Although I usually blog about financial topics. Now and then I like to switch it up and get personal. That's the case here - a few observances of the absurdities in modern life. I hope you are amused!
While on vacation recently I stopped at a store to pick up a bottle of wine – we’d been invited to someone’s home for dinner. The young woman at the checkout asked for my driver’s license. I asked why, as I had cash ready in my hand to pay for my purchase. She replied, “You’re buying alcohol. We need to verify your age.” To which I replied, incredulously, and probably a bit too loudly – “Honey – just look at me!” At that point another clerk came over and explained that the store’s policy is to card everyone who is purchasing an alcoholic beverage with no exceptions, and that retaining her job is more important than this particular customer’s experience. How stupid! I’m in my 60’s for goodness sake – there’s no way I could be construed to be a minor, no matter how good I think I look. This is in California, mind you.
I get what’s going on here – their attorneys have told store management that to be immune from a discrimination lawsuit they need to apply their age verification policy uniformly across all customers. So instead of relying upon common sense and customer relationships, store employees default to rules.
Other examples came to mind, which I hope you’ll find amusing, if not infuriating.
In my Publix, at the deli counter, there’s a man working who sports a shaved head. A real cue ball. And what is he wearing? A hairnet. Stupid policy again – all employees working behind the deli counter must wear hairnets with no exceptions. Store management doesn’t even have enough discretion to exempt a hairless person from wearing a hairnet. Makes Publix management look dumb.
I was waiting for my bus home recently at the Dadeland North Metrorail station. I was not wearing a mask. And this is outside. A guard came by and told me to put my mask on. I showed it to him – in my hand, ready to board the bus with mask in place. He explained that the policy is mandatory masks at all transit facilities. This means outside waiting at a bus bay, and on the train platforms, too. Stupid stupid! There is no more healthy place to be than outside breathing fresh air in the Florida sunshine.
Here’s another one. I recently had occasion to update a few of my online profiles. In one of the boxes I had to choose the gender I most identify with. Most identify with! Not the gender I actually AM, but most identify with. Hmm. This is what – Tuesday? Then today I think I’ll identify as a man. Stupid stupid stupid.
One more. I watched a movie on Netflix recently. At the beginning there are the various warnings at the top left of the screen: profanity, brief nudity, smoking. Smoking?? In the same category as nudity?! How utterly stupid. Although states operate their anti-smoking campaigns so young people don’t get hooked, they also raise a whole lot of tax revenue from smoking. Any black-and-white movie from the ‘40s and ‘50s people smoke like chimneys and drink like fish. And this is supposed to be so offensive that I need a warning?! Stupid again.
In each of these cases it looks to me as if we’ve collectively substituted policies & procedures manuals for our common sense. What becomes important is following the rules, not the outcome that the rules were meant to deliver. Yes, I can note with amusement the utter stupidity in each situation. But still – too bad businesses aren't training their employees to use good judgment and discretion in their management, and instead employ the control mechanism of P&P adherence under the guise of "delivering a consistent customer experience". More’s the pity.
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Glenn J. Downing, MBA, CFP®