Daily Archives: January 2, 2015

and about those banks

Well , I’m on the topic of in-store customs and one of my readers commented about banks . You know , I thought it might be just our banks in southern Cal.   ; never considered that this is possibly a widespread phenomenon . Maybe , could it be world-wide ?  The comment came from the other side of the country , from somewhere deep in the cultured wilds of Connecticut , from the Patriot-trailed lands of the American Revolution , The Deerslayer , and Constitution signers .   George Washington , perhaps , slept there . George never slept in California , from where I am writing this particular jeremiad . George would have liked it here , I think  . Then .J P Morgan
To enhance the in-bank experience , tellers chat customers up nowadays . Maybe you don’t visit banks much and aren’t aware of this relatively recent technique . Would you say , perhaps : Business strategy ?  The tellers tend to be young , well groomed men and women . Enthusiastic smiles  shine from their attentive faces .   ” So , what are you doing today , Mr. Hennessy ? ” , they might ask . ” Got any plans for the evening ? ”

art man statue

They’re good at it , too , I have to admit . Unsuspecting bank customers might mistake the nosey inquisitive teller for a life-long friend . ” What’re you doing for the weekend , Mr. Hennessy ? Going to any parties ? No ? Staying home , then , Mr. Hennessy ? ”   Always the Mr. Hennessy , too . Maybe , if by chance I have forgotten my name , I’d have it in my head by the time I exit the bank branch . ” Okay . Have a great day , Mr. Hennessy . Anything else I can possibly do for you today , Mr. Hennessy ? ”

Yes , buddy :  please lose the professional smile and for heaven’s sake stop the counterfeit chatter . It doesn’t fit with what I would  expect a bank’s image to be . It doesn’t make me want to come in again . I don’t crave the companionship so desperately . I know you’re just doing what you were told to do . I’m not really blaming you . But , you should reflect on whether or not ……………………..

I listen to bank customers spew out personal information as if they were talking to a fast friend , as if no one else was around to listen . ” So , what time will you be out of the house tonight Mrs. ………….?      Sorry , Mr. …………. , could you repeat that ? And , just to confirm , Mr. ………….. ,  you do hide your jewels in the freezer ? Thanks , Mr. Hennessy , Swartz, Pelgam, Lee , Reichdotter  , Spewmouth , etc. ………….Is there anything else I can do for you today……….  ”

I don’t think banks , or their employees , are my best friends . A smile is good ; a kind word is good . Sincerity is good , though , too . The bank will still try to fee me into the poor house no matter what , will still hide the good stuff way down on the bottom of the fourth page in super-fine print .

I went into a bank a couple of weeks ago that advertised a great introductory interest rate . Ada found the ad and asked me to check it out . I read the ad’s fine print . Had to get my good glasses to do it . Read it twice to be sure . A third time , just to be doubly certain .pirate caricature

There was some fishy stuff in that fine print . I asked the bank representative how the deal works with the great introductory rate . He was one of those who sit at a desk ; he was not a mere teller , and he explained the deal ; but he  left out the fishy catch mentioned in the fine fine print at the bottom . About this point in time, as I sat there ,  I realized that this bank was not my bag , not my thing , this guy is not my  buddy-buddy , despite his expensive suit and his smooth chatter . Lies by omission .

I asked him about the fine fine print information . If you don’t do six summersaults and recite a sonnet while riding a bank-approved unicycle on the last Tuesday or Thursday of the month ,  after six months you loose the promised cash  bonus ;  and thus , all of your wonderful gains go swiftly and silently back to the bank . Imagine that !  The bank officer reluctantly admitted that this little secret bomb inserted deviously into the deal was probably the case and would no doubt happen . He seemed a bit confused , though .  He acted as if there was  some ambiguity in the agreement , as if no one was quite sure if the wonderful advertised bonus would go back to the bank or not , as if he himself had not read the fine fine print .

” I can read ,” I said to him with a little impromptu phony smile borrowed momentarily from one of the tellers as he sat there in his fine grey bank suit and his bank officer smile at his neat bank desk out there on the bank branch floor . The desks  sit out there in the open to pretend , I assume , that the bank has nothing to hide . Hiding in plain sight — I think that’s the expression . Banks . Banks love you(r money ) .

I won’t tell you what bank it was that offered this sleight-of-hand deal . It was a small local branch of one of the big bully  ones who did all they could to help ruin the economy a few years ago only to be  bailed out later by taxpayers even as the bank officers got  healthy bonuses  ( and flew to Washington in corporate jets to plead for bailout money )  , presumably for doing such a fine job ripping off the public while enriching themselves .

” Okay , calm down Mr. Hennessy . Is there anything else I could possibly  do for you today ,  Mr. Hennessy ? ”

 

 

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be my guest

caricature man     I suppose that it doesn’t , in the overall scheme of things , make much difference , but there’s something that bothers me when I go into shops these days . I’m not a great lover of shopping so I avoid the problem most of the time ;   don’t do daily shopping or anything like that . And grocery stores , where I can be found more often  , don’t yet do it .

” Next guest ! “carosel figure

We ordinary  store customers , as it happens , have been switched at some point from run-of-the-mill ,   customers to ” guests ” .  It used to be : The Customer is Always Right . But , I have to assume , that ain’t the case no more . There are no more customers who might be right . We are now “guests” who , for some unknown reason , have been invited into the shop .  I never remember getting the invitation. Was it in writing ?  A memo should have come out , I think , announcing the change , but  I didn’t get the memo .

Sorry , Proprietor , but I don’t want to be a guest in your shop . A guest is obligated to be a little bit on special behavior . Should I have brought flowers ? Would it be proper etiquette to send a thank you letter later ? Is there a manual with rules of conduct ? If there is , I’d like to see it . Just for curiosity .

What I hate , also , are the clerks who shout at me when I enter a store . Sometimes I can even decipher the words : ” WELCOME TO…………. ! ”  It’s a greeting . It sounds like a Banzai charge battle yell ; but , it’s a greeting . The clerk , who is inevitably dealing with another customer  guest at that moment in time , is not , as I at first thought , having a sudden violent stoke , calling out for help , and ready to expire .   It simply sounds like that . That’s all .  Or something .Airport too many bags

Where do these businesses pick up this brilliant stuff !  Somebody at some business conference somewhere , perhaps in Maui , perhaps after a few too many Mai Tais , suggested that store clerks screech a greeting at unsuspecting people as they enter the stores , and that these poor suckers should be called guests . That should make them feel right at home —— well , at someone else’s home . Except that it could be like that dinner party you really don’t want to go to ; when you won’t know anyone there anyway ; when  you realize your mistake excruciatingly  as soon as you get there  but by now it’s too late .

Oh , perhaps I exaggerate . Ever-body else seems to accept it all in stride . Ain’t no big deal .

I bought a Saturn once a long time ago . A friend of mine recommended the Saturn , so the second year they were building them I bought one . Glad I did , overall . It was a good car . No haggling with salespeople when I made the deal . No : ” I’ll have to check with the sales manager . Be right back , ”   routine  from a  lame-brained sales person . When I was ready to drive off in my new car , happy as a clam , the sales staff surrounded my wife and I and shouted :  ” Banzai !  Banzai ! “Br. Lib leap frogs

Well , maybe it wasn’t Banzai . Seems to me it was something else Japanese ; but I can only now logically assume that it was actually in good ol’ lingo Americano . What it was exactly I don’t now remember . Japanese businesses at the time used that sort of motivator . Japan’s economy was great then and American businesses seemed to think that they could imitate the Japanese and do just as well . Yeah , even to the extent of yelling at the  customer   guest  in some misplacement of Japanese shouting custom . Aren’t we all happy and motivated now ! Banzai !

Once upon a time some Japanese restaurants were the only places I might have been exposed to this sudden shout upon entering . No more .

American businesses have been   “rolling out” this strange stuff for years , under our unsuspecting noses . The school district picked some of it up , too . My school was ‘rolling out’ programs but nothing ever seemed to happen , except more meetings . I once asked the guy in charge of the meeting what ” roll-out” meant . Does it mean   “institute” or “initiate” , and if it does , could we use that word instead ?   He said , no , roll-out doesn’t mean initiate . Then it got good . He referred the question to the Assistant Principal and the two of them tried to roll out an adequate reply over the next ten minutes or so . They couldn’t come up with anything precise or concise or even anything sensible . ” We have to go on with the meeting , ” the annoyed AP eventually declared . And , they did . They’re probably over there  still rolling out desperately vital programs , albeit ethereal and incarnate imitations of business models in the sky ,  though they be .weird man

So , getting back to my story , if you’re my guest , I might likely give you stuff . Want a beer ?  Tea ?  Most of these  ” Will the next guest …” places don’t seem to be handing out little goodies to anyone . Hows about a beer as I look over the loot on your shelves ?  Trader Joe  offers free coffee and a taste of something or other — whatever they are promoting that day . World Market has coffee . It’s a little hard to find ; but , it’s there . The Toyota place also has coffee ; hot chocolate , too . But , most shops just yell at you .

Let’s do this :

Guests will shout back a scripted response when shouted at by greeting clerks . Clerks will then shout a scripted question : What would you like ?  eg. A beer or glass of wine ? eg #2.   A sandwich ? Bon bon ?  Clerks are to be referred to as  ” hosts” .  Guests should alternately be hosts on following occasions . Everything should be put into writing : invitations , etiquette rules , thank yous . When  a guest buys some item , the hosts  should all assemble around and shout something  . Doesn’t matter what ; but it should be sharp and loud . A couple of times a year , at least , business owners and the boards-of-directors should be surrounded by both guests and hosts , a huge hoard of hosts and guests  , to be shouted at .  I may get a committee together to plan the roll-out of this brilliant idea . First , though , we should have some meetings . We could shout everything so people feel at ease and right at home . Or not .cropped-deco-bar.jpg

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