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Posts Tagged ‘America’

What is wrong with American businesses?

Nashville, Indiana is a three light town. In fact, those three lights are the only traffic lights in the whole county.

We HAD three fast food restaurants and a dozen or more sit-down restaurants. One of the fast food restaurants closed a few years ago. Every time you would go in to order the ‘special,’ the teenage employees had no idea where it was kept. They were friendly and seemed to clean, but they had not been told, by management, where he unpacked the latest seafood special. One day, there was a notice in the paper that that “Ayee, Matee” restaurant was closing. The quote from the owner stated that he could not find good help.

EXCUSE ME!  The help was fine. The person who was supposed to train and communicate with them sucked.

Gaffer has worked for enough restaurants that we know the difference between great management, “AYE! Rea of Subways” and less than great management. Like those who stand around and watch the chaos then go into the backroom and hide.

Restaurants are not the only ill run businesses. Have you ever called Sam’s Club? I just did. I dialed, music answered. For ten minutes there was not one word but music. I hung up, hoping I had gotten a wrong number. Nope, that was them. When someone finally answered and I asked if she realized people were listening to music for ten minutes not knowing if they had gotten through to Sams Club or not, the answer was, “We are busy.”

The reason I phoned Sam’s was that I actually wanted to phone a cheese company. When I purchase a two pound block of cheese, I rather expect to get a two pound block of cheese, not one with a test hole bored through it.

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Sam’s has offered to replace the block of cheese. At least they’ve got customer service right, now if they could just fix their phone system.

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When I was a girl, and boy am I dating myself here, you could take an auto trip across America and eat your way across this country, trying foods that were new to your palate and never eating fast food.  There were grits in the south and vinegar on fries in Canada. The architecture was not all the same; as my neighbors pointed out to the rest of our rural block when they came home from California and painted their home a “California lavendar color.” It was shocking, in a block of white and tan homes.

 

Now, we travel and it’s the same choice in every town, TGIF or McDonald’s and Arby’s.  Regional flavors and differences are disappearing and not just in food either.  Wide Awake in Wonderlands is on a backpacking/hostel tour of Europe. She is reliving her “after school” type tour and finding the same thing in Europe.  Where hundred year old buildings house designer label stores. 

 

Before the rest of the world becomes too homogenized, with McDonalds popping up in the Colliseum and Western clothing the norm:  I would love to take pictures of:

 

The architecture of India as a backdrop of the electric color of Saris and food of India

 

Dusty African planes and the smiles of their people.

 

Architecture in Japan and the beauty of simplicity their culture respects

 

The Outback in Australia and the life of the fires of the Aboriginal people

 

Markets of spices and vegetables everywhere

 

In the meantime, I will travel with Wide Awake in Wonderland and Anthony Bourdain and today, I am off to the wilds of Tennessee, to visit relatives and where the only thing exotic that I have experienced in other visits is the southern accent of my cousin who was born and raised in Indiana.

 

OPPS!! Trip just cancelled because of Ike.  Apparently roads into Tennessee are being closed.  Hmmm! Does that keep the rain out?

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Yesterday, I watched a repeat of Anthony Bourdain’s Anthony Bourdain’s Blog: Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations : World, Travel, Food, Wine No Reservations in India. It was the “Bollywood” episode where he did this stupid skit about being a director and casting Bollywood parts for a movie.  Now, Bourdain may enjoy these skits, but it never looks like it. Why do his show’s producers find it necessary to waste time on them? Frankly, I would rather hear him grouse endlessly than watch some lame kindergarten skit.  I actually like Bourdain’s grousing.  He does not sugar coat things, but tells it like it is.  Skits on television, however have not worked since the Carol Burnett show. But, I digress, as always.

 

In India, lunch survives globalization – International Herald Tribune

 

What I found amazing on this episode is the lunch system in Mumbai, India.  Fresh home-cooked lunches are delivered to office workers every day; from their own home  usually.  What this article did not mention, and what Bourdain did cover, is the rate of mistakes.  Once, every three or four months, one lunch is miss-delivered.  Or, as Wikipedia says: there is one mistake in 6,000,000. Dabbawala – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia   One mistake in 6,000,000.

 

Wow!  Picture that in most of America. Where, you are lucky to get the right order at McDonald’s on any given day.  Where, the Wal-Mart employees do not know how to make change without a register telling them.  Where, I will get the wrong mail, on average, once a week. 

 

Do these lunches actually stay warm during all of that travel?  The one they delivered to Bourdain appeared to be steaming. I believe the reason they do not just carry their lunches in themselves, is there is a very long commute involved. And, vegetables do not microwave all that well.  Or, perhaps it is just that home cooked quality means something in India.

  

My mother loves to eat out, so anytime I take her to town, we hit a restaurant. After sixty years of cooking for family, I can’t blame her.   This wrecks havoc on my diet, but mostly because I forget to order something that is good for me to eat.  It’s a habit I need to get into. We often do get thoroughly burnt toast or raw or burnt bacon (This reminds me of being home, actually!).  I rarely complain, but occasionally I point out that I do not like my toast black. Mother comes from a generation who thought that suffering was the way to Heaven, so she can get embarrassed when I complain.

 

My nearby town, Nashville, Indiana, had a Long John Silver’s for years. They closed it because, and this was stated in the paper, they could not get good help.  If their employees were delivering the Mumbai lunches, I would be able to get one delivered here, in America, purely by mistake because their employees did not know where the “special of the week” food was kept in the kitchen or how to prepare it.  Although, I’m not certain how much was the employees fault and how much blame lay with the management.

 

I do know that our country has low standards when it comes to employees because when I did temp work, in Wyoming, I had three different bosses say to me, “If my secretary ever quits, would you come work for me?”  In my head, I was screaming, “Well, fire her, you fool.”  Especially, since I was looking for a job at the time.  One of these secretaries did quit finally and I was called, but I was rehabbing a house in Indiana.  Once, I found two months medical billings in the bottom drawer of the desk of one office. 

 

So, why is it that America cannot have competent help? Yet, Mambai can deliver tens of thousands of lunches correctly.  Could it be that we are people who don’t give a flying fig? Like the shop employees, and owners, in this town who sit on the phone and continue to talk while you stand there with your purchase and cash, in hand.

 

I have no way to wrap this up.  To bring you full circle from where I started. I just do not understand how India can keep it’s values and in America we have people who insist on putting your change  ON TOP OF YOUR BILLS in your hand. What is that about?  Ever try to keep from dropping that change, while holding a bag and getting out of the next guy’s way? You know what is fun?  Let them put the receipt and bills in your hand and then pull your hand back before they get there with the change. Freaks them out. Especially if you just jerk that hand back and put your other hand out. They have no idea what to do. 

 

 

Yup! Real Bright Employees. Maybe it isn’t intelligence.  Maybe it’s just common sense that is lacking.

 

 

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