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ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY: Too Young to Know About Service

© Another Day in the Country

So when was the last time that you received actual “service” when you needed it? I can answer that question with gusto.

On Easter weekend, I was heading to Lawrence to get my hair cut and visit with my Fike cousins. Moving right along on the turnpike at 75 mph, I suddenly hit a rough stretch of road and when the road looked smooth again, the car was still acting weird. I realized I had a flat tire.

I pulled off to the side of the road, got out and looked, and just as I suspected, this tire was a goner. Lucky for me I had AAA roadside service. I whipped out my cell phone, called the number on my card, and got an actual person. She was friendly, helpful, “You’re on priority,” she said, “since you are trying to meet an appointment. Someone should be there within 30 minutes.”

Thirty minutes was in my budget, barely. I had at least another 20 minutes of driving time to get there, then I had to find the place and then I remembered we had “Chloe” to guide us there on my smart phone. As traffic whizzed by, the big old trucks literally shaking my car, I watched my rear view mirror for sight of an emergency truck.

Would you believe that within 10 minutes they were pulling up — lucky for me we were on the outskirts of Topeka and not on some county road in the middle of nowhere. The man at the wheel was smiling, efficient, fast, and in 15 minutes, we were back on the road. Now THAT is service!

I used to have AAA in California, but when we moved back here to Kansas we let it lapse. Twenty years ago, a farmer would stop and give us help before any service technician could even start heading in our direction. A few months ago, I reconsidered my stance on roadside assistance and decided that it would be a good idea to have it “just in case.” What a good decision!

Service is hard to find anymore in this era where you pump your own gas and are even encouraged to check out your own groceries. All this technology that we have available screws up the service aspect of almost everything.

We had to buy a new printer at the office. Like cows going to the same stanchion every time, we went to get another HP printer — after all, I’m still using an old HP printer at home that I’ve had for ages.

They don’t come with instruction booklets any more. “Easy to install,” it said on the box, “go online and follow the prompts.” Right.

Jess was so disgusted following instructions, jumping up and down, running from her desk to the printer, touching screens — and on that screen there wasn’t even a button to push. No dial to be turned, no switches, just ethereal impulses coming through the atmosphere (we hoped) to and from a tiny screen, all this to make this thing actually do what we’d bought it for: print!

The printer made funny noises, ground seriously, whirred with a little wheel motif spinning around to assure us something was happening. Hours later it was still spinning, obviously not finished and ready to work. We let it spin all night and the next morning said, “enough is enough! Now we need some service.”

We went online, again, supposedly where service is to be found these days, only to find out after an hour of filling out information, sent hither and yon on the Internet, the HP site was not really HP but an HP Helper. After more key punching and deep sighs, we got a “service rep,” but had to type our responses and read his replies. Another hour went by. We even, hesitantly, gave this person access to our computer to “see what was going on,” and after another hour my sister got fed up and just pulled the plug. “That’s it! I’m done!”

In her search for service, she did find a whole bunch of people online who were just as angry as she was. They had filed complaints, too, after which someone actually called on the phone and tried to help, all to no avail. We’re waiting once again on a call back from yet another person, a supervisor, who perhaps knows about service.

It’s another day in the country and I long for the good old days when smiling attendants said things like “How may I help you?” as you pulled in to get gas. We need more places like the Country Mart in Abilene where there’s a friendly fellow right at the counter to bag up your groceries, “Paper or plastic?” he says and then carries everything out to the car. Great service!

Last modified April 29, 2015

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