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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.

Dhiman said...

One who praises everything, praises nothing . Similarly I feel, one who greets and says the same thing to everyone, does not really mean it.

I think you are looking at extreme cases -- too much good mannerism in mechanised US and absence of that in Mumbai. I feel it should be something in between but where to draw the thin line.

I usually don't like to greet people in such a mechanical society saying "How are you ?" Because I know the answer, "I am good". I like people who tend to be natural and I appreciate natural behavior or creative replies more than artificial good manners.

One fine morning in Pittsburg, my friend and I were passing by a cop and on asking him "how are you ?". He replied, "reasonable enough" and it amused us a lot. Once someone asked me, "So buddy, how is your struggle going ?". May be we don't like everything too predicatable and we look for a change.

But I guess, at the end we get used to what we have seen for long and to what we have learnt from young age. May be what seems artificial and exeggerated mannerism in US is perfectly natural to them.

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...