A little effort can go a long way in business

Published 12:06 am Saturday, May 8, 2010

In this business, you tend to dine out a lot. A lot. It is just the nature of the beast. Time is of the essence in a deadline-oriented business, so convenience is key. More often than not, low-cost options are preferable. So, my job and my lack of culinary skills often render me at the mercy of fast-food establishments.

Most of the time, that is just fine. But I find myself learning an important principle. It seems that nearly every time I dine out, I understand just a little more that I am the consumer and, as such, my opinions and desires matter very little.

Don’t get me wrong. The age-old idioms still apply. The customer is always annoying. You can get it your way as long as it is not inconvenient, at which point you will have it our way anyway.

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I mean, it is something that would not bother me all that much except that I have worked in four different restaurants over the years. Moreover, the less-than-stellar service seems to be a developing trend.

A drive-through experience should never take longer than five minutes. It should certainly not ever take more than 10. Sandwich shops should not run out of bread. And key items should not be missing from the menu just because the crew on duty wants off work a little bit earlier.

But that is just me. I guess I’m old-fashioned. I still long for the days of prompt, polite service and people doing their jobs the best they can. But I guess that is overrated.

What’s worse is that the epidemic is in no way isolated to one geographic area. As a sports editor, I get frequent opportunities to travel. And the poor service is a common theme seemingly everywhere.

One night in a town not all that far away, I spent 16 minutes in drive-through waiting on a soda. Yep. A soda. Sixteen minutes. After a while, it became like watching a train wreck. I could have gone elsewhere, but I really wanted to see how bad it was going to get.

Maybe I sound like an old codger, but I think that it is not asking too much to mix accuracy with politeness and promptness or, at the very least, effort.

Jeremy D. Smith is the sports editor of The Demopolis Times.