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Peggy Barnhardt: Who’s serving who?

I was born in the U.S.A. during the A.O.S. (Age of Service) better known as the G.O.D. (Good Old Days). A time when pleasantries were forthcoming upon entering a business, like the grocers — some proprietors even using your name if you were a regular customer. Some stores have tried to revive this practice but sincerity falls short. You get the feeling that it is a reconnaissance effort to shadow the lack of other services that used to be commonplace, and/or to detect any bad intent at the door.Sometimes the rehearsed phrase is given incidentally, while waiting on another patron or in the midst of doing some chore. Companies tend to hire the elderly for this “eight hour standoff” and maybe because they are not sufficiently being supported by other means, they appear tired and compelled rather than welcoming.

When acknowledged, I always wish they could sit and do the job. A nice booth brightly decorated at the entrance would do, with the words “Come on in” stamped on it, and an elevated chair so the person is clearly seen, with a smiling face, handing out coupons — that would be inviting, instead of a mechanical dispenser doing so.

Everything seems to be going toward do-it-yourself. We are being programmed and are performing half of the service we are paying for.

For example, note the mechanics of shopping:

We go to the store. We locate the items on our own. If an issue arises, then the project becomes a “search and corner mission,” if you should accept it (LOL) to find an obscure sales person, stocker, associate, etc. with understanding and the desire to help.

When you arrive at the checkout you are encouraged to do-it-yourself, by signs and sometimes even by a live directional guide (sales person pointing).

Then you — scan your purchase — pay for your purchase — bag your purchase — and transport your purchase.

Of course, variety stores and grocery chains are not the only culprits; fast food restaurants, with their “clean up your own table after you eat policy,” and filling stations with no service rendered at all, are in the same club.

And who is benefiting from our labor? The prices are not lower and we receive no remuneration for our added labor.

Think about it.

Peggy Ann Barnhardt lives in Salisbury.


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