"Our species needs, and deserves, a citizenry with minds wide awake and a basic understanding of how the world works."
Saturday, October 13, 2012
In the Land of Enforced Niceness
"Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires"
The grocery store closest to my house is one of those national chains that likes to portray itself as something slightly above the common riff-raft who might shop at a more plebeian place such as Sam’s Club. Prices are somewhat higher at this store and there is a wider choice of upper-end items freely using the word “gourmet” on the label, which I rather like on some occasions. The main reason I stop there is its location being three minutes from my house. This is especially important whenever my wife discovers she is missing some vital ingredient to her latest culinary endeavor and I am forced at near gunpoint to go purchase the item with instructions to get there and back as fast as possible ignoring all traffic laws and safety concerns for my fellow humans along the way.
This grocery store does have one huge drawback in my eyes. Since it caters to the upwardly mobile and arrogant yuppies living in the surrounding pod-like subdivisions, it enforces a strict friendliness policy on its employees. You cannot walk through the huge sliding glass doors of the place without being assaulted with a chorus of greetings by overeager employees. Those unfamiliar with this particular supermarket chain might think I am exaggerating but these greetings are far from casual or genuine displays of sociability.
Every employee seems desperate to make and keep eye contact and be ready to fulfill the customer’s every desire all the while maintaining a huge perpetual smile that frankly would have sent my facial muscles into painful spasms. Some might call this old fashioned “customer service” and I will admit in most other stores there is at best a fifty-fifty chance of getting any help from those working there.
At this specific grocery store I have walked up and surprised some stock clerk several times as he or she were doing their job forcing them into asking for forgiveness for not seeing me and then almost groveling at my feet in a desire to help me to make up for their inattention. Given this, I have to wonder if some corporate suit has a job to do surprise inspections and enforce friendliness among the workers. Even worse than some KGB-like corporate enforcer are the weaselly low-level supervisors that enjoy welding power over those under them.
Case in point was Friday morning when I decided to hit the grocery store on the way home instead of waiting sometime later when it would be far more crowded. My self-imposed mission was to pick up the needed deli meats and other items we would use for lunch over the weekend. I find shopping a horrendous chore and I utterly despise going to any grocery or department store during the times it is full of self-absorbed yuppies who all believe they are the center of the universe. So I usually hit such places right when they are opening or late at night.
Entering the store yesterday, I only heard one poor soul forced to yell out the ubiquitous “good morning” and proceeded straight to the deli counter. The store was nearly empty except, unfortunately, for the deli counter. There was already a small line being serviced by one lone employee. Figuring I could avoid that line I went around picking up the other items I needed. When I returned to the deli counter, there was only one customer left, a woman dressed in what I would call a high class business suit.
As I approached closer, I could hear the business woman complaining about the thickness of the meat on one of the huge deli platters she was stacking in her shopping cart. Given her attire and the platters, it was easy to assume she had some sort of affair or party in her near future. On the other side of the deli counter was an employee doing her best to explain company policy and standard preparation on preordered items. From what I could hear, the deli worker sounded reasonable and more importantly very professional on how the platters were done.
The business woman, of course, would have nothing of it. Business woman wanted everything her way and would complain all the way to the corporate headquarters to see it happen. To throw more fuel on her irate fire business woman made sure both the counter person and her immediate supervisor, now standing behind his worker, would lose their jobs in the process.
Had the immediate supervisor just metaphorically patted the obnoxious customer on the hand and then worked to some compromise I would say things would have been kosher but weasel dude turned and verbally chewed out his worker. The look of shock on the deli worker was so extreme I thought she would strip off her apron and tell her boss to go do something reproductively impossible to himself.
Instead, she took a deep breath, looked back at the customer, and began to grovel to make her happy. When the deli worker left to go off into the room behind the counter weasel boss stepped forward to apologize and say how he would make sure things were corrected. Weasel supervisor dude kissed the butt of that woman so much he might as well have crawled inside and examined her large intestine.
It was then that I decided to skip the deli meat at that moment. I moseyed over to the checkout and paid for the items in my shopping cart and went home. I would like to think that the deli worker would have some recourse to correct what was to me an obvious injustice but good old South Carolina is a “right to work” state meaning a worker can be fired at any moment by their employer. Unless that lady was just working for extra money while her husband or boyfriend's job paid all the bills she had no choice but suck it up and make do. In the old days a union would have evened the scales out between a low-paid worker like her and her weasel boss but in this new "service based" economy that took the place of American manufacturing that deli worker can easily be replaced by any number of other people willing to work that job for far less. Making matter worse, unionism is looked down upon by the very workers such protection might help in the form of better pay and working conditions.
It is extremely funny to me to hear some ignorant yahoo complain about how his or her pay and benefits suck while the rich continue to amass more wealth. But the rank and file workers here have largely been trained to recoil in terror at the very mention of unionism associating it with such "anti-American ideas" like “socialism.” What we are left with in many cases is an enforced niceness as income and social mobility for the middle and working classes fall and the hope for a better future for their children evaporate.
God bless America and unrestrained free market capitalism.
You are a Working Class Warrior, also known as a blue-collar Democrat. You believe that the little guy is getting screwed by conservative greed-mongers and corporate criminals, and you’re not going to take it anymore.