I remember when I was very small I would go to the shoe store in the mall. The shoe store man new who I was after I went there a few times. He would measure my foot and put shoes on my feet after I picked them out. And in those days that kind of service was expected. It wasn’t considered special treatment. It was also better for the economy as it created more jobs and made people’s live more enjoyable.
In our society now this level of service is all but gone. Now you go to the store, pick out your own shoes, you guess your size if you don’t know it, and carry them up to the register with everything else. Why isn’t there someone to put shoes on your feet? It saves the megacorp the cost of paying that employee. But instead of passing the savings to you, they just increase profit while simultaneously decreasing the quality of your shopping experience.
It’s been this way for so long, that I was only reminded by a recent visit to the Florsheim store in NYC. It seems in the city that everything is more expensive, which is usually true. But the level of service in the city has never changed. People there expect to be able to get someone else to shine their shoes on a moments notice. They expect a barber who will give you a real shave. They expect a door man at a hotel and for people to help carry your bags. They expect a coat check at a party.
Because these things are expected, it must be provided. Otherwise you lose to the competition, ah capitalism. But in the vast majority of the country this expectation of service has been vastly diminished. People don’t expect shit for service, and thus it isn’t received. However, this puts those of us who would enjoy this service, even those of us who would pay a premium, from having the option. Just another example of corporate greed and American apathy degrading the quality of life.
My dad told me about my grandpa’s tailor. Apparently back in the olden days my grandpa had a personal tailor. That man new my grandfather personally. He was just one tailor at a shop of many, but when my grandpa went there that particular tailor was his. Much like a home room teacher in high school. This man wasn’t only friends with my grandfather, but he knew everything about his clothing size by heart. If my grandfather was going to a party and needed a black pair of pants he could just call the tailor and they would hem up a pair of pants that fit perfectly without having to visit the store other than to pick them up. This level of service used to be standard for all people. Now it is something reserved exclusively for the wealthy.
People always complain about the poor distribution of income. How the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. It’s sometimes true. But the real travesty I think is this. More and more enjoyable things in life, quality services, have become exclusive and expensive. It means that the kind of service you got with a middle class income 50 years ago is the kind of service you get with a millionaire income today. If you think about it, it wouldn’t matter so much if someone was richer than you if you both received the same expected quality of service. The problem is that amenities that used to be universal are now exclusive to the wealthy.
Theoretically it can be fixed. If the non-wealthy people demand the higher level of service without any increase in cost, and this demand comes in great numbers that are backed up with capitalist dollar votes, then corporations will be forced to provide these services to stay in business. And a side effect of that will be decreased profits and thus less disparity in the distribution of income. Would you look at that?
I understand this will probably never happen, but its nice to think about. At least I know that I can find places that provide the level of service I desire. But everyone else seems to have stopped caring. When did people stop caring? It’s too vague to be sure exactly when. But I just wish there was some way for everyone to take a nice vacation, rest up, then come back, care about everything and put in maximum effort into fixing it up. Oh well, I’m off to find a burger joint that actually asks how you would like your meat cooked as opposed to the standard fake beef patty.