Saturday, March 18, 2006

Who knew...

...the world would turn into a self serve automat where there's no one at the controls? Wal-Mart at 8 AM is full of shoppers but the clerks and cashiers are absent. All the self serve check out stands are operating with helpful instructions in English and Spanish and a touch screen for those really hard choices -- like how you're going to pay for your purchases. Self serve gas, check out stands at grocery and retail stores, and salad bars (which really aren't too bad since you get what you want). Does no one care about personal contact any more?

Okay, I shop online because that way I don't have to fight the crowds or wait interminably in line, and I don't have to carry it home, just up the stairs from the front porch. And I can shop while I work, but when I get out into the world I like to know I'm not Neville shopping the dust-covered, debris blown aisles for canned food that isn't bulging before the sun goes down and Matthias and the Family come out of hiding. It isn't that I mind being alone, just that once in a while when I venture out into the world I want to see the faces and hear the voices of other people, especially the customer service type that answer questions, blend paint, and handle the cash register at the check out stand. After all, 8 AM isn't that ungodly an hour, especially in stores that stay open 24/7/364. Is that too much to ask?

It was helpful though that the local liquor store was open at 9 AM so I could buy my burgundy (that ended up being Bordeaux) so I can make boeuf bourguinon with an assortment of mushrooms (portobello, Shiitake, crimini), pearl onions, and a deep earthy gravy spiked with porcini mushroom powder and hazelnut flour. First time in the store and the clerk greeted me at the door and offered helpful suggestions, in addition to guiding me around since I'd never been there before, as well as being quite knowledgeable and friendly. Now that is customer service. Too bad the rest of the retail world hasn't figured that out yet.

I'll shut up now.

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