Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Maybe It's Their Way of Encouraging People to Use the ATM?

My daughter says that I'm a cynic. The other day I was talking to her and happened to mention how I thought that the routine exchange of pleasantries with those we come into contact with when carrying out our daily business was starting to get out of hand.

Take a recent trip to the bank for example. I walk up to the teller and the teller says, "Good morning, how are you today?" I respond, "I'm fine thanks, how are you?" To which the teller responds, "I'm fine. Thank you for asking." Actually, I'm thinking to myself, you're the one who asked. I was just being polite.

A little further into our transaction the teller asks, "How's your day going so far?" I respond, "So far, so good, but it's only 9am, there's still a lot of time for things to go wrong." Undaunted, the teller asks, "So, do you have any plans for this weekend?" I'm thinking to myself, "Is he going to ask me out on a date?" I quickly realize, to my relief, he's not. And then a number of responses pop into my mind, such as, "That's on a need-to-know basis," or, "I don't really see how that's any of your business!" Nevertheless, I'm able to suppress the smart aleck within me and reply, "No, nothing in particular."

Before you accuse me of being a curmudgeon, as my daughter quickly did, I would add that I don't think I'd be put off by this small talk if it were actually sincere, but it is so prevalent (it's hardly confined to the bank) and so scripted, you know it's being offered up solely because some "customer service" guru told the people on the front lines who are greeting customers that this is what they have to say. Bill Nighy, the British actor, once observed that the secret to being a good actor is to deliver your line as if the thought just occurred to you. Perhaps we ought to chip in and buy these bank tellers some acting lessons.

I'm all for being pleasant and engaging in small talk, but let's not overdo it.

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Following up on my post from last week about the News-Press reporting that a majority of its newsroom employees have signed a petition asking the the Graphic Communications Conference of the Teamsters union be decertified as the employees bargaining unit, the Union has indeed challenged that petition.

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Good article that appeared over the weekend in the LA Times about Santa Barbara's best county park, Jalama Beach. Kind of wish though that the author of the article @SusanSpano1, would move back to Paris. She does such a good job of describing the virtues of Jalama, the place is bound to be overrun with tourists from L.A., otherwise known as El Aliens.