Outsourcing is fine, but we need some help in keeping things working right here at home.
Today I spend the day running errands, a necessary evil. I broke a fingernail trying to open the wrong side of a double-glass door at a store that is too lazy to unlock both. This is a real danger for left-handed people, and happens quite often. Why is it too hard to unlock both doors? Is it a design problem? Make that second door a window, then. Doesn’t seem that hard.
I took out one of my ubiquitous 3 x 5 cards and wrote “Use other door” and tacked it up with some masking tape.
Doesn’t everyone have 3 x 5 cards and masking tape with them at all times? I find them handy.
Before I grabbed a cart, I found a ladies room and discovered that the auto-flush didn’t. I waved my hand in front of the little window, I pushed the top of various parts of the machine, to no avail. Out came another 3 x 5 card, “Out of Order,” went on the outside stall door.
I went to wash my hands, and the soap dispenser was empty. On second glance, it was full of soap, just not working. I waved my hand in front of the faucet, but only cold water came out. And while I was waving my hands around, I noticed the paper-towel dispenser was not responding either. I watched as other women flailed around, finally wiping their hands on toilet paper or their own clothing. Skipped labeling all of those. The bathroom would look like an Alzheimer’s room. (Reality clip: when my mom had early Alzheimer’s, we had to label common items like “table” with their names, so she would remember them.)
There are some things I can’t resist trying to fix. Customer Service was at the other side of the store. I stood in line, and after waiting in line, I reported the malfunctions to the customer service rep. “They were fine this morning,” he assured me.
“Not working now,” I said, knowing damn well the whole bathroom didn’t quit in the first hour the store was open.
“We don’t have anyone who can verify your claim,” he said.
“Don’t need to, just send someone to fix it,” I suggested.
“You have to fill out a form. You can download it.”
“No, I am actually standing in front of you talking to you which is even better,” I said brightly.
He sighed. “we don’t have a repair kit on the premises,” he said, as if that made it OK.
“I’m not looking to blame you, I’m hoping for a solution,” I said.
“All this automated stuff,” he grumbled, “They install it, but they don’t tell us what to do when it quits working.”
“And that wasn’t a question you’d ask?” I said. “Anything with moving parts is run by some kind of power. Are there batteries? Does it plug in somewhere?”
“I don’t know,” he said, “They didn’t give me any training.”
Finally, an answer I could understand. “It’s a training issue.” No one told you what to do if it broke, because you didn’t ask, and you didn’t ask because you didn’t think it through. Critical thinking isn’t something we teach in school because it takes an amazing amount of time to explain how to think if you have spent all of your life memorizing.
Critical thinking would have suggested that no-downpayment loans were a bad idea. Critical thinking would have questioned houses doubling in value in two years, without a baby-boom to explain it.
Are we ready to do some criticial thinking now, or are we really hoping tax cuts will solve all our problems?
–Quinn McDonald is beginning to wonder who’s minding the store. Or the ATM. She’s a writer and creativity coach who teaches journaling courses and critcal thinking. See her work at QuinnCreative.com (c) All rights reserved. 2009