Friday, February 15, 2013

One foot in front of the other

Having and following a routine, a plan, a course of action is helpful when life gets, um, discouraging.

Things didn't work out well at the dentist yesterday because I didn't go to the dentist, as I had planned. Because he wasn't in. Which means the new appliance I wanted to have in place prior to an upcoming weekend getaway? Well, it's not going to be here.

I could have cried.

And the car? Remember the car that hit the deer nearly three weeks ago? It's apparently missing just one hose that was supposed to have been delivered yesterday BUT THE EMPLOYEE WHO WAS SUPPOSED TO PUT IT ON THE TRUCK FORGOT TO DO IT. The truck shows up at the auto-repair place with goodies for all the other jobs except ours.

You can't help but wonder about the efficiency, or lack thereof, in the modern workplace. I know I'm going to sound like an old curmudgeon, but back when I was working if something went wrong we fixed it.

I was an ad designer for a newspaper. We had deadlines. WHICH WE MET. I mentioned my schedule to my dentist last time I was in and he, I thought, made a note of it. And then he decided to take Thursday off. They're not open on Friday. My deadline for the procedure that needed to happen in order to be comfortable going on this trip was … yesterday. Thursday.

There's nothing to do but live with it, but I can live with it angry. For a while, anyway.

At the newspaper, the ad designers were the next-to-last ones in the office on deadline day. The client was king, and if the client didn't provide copy to the sales rep until the last minute, we ad designers were the ones who stayed late and finished it up and got it to the page designers so the paper could get printed and delivered on time. I don't think I ever, not once, clocked out on time on deadline day.

And the car? Well, back in the day, an ad designer occasionally had to drive to the client to pick up copy when the sales rep was tied up trying to get copy from another client. Or out with a sick child. Or sick themselves. You do what you have to do to keep the client happy and to make deadline.

The part needed for the car is in a warehouse in a city two hours away. Someone from that shop could have – should have – driven there to pick it up, bring it back, stick it where it's supposed to go and have that car ready when it was promised. (We have been told it would be ready every day this week. And the initial estimate for completion was February 13.)

I can only imagine what it's like to be an ad designer these days. The ability to transfer images and words electronically surely would speed up the whole process, right? More than likely it's squished those deadlines ever more tightly up against the printer's schedule. Nerve-wracking it would be, certainly.

I shouldn't be complaining. My life is good. I'm sitting in my toasty warm house in front of a fabulous and powerful little gadget dumping all my frustrations on both of you and drinking freshly made coffee from a handmade mug.

I haven't just been rescued from a crippled cruise ship. I'm not recovering from surgery. I'm not ill or injured. I haven't lost someone recently. I've been putting one foot in front of the other for 134 miles this year, and I'll add a couple more to that total today.

I have so much for which to be grateful. It would serve me well to remember what I have, instead of what I have not.


denise said...

Well color me curmudgeon as well... There was a time when service was king and the customer's satisfaction counted for something. Those times, sadly, seem to be behind us.

Although I would love to see a revival of that attitude, I doubt it will happen any time soon. People are getting used to living with mediocrity. You can tell in their texts and emails - close enough is good enough - "You know what I meant" - so no reason to spell it right or even use the right word - or even a word at all.

Not sure if the "everyone gets a trophy" mentality of the last several years of child rearing are coming into play, but can't help but think it has something to do with it. If you're never challenged to do your best and rewarded when you do, then why bother to put forth the extra effort.

Of course, I suspect some of your issues could also be a bit location based. There in the Middle of Nowhere I assume that purveyors of some services can be few and far between and those that are available figure you'll come to them whether they accommodate you or not - just for the convenience factor.

Anyway, off my soapbox now...but I totally agree that customer service is a lost art. Sorry you had two such frustrating experiences.

Debbi McNeer said...

One of the things that puzzles me about the issues we're experiencing with Middle of Nowhere services is that usually, because everyone knows everyone, service is outstanding. No local entrepreneur wants to get bad-mouthed around here. On the other hand, your theory is that since services are few and far between fits since there just aren't that many dentists or body shops in such a tiny town.

We've already gotten the name of a different body shop, should the need ever arise again. (Let's hope it doesn't!) Unfortunately, I'm kind of stuck with my dentist at this point.

Thanks for your comment, it's good to know I'm not alone in my thinking that service has deteriorated. And, of course, you're recovering from surgery, so my little issues just don't seem like such a big deal. Perspective ... Hope you're continuing to do well with PT!