Monday, December 8, 2008

are you being served?

The book "Adventures in Missing the Point" starts out (in a fashion which emergents no doubt approve of) with a story. Whether in the body or out of the body, I know not.

A man (maybe a real man, and maybe an account of a real event, again I don't know) is in a Home Depot, look for a thingamajig (that is the exact word used in the story). The fact that the man telling the story uses the words "consumer canyons" to describe the aisles at that HD tell me that two things are likely; one is "This man if probably a leftie", the other is "this man is probably not much of a handiman".

He has problem finding his thingamajig, so he starts trying to find "a little just-in-time customer service".

I want to scream: Take your eyes off those boxes! Get down off that stupid ladder! Quit visiting with your coworkers! Don't pick up that phone! Pay attention to me!

But I guess they don't, because he laments further...

But it's pointless, and I finally get it: I'm an interruption. An irritation. They'd prefer I wasn't in their building.

They've forgotten why they went into business. It wasn't to count boxes. Or visit each other. Or ignore the customer. They went into business to pay attention to the customer.

Employees like these have missed the point.
Brian McLaren and Tony Campolo, Adventures in Missing the Point, p. 11

Well, let us assume that such an event really happened, and the person isn't simply vindictive against Home Depot for whatever reason. Can we maybe take a somewhat fairer and more balanced look at what is going on?

For example, why is the one worker counting boxes? Could it be because that was what he was suppose to do? That was a part of his job? And it may actually be an important thing he's doing?

And why is the other one on a ladder? Could he be trying to help another customer, who wants something that is up so high?

And the ones talking, are they merely gossping with each other? Might one be trying to get some help for a customer by talking to the other? Or discussing something of equal importance?

And the one answering the phone, are you the customer so certain that it is not important? That the phone-answerer is not helping another customer, or doing something else of importance.

You say that the reason such a place is in business is "to pay attention to the customer". I don't know about that. I would say rather that the main business of a Home Depot is to provide a place where people can buy the types of things they provide--building materials, home fixtures, tools, yard equipment, and any others I haven't listed. Even if we grant that customer service is important, the fact that you have for whatever reason at that moment a bit of a lack in such service still doesn't mean you can thus and therefore make the judgment that the employees have "missed the point".

Maybe it's not all about you. Maybe you should go and trying to find someone who is free to help you, instead of judging those busy doing their jobs. Perhaps you may even want to wander a bit, read the signs in the aisles, and maybe just maybe you'll get a tad bit of satisfaction out of finding the thingajig all by yourself.

Maybe you should cut the employees some slack. A store like that is a complex thing, and most of them are doing their jobs, and likely doing it pretty well. Deal with your abandonment and clingy issues and either find help yourself or help yourself.

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