We’ve Got it All Wrong…

laba.ws_USA_Independence_DaySomething has been bugging the hell out of me lately.  I don’t know how exactly to explain it, but I’ll do my best.

I feel like we as Americans have it all wrong.  It appears as if the driving force behind everything is money.  Unfortunately as individuals there is nothing we can do about it.  The prices of what we need goes up and we need to make more money to live.  But here is the problem in my eyes…

Small-time business, people, entrepreneurs, etc. get run out of business because it becomes uneconomical to run.  The big guys run them out because people need to get the goods and services at a lower price than what the little person can offer.  We trade quality for cost (not necessarily quantity).  It isn’t always that we want to, but it is a matter of we have to.  Take for instance telephone service, there was a time when there were small, local companies that you dealt with.  There are a few around still, but not many.  You called for assistance and you got a PERSON.  There was a chance you may even know that person on the other end – that was where the worked.  But nowadays, you call and get a recording, a voice response unit, that you have to argue with before you get a human being.  Furthermore, you are lucky if you get a person that you are able to understand.  Now, let me make one thing clear with that remark.  I am by no means racist, prejudice or anything of the sort; I am simply stating that more often than not, the person you get on the other end has a hard accent or dialect to understand.  Which opens up another can of worms, we’ve become so dependent on money and think so highly of ourselves that I would be willing to bet the vast majority of us would not want that job of the person on the other end.  [Enter Ashton Kutcher’s Teen Choice Award speech where he discusses jobs, HERE]

We rely less on good-nature, kindness, generosity, etc. and more on the least costly option.  It’s unfortunate because so many people, myself included, feel as though that is the only option.  Sure, there are times where supporting the ‘locals’ or the ‘smalltimers’ is an option, and a great one, but a lot of times, it isn’t.  Here’s another example, the small-town appliance dealers.  You have these people who know their products in and out.  They can tell you from memory how many cubic feet that Maytag refrigerator is without looking at the sticker.  You get a knowledgeable person, not a person that Home Depot or Lowe’s has hired at minimal wage to sell you that product and ‘help’ you.  Granted, there are some folks in those departments who care enough to learn about what they are selling, but I’m telling you, it isn’t the same.  But those big stores are running the small ones out of town, simply because of money – buying power.  You aren’t going to call “John” from Home Depot and ask him to come fix the ice maker water line on that fridge because he doesn’t know, you’re going to either call the manufacturer or, if you have one nearby, a repairman who can hopefully fix it for you.  When we ‘go big box’ we’re solely buying product, nothing more, nothing less.  When we ‘go small time’ we get product, personality, service and gratitude that you are still supporting them.  If I go to my local hardware store and explain where my kitchen sink is dripping and the problem, the person is going to walk with me to the appropriate aisle (not just tell me an aisle number) and help me find a solution.

Here’s another good one that just chaps my ass.  I was in the emergency room not too long ago, I had to have 3 stitches, nothing big, whatever.  So the nurse gets the suture kit out and in it are probably 5 or 6 medical pliers a couple pairs of tweezers and misc. other stuff for the process which doesn’t matter.  They finish the pathetic 3 stitches in less than 5 minutes.  The nurse then turns to me and asks if I would like to take the tools and remaining gauze home with me.  I asked why.  She tells me that they are disposable, they will just throw them out otherwise.  ARE YOU BLOODY KIDDING ME?!  There are countries, communities, etc., that have a rusty needle-nose pliers to do stitches and fix a leaky sink with and here only 1 of the 6 pliers were used and they are just going to throw them out?!  Of course I took them, I can use them for something instead of just create more trash.  Disgusted, I then look to see that they are made by Cardinal Health and made in Pakistan.  So, basically, like many things, the manufacturing process that we pay for whether with or without insurance of these tools for our medical well-being is farmed out to the lowest bidder.  Of course we disregard where these things are made, we just want them cheap.

Personally, I would rather pay a small premium or barter or trade to deal with a person locally, no matter what the good or service.  Why, what’s the difference?  Because folks, if I, for example, book a trip off of Expedia or whatever your travel site of choice is, some corporate asshole is padding his pockets and paying the people behind the scenes pennies on the dollar to produce, support, work, etc. for him (or her) to make it happen.  HOWEVER, if I book that SAME trip through a local travel agent, chances are, I can get the same price, maybe better (because we are tricked into thinking that those sites can always get the best deal for you because they have advertising budgets beyond belief), and have the convenience of dealing with someone direct, the confidence that you have been able to physically see your transaction take place and someone to go to directly for help, where your happiness depends on their success and their ability to put food on the table for their family.  Just another example of a service that is slowly fading away due to technology and progress?  But, can you truly call it progress when you think about it?

All I’m saying folks, is before you jump on the newest, fanciest baby monitor for your newborn, really, seriously think about it.  Before you buy your new kitchen cabinets at the big box store that they charge above the purchase price for ‘professional installation’ (again to the lowest bidder), maybe pull out the old yellow pages and see if there is a guy or gal that does custom carpentry, you may be surprised what your outcome will be…

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