I suppose, as it could soon place me on the far side of any current generation gap.
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And it’s not like this is an isolated customer experience of late. I took a roll of film for my wife to Wolf’s Camera to have developed. Shots of my new neice the last time we saw my brother, the quilt my wife made, etc.
And they lost the roll. That’s right. I’ve gone back twice now to see if they’ve found it.
This happens after they talked me in to joining their club whereby I get a discount per roll, too. So our latest roll is lost — and the discount on that isn’t worth a whole lot, now, is it?
So now I’ll go back a fourth time to see what they offer as compensation.
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This isn’t of the same magnitude, but maybe it bugged me because of the prior two experiences.
I went to a local restaurant for lunch recently and wanted simply to order a quick appetizer and bring a salad with me back to my desk. I won’t bore you with why. It was what I wanted. But when I asked for this, my waitress said, “oh, I’ll just bring it out to you in case you’d like some.”
Now, if I had wanted the salad brought out on a plate I’d have asked for that, right?
So she brought out my quick appetizer and the cobb salad, too, arranged very nicely with the beets, avocado, chicken, etc. all separate, and then I asked for a to-go container and she said, I’ll box it for you. Of course she tossed it in a box all slammed together with the darn beets mingling with the avocado with the dressing on the bottom (what did I expect? I should have grabbed her wrist in the restaurant and hollered NO!) and I looked at it at my office and thought, you know, your kitchen probably would have given it to me the way I wanted it, yeah?
Is it so hard to give people what they want? Is it just me, or is customer service going down the same rathole that gave us automated telephone answering services?
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I know each of us stars in our own movie, which we’re filming in our own heads. It’s the only place we all get a recurring starring role. But damnit, I don’t want to be a flummoxed, exasperated Jack Lemmon.
This is not the script I wrote!
So what should I get for the lost roll of film?