Do you want your human beings to be predictable commodities?
This morning around 11:30 was the most recent time I heard the pre-scripted speech of a service representative. But I could probably cite a milliion such occurences during any given week. At any rate, I was at Barnes and Noble this morning. In a fit of indulgence I bought another Vonnegut paperback. I go to the checkout counter where a young man, maybe around my age, rung up my purchase. He looked like a cheerful enough person, maybe a former high school football player. And as I prepared to swipe my debit card, he said the words that I already anticipated:
"And do you have a Barnes & Noble card to save?"
The syntax was a bit strange, but I feel like I should quote these things verbatim. Here it sounds like the card is what is getting saved, kept, stored away where I keep all my precious keepsakes. Of course it was shorthand for what we all know already from similar spiels, something more like: "And do you have a Barnes & Nobles card [so that you can save 10% on this purchase, and 5% on future purchases, and receive notification of special offers in the mail?] Or whatever Barnes & Nobles' membership deal is.
It's no fair picking on that one guy. But I encountered him during a phase when I feel very sensitive to the inane things that people are made to do when they are paid to 'serve' and/or extract more money from me. It makes me sad.....They say that we like chain restaurants, hotels, and so on because of their predictability...I lived close to a Holiday Inn in the Yucatan and I have to say, it did look like your fairly standard Holiday Inn. But, you know, you don't have to work out the homogeneity down to the very words the employees say. Let's find yet another way to strip the humanity away from the American worker, eh? It's bad enough that a woman who cut my hair a couple of months ago had trouble blow-drying it because her wrists were so messed up from years of blow drying-- she was scheduled for carpal-tunnel surgery in the near future. But no, it's not enough to injure our labor pool, we have to strip them of their basic freedom to decide what they will say. And the worst is the retail chains with their stupid credit cards or membership cards or whatever. They always ask at Target -- and how many people must go through a Target check-out line each day? How great can their lives be if they're working at Target? But to add to their misery, they have to rattle out some canned line over and over again about the wonders of the Target card. No, I don't want one. And I'm so, so sorry you had to ask.