Tue - March 1, 2005

We Don't Write Letters Anymore but the Salesmen Do

No we don't. A regular, handwritten missive in pen or pencil on stationary, with sheets folded and sent in the snail-mail -- it's a dying art. Whenever I actually get one from friend or family (once every 3 years) I'm bowled over. But there is one community in America that is striving to keep the handwritten note alive and kicking, and that would be our greater Sales Force, whatever the price point. In a disquieting development that started 5 years ago at the crest of the dotcom boom, borrowing up from the biz-etiquette of the much larger margin world of houses and cars, suddenly every floorwalker in hardware and small appliances was writing Mr and Mrs a Thank You and Come Again card in their own hand, for everything from just talking to them to actually buying something. You can understand the unctuous requirement for a good licking up when a realtor's prospective 6 grand house handling fee is involved, or the end-of-month steak knives bonus/you're-fired urgency of the young guy at the dealership, but c'mon, a $29 trashcan? Has the average hourly rate of a salesperson fallen so low that it's worth their time to make them write out these personals for every little thing, or is it all just a busywork mandate of some underworked back-office MBA with a slidedeck of best practices nonzense and Nordstrom-envy? Whatever it is, when I receive one of these I feel 3 things: sympathy for the salesperson who had to get it out during their lunch hour or after work; no desire whatsoever to immediately jump in the car and go to the store; and, finally, a slightly guilty feeling that I ought to pick up a pen and write someone I know a real letter. Ka-ching? Don't think so.

Posted at 07:09 PM     Read More   |

Wed - February 23, 2005

Baby You Can't Drive My Car

My wife says I'm a bad driver, and she may be right. After all, I've had about 3 small accidents in 20 years to her one in 35 years. And for some reason, although I'm quite aggressive driving by myself, when she's in the car I always hug the right lane or inevitably get behind a slow moving car or truck, eliciting a wry "Jack, Jack, Jack" from the passenger seat. Whereas if I'm the cargo, she's lead-footing it like a madman all over town.

But none of my moves compare to two that happened to me recently: a car, in six lanes of traffic, stops dead in the leftmost non-turn lane in an intersection and puts its left turn light on, causing much hubbub - they lasted 20 seconds before backing down and driving straight ahead. Then today, whistling back to work from lunch at home, I almost ran into a woman in an SUV sitting on the curb on the opposite direction: she starts her car, puts her head down, looks behind her, ignoring me and pulls a rapid u-ee directly in front of my oncoming car, completing blocking the street. I could have killed her.

I blame the SUV .

Posted at 10:40 PM     Read More   |