Service Please

I like the optometrist at the Vision Center at the Walmarts. I brought Theresa there yesterday for an eye exam and I was in the waiting area one of the workers prattled on loudly about the exploits this past weekend between herself, her ex, and his current flame.  She was also overheard to say, “I’ve got three grown up adults living in my basement so I wanna know why my kids ain’t being watched.”   All the while there was a young guy popping in and out talking to her about how he’s sore from working out all weekend, and how people keep falling into the Grand Canyon.

Theresa picked out new frames while Momma put on her makeup in one of the mirrors.  We went up to the counter to give her the prescription and order glasses. As she started to help us her friend returned to show her pictures on his phone which to them seemed to be an appropriate thing to do at that moment.  I put an end to the visit rather sternly, and after having to respond harshly to the friend’s sass mouth, Momma was able to resume her work.  These two individuals simply thought it was ok to carry on with each other while she half-heartedly helped us.

I see the same thing in grocery stores often enough to call it a trend.  Cashiers jawing with one another about their personal lives.  Recently, the cashier in the lane I was in was complaining about other employees, exclaiming “I don’t keep my mouth shut, I tell it like it is.”  The person bagging said that she cannot, she’s a manager and it wouldn’t be right.  I of course chimed in with “no one should be doing it in front of the customers, management or not, it’s unprofessional.”

After the Walmarts, we went to McDonald’s.  Yes, I eat that crap sometimes, the sausage McMuffins with egg are the shit, so don’t judge me.  Like Redd Foxx said, “you’d feel awful stupid laying in the hospital dying of nothing.”  Anyway, the sandwiches came out and the young lady promised to bring out our hash browns as soon as they were up.  As we ate, I realized we weren’t getting our potatoes since she became engaged in conversation with a young man who was clearly there to entertain her.

On our way out I approached the counter and she got a stunned look on her face and said she’ll get our hash browns.  No apology.  I said we were done and didn’t want them and would like a refund for the difference.  I also told her that if she weren’t so distracted with her friend, she might have remembered to do her job.   Her reply was (use your snotty voice) “Uh, that’s the owner’s son.”  To which I replied, “does his father know his son is disrupting his business?”

What’s my point with those tales of poor service?  Poor service.  Poor service is now the norm.  It seems like most younger people are so distracted with other activities that the jobs they’re being paid to perform are now an afterthought.  It has become ok to chat with your friends, get mesmerized with the owner’s cute son, be on the phone, stand at the hostess stand or behind the bar texting, ignore customers until you finish a conversation or a sandwich.  It stinks, and the labor pool is so bad in the hospitality and service industry that we find ourselves putting up with it.  I see this behavior everywhere I shop, and when I go out to eat.  I’ve seen it at work for the last half-dozen years or so.  The only place I’ve worked recently where it wasn’t tolerated was Chez Nous.  Bravo to Heather for that.  Otherwise, it’s common practice to be on your phone, be eating, and visiting with both your friends and coworkers in view and earshot of customers.

So, what is it, are owners stuck because the labor pool is so shallow?  Or, are young people just not hip to the idea that being at work means being at work, and it’s not a social event?

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