Ruminations on Modern Jerk-assitude.

It occurs to me more and more that our current consumer culture is clearly complicit in cultivating copious cornucopias of callous cocks. (Sorry, disregard that.) set up in such a way as to produce a near endless stream of jerks. Don’t agree?

First, we market products through a constant supply of fear and insecurity. Without getting too far out there into the realm of nutjob conspiracy theories and the like (<cough>swineflu</cough>), just watch a series of advertisements, and you’ll begin to see through the veneer of “Buy our product; it’s good, and will bring you happiness.” What becomes apparent is that, beneath a fine sheen of pleasantness and sunshine, there’s an undercurrent of implied necessity and impending ramifications. “You are an inferior human being. Just look at you. If you don’t use our product, you will always be an inferior human being. Your teeth will continue to rot, your hair will all fall out, and the opposite sex will be rightfully repelled by you, as if you bathed in desperation and feces. What would you do without us to lead you down the path of eventual perfection through continual spending?”

If this is one of those Asian massages I've been hearing so much about, I want none of it.

Apparently, drinking Tiger Beer has been shown to cause a 60% increase in panda mega-double-elbow-drops. Studies show that this is, in fact, awesome.

Combined with our near deification of beautiful celebrities which ensures that the average person’s self-esteem and body image is borderline horrible, this is a time-honored and effective tactic, so adept at creating demand that we revert to the intellectual and social equivalent of rabid dogs sharks whenever there’s a sale. “No, we don’t“? Tell that to 34 year old Jdimytai Damour, killed in a stampede of frenzied shoppers at last year’s “Black Friday” sale.

Next, we drill it into the heads of anyone who works in any sales or customer service profession that “The Customer,” with a capital C, “is always right.” If they become upset for whatever reason, they are to be pandered to as though they are the only person on the face of the Earth with your blood type, and you’re in desperate need of a transfusion. If that fails, pass them along to the highest nearby person of authority, so that the process of kowtowing¬† and ass kissing may begin anew. This is a sound practice, on the face of it: if your policies, products, or services have upset someone, make it right. Simple enough.

Also, would you mind putting the bunny back in the box? Thanks.

"Hey... do you still have that whole 'free dessert for raging assholes' program? Outstanding! Give me a moment to get my game face on."

Where this goes wrong is that, by human nature, many of us are just assholes. We don’t seem to be able to help it. Combine these people with a system designed with a built-in loophole to give them better treatment than those who bother to apply outmoded behaviors by displaying things such as “consideration” and “respect,” and you’ve created a reward system for being a dick.

Think about it; when you’re training a puppy, do you reward them for pissing on the rug? Attacking family members (for those of you who would get (or have gotten) a dog for the express purpose of attacking family members, pretend I said “friends” there)? Leaving a steaming pile of “good morning!” in your shoes? Well, that’s exactly what stores, restaurants, and businesses in general are doing for us, the consumption-mad public.

We leave our homes, rush out to get whatever item we currently think will make us less hideous or depressed, and when we get to where we’re going, we learn that if we just go ahead and vent some of that negativity that’s been building up inside of us (maybe because we spend all our time at work so we can make money, most of which we spend in the pursuit of forgetting about all the time we spend at work… but I digress), we can be given a discount and ridiculously deferential treatment.

Many businesses have signs that say “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.” How many times have you seen that happen? How many business owners/managers have you seen step up and say, “If that’s how you’re going to treat my staff, we don’t want your business. Please leave,” or something along those lines? Now, how many times have you witnessed someone being an insufferable ass to a waiter, salesman, checker, or other member of the service industry*?

I’m not saying that our whole system should be discarded, or anything so extreme. My point, if there is one, is simply that this is just another case of how almost every system works perfectly until people get involved, and that being a complete shithead to total strangers for a free dessert or 10% discount isn’t really worth it. If you’re of the opinion that it is, then as a reward, I’ve got a great new bath accessory for you. It looks a whole lot like an ordinary toaster, but if you plug it in and place it underwater while you’re in the tub, it exfoliates your skin better than any other product on the market.

*That whole paragraph excludes bars. I’ve spent enough time waiting tables and tending bar to know that many bartenders have a notoriously low bullshit tolerance, and will not hesitate to bounce your drunk ass to the curb if you’re anything bordering on rude. Or ignore you the rest of the night, while happily serving everyone else. Or just overcharge you. Or switch your mixed drinks to their “virgin” equivalents, with a minuscule amount of liquor poured down the straw, so it tastes strong. Or pour you a complimentary “mat shot.” (Ask a bartender. Or google it. You are on the internet right now, you know.) Or include a tiny amount of Visine or dish soap in your next round, which induces an effect akin to Montezuma’s Revenge. Or worse, as evidenced by any number of the websites out there devoted to allowing people in the service industry to vent and share their horror stories. Seriously, have people still not figured out that it’s not even a little bit intelligent to intentionally piss off the people that handle their food, drinks, driver’s licenses and credit cards? Really?

"Dude, why is there a chicken strip sticking out of your pants?"

"See the people at table 406? Heh. Wait for it. Waaaaait forrr it... Hey, don't give me that look, I know what you did to that clam chowder last month. Now, wait five minutes, then put the out of order sign on the bathroom door. This is gonna be awesome!"

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~ by tazehim on April 30, 2009.

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