My ebook: Journeys with the caterpillar

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Journeys with the caterpillar: Travelling through the islands of Flores
and Sumba, Indonesia
" is available at
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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Will good manners get commoditized?

I was at the Pizza Hut at Mountain View this weekend, and the cute Chinese lady at the counter greeted me with her charming voice "How can I help you?" and after I had given my request "Is there anything else you would like today?" While I was having my Pizza, lots of customers came by and she greeted everyone with the same trained mechanical jingle. After hearing it a couple of times I got really irritated. And then I started to wonder..If any shopkeeper greeted me this way in Mumbai (probably the friendliest city in India), I would have been really happy, So why was I getting irritated now?

Is this what happens after an environment has reached a certain stage of consumerism - that basic good manners are taken for granted and not given any special value. Does the voice from an IVR machine become as warm or cold as that of a real person? Does a smile become a scorn depending on which side of the face you are looking at? Does "How was your weekend" and "How do you do" become as mechanical as a phone-dialing action to begin an objective conversation? Do I see the store guy at the counter or do I only see the black bar separating my groceries from the person ahead of me before the altar-the bar code reader?

<>Too much of balderdash, please to vote on the left side of this post....(:-)


Jayesh said...

One can easily distinguish between the plastic face of mechanized customer service done by corporations and the elastic smile of a kirana store in Mumbai keen to do business.

Shivaji said...

@ Jayesh...
thats a great concept...yes the plastic smile of corporations doesnt change much irrespective of whether you thrash them or give them a 10000Rs business...