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Do-It-Yourself Trend Could Be His Undoing

January 04, 2001|JIM SHEA | HARTFORD COURANT

You just can't get good help anymore.

I know this, because everywhere I go these days, I'm the help.

I do lunch, I have to order it, serve it, and clean the table afterward.

I buy clothes, I have to find them, size them, and decide if they're me.

I need surgery, I have to check myself in, check myself out, and check on me in the morning.

Frankly, I know myself well enough to know this--I'm not someone who should be working so closely with people. I don't have a table-side, bedside or haberdashery-side manner, and no prospects for developing such.

Which is why everyone shouldn't be so all-fired eager to employ me.

Granted, by making me wait on myself you cut down on things like overhead, arguments and complaints. But at what cost?

For example:

If I go some place where I have to serve myself, I almost never go back there because I'm so dissatisfied with the quality of the service.

And who could blame me? For the money I'm paying, I shouldn't have to put up with some snippy smart mouth.

Yeah, this whole do-it-yourself mania is really out of control.

*

Remember when you would pull into a gas station and an attendant would greet you, pump your gas, wash your windshield, check your oil and tires, take your money and send you on your way with a smile?

Whatever happened to that?

Oh, sure, you can pull into a station today and still receive this level of service if you want to pay through the nozzle. But most places you have to be willing and--more important--be able to provide it yourself. And I don't know about you, but any time I pop the hood on a car, new meaning is immediately lent to the word dipstick.

The super-sized, super-duper, supermarkets are even worse.

It's not enough that they make you load, unload and bag your own groceries; somestores now require shoppers to scan their purchases, deduct for coupons, and make change.

Does this mean that in the very near future one will also be expected to:

Get on the intercom to request a price check?

Close the register just before you get there?

Kick oneself out of the express lane for too many items?

*

And let's not even get started on banks, where it is now possible to orchestrate multinational leveraged buyouts at a drive-up ATM machine--as long, of course, as you are willing to pay the $1 nonmember's fee.

The point here is that if I wanted to be self-sufficient, I would have been a pilgrim or something.

The other point here is that while a certain amount of self-service is inevitable, a thin red line has been crossed. Increasingly, do-it-yourself means do unto yourself. And, frankly, I'm sick of the incompetence. I'm sick of me.

And I'm the customer, and the customer is always right, even if I am a jerk.

And, yes, I do want fries with that. But I'll get them myself.

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