Service

service
"Best Wishes! Your Customer."

My car dealer treats my like a duke. I'm there for an oil change and I'm greeted with a servile deference ordinarily reserved for visiting royalty. I ain't royalty and I ain't on no diplomatic mission. I came for my twenty four thousand mile service. Nothing more. I am nobody's "Sir." Please do not mind your Ps and Qs with me. Gimme a little shit, please, and I'll give you some in return, then we might hold some chance of connecting, of forming a relationship. Your best behavior seems wasted on me and could not possibly be any less appropriate to this situation. Treat me with less pomp and more attention to the circumstances. I'm unimpressed with that box of fresh doughnuts, which, by the way, seems most interesting to your sales associates, who have formed a steady if stealthy stream through the Customer Waiting Area since I arrived. That TV suspended above me seems more threatening than entertaining, distracting me from my reading. Nobody else's watching it, either.

Service has been earning a bad reputation for decades.
It is not, as so often practiced, a kowtowing kind of activity. Nobody's customer is actually king and those who prefer or insist upon being treated like kings (or queens) encourage the provider into the most degrading role. This is a car dealership, not the Ritz. I am a run-of-the-mill car owner, not the Chairman of the Board. Even if I deserved to be treated like a piece of 1%-er shit, nobody deserves to feel the need to treat me like that. I would prefer that you have a little dirty grease beneath your fingernails to reassure me that you've actually been beneath my ride's underside. I'd prefer that you speak in the barely-intelligible local dialect common to the common man here, rather than as if you'd taken elocution lessons from some former undersecretary of commerce. Treat me like family, not like your overseer.

Your red carpet seems wasted on me. I want good but cheap, never excellent and expensive. I'm not afraid of you and I do not want you to be afraid of me. The questionnaire you send me suggests that you expect nothing less than excellence of yourself, which seems simply a self-defeating expectation for both of us. I did not come seeking excellence. If you perform your job flawlessly, I will not notice. I am not personally qualified to judge whether you performed your job correctly. If I blow a piston over the next few weeks, I'll be back and questioning. If not, I will forget I ever stopped in unless we manage to forge some sort of connection during my stay. If you bow through the entire duration, I'll get to know the back of your head a whole lot better than I ever will remember your face. I might—and not warmly—recall how you attempted to disgrace yourself before me.

Be polite but not puerile. Be attentive but not rapt, for cripes sake. Be friendly without becoming huggy. I do not need your hug. I get that sort of attention at home. I feel properly breathless when you present the bill. I pay it with the humility I understand the context demands. I will leave with the fleeting feeling that I've been fleeced, understanding that over time my fleece will grow back and I will say little more than what a plaintive bleat might communicate. I will wish you a good day and hope for better for you and for the next customer in your queue. I understand that you're imbedded in a machine that does not reward feelings. Your bonus will depend upon whether I can imagine what excellence might have entailed. I reward you with a Very Good, which seems to be how your survey calibrates Average.

Best Wishes,

Your Customer

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved









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