Deus Ex Machina, Alternative Forms of Entertainment, and What Customer Service?

I have seen some very screwy dealership and car lot names in my life, but who came up with Blue Knob? Are they trying to attract ED and/or frostbite sufferers?  It just doesn’t invoke a feel-good message to me, and I’m a chick.

Maybe I’m just easily entertained.  One of the things that I used to like to do as a kid was to watch the train cars as they would go by.  One of the realities of my childhood, living in a town criss-crossed by several railroad lines, was that you had to wait on trains.  Today, on the rare occasion one does have to wait on a train, there’s not much to see besides endless coal cars and tankers full of chemicals or vegetable oil, but back in the day a lot of interesting things were shipped by rail. 

Cars are still shipped by rail, but today, because of vandals, the train cars are covered so you can’t see the cars inside.  One used to be able to clearly view the cars as they went by.  You could try to identify the models being transported which was always interesting, at least to me.  Heavy equipment was also shipped by rail, and that was interesting to watch too- excavators, road graters, bulldozers and so forth, tied down to flat cars, going to who knows where. 

If I didn’t have anything better to do and I lived in the vicinity, I would love to watch ships being unloaded, but the only port in Columbus is the airport. While it is interesting to watch the planes take off and land, the parking garage isn’t cheap, and I always worry that someone might think we are some kind of weird stalkers for just hanging out to watch the planes.  I keep thinking about the incident the last time we went to Niagara Falls (2004.)   Getting in to Canada was no problem (this is before passports were required) but getting back in to the States was not quite so easy.  As we were going back to the States from Niagara Falls (in Jerry’s 99 Tacoma with Ohio plates…) the border crossing official asked me where we had been, how long we had been in Canada, and to where we were heading back.  I gave her the applicable information and both of our drivers’ licenses.  Then she looked over at Jerry with a serious case of stink-eye, and said, “I need to hear you talk.” 

Fortunately the only language Jerry knows is English, complete with the Central Ohio Newscaster Accent.  Therefore it wasn’t really possible for him to be a wise-ass like I know Steve-o would be.  If  Steve-o were asked his national origin, he would probably make it a point to  cuss them out in German just to be arbitrary, but Jerry does not have that ability, thankfully.   He informs her that yes, his name really is Jerry, and he really is going back to beautiful Central Ohio.   Then she laughs a bit nervously, and tells us that she thought he may be of Middle Eastern descent, and that they were supposed to watch out for illegal immigrants from the Middle East trying to get into the States from Canada.  Steve-o, with his rather pale complexion and mousy brown hair, probably would not have been questioned.  Personally, I can understand the reasons behind racial profiling, even if I can tell the difference between someone from the Middle East and a Native American.  After 9/11, better safe than sorry.  If I were airport security, and I saw Jerry from a distance watching planes from the top of the parking garage, I would be pretty wary too.  How am I supposed to know he’s not a Middle Eastern terrorist, but a redneck whose family are mostly Cherokees from West Virginia, and who has lived in Central Ohio his whole life? 

I am still waiting on the Cougar Pool.  I know, I just ordered it Monday, but it’s starting to get hot around here.  The season of Stygian Heat is right around the corner, and I want to be floating about in the Cougar Pool, drinking iced tea and chilling in it soon.  Jerry is going to Lancaster tomorrow night, so I have my fingers crossed that I might be lucky enough to get it today or tomorrow so I can set it up Saturday. 

Last night I got my flowers and mulch for the front flower beds.  I got a flat each of petunias and impatiens, and they look quite lovely around the rose bushes.  I can’t say I was impressed with the experience of buying these items though.  Now I know why I avoid home improvement stores, which I will be polite enough not to name.  I found the flower flats I wanted, after wandering about a bit.  That wasn’t so bad, but when I went to check out, first of all there was only one lane open and about four people ahead of me in line.  Then that guy suddenly decides it’s time to go on break, so another guy comes up.  I had not been able to find the mulch, so when it was finally my turn to check out, I ask the guy.  He sells me (unbeknownst to me at the time) the absolutely most expensive black mulch they have, then tells me to pull around to the side of the building for another guy to load me up. 

What he forgets to tell me is there are about nine people ahead of me waiting for this one guy to load them up first.  I did not have time for that, and when I pulled around to the side I could see where the mulch was stacked, and how much it cost.   Sooooo, I find the item number on my receipt, get my happy hiney out of the car, and load up the two very expensive bags of mulch that I just paid for.  The saddest part about this is that nobody noticed.  I could have loaded up fourteen bags, if they would have fit in the trunk of my Yaris, and I still bet no one would have noticed.

I have no problem with a couple of forty pound bags of mulch, but come on, people.  I was honest about it.  I got two of the exact item number I ordered and paid for, and if I’d been asked for my receipt they would have been able to see that- but how many people have ripped them off?

There comes a point in time when businesses are going to experience an economic fact, which is the law of diminishing returns. One person can only do so much, and you are going to lose business if you try to spread one person too thin.  There is a point of balance where you have exactly the right number of people and resources to serve your customers and be profitable.  It’s my sneaking suspicion that too many businesses are trying to empty the ocean with a teaspoon, and it’s affecting their bottom line. 

Apparently, the ghost in the machine is supposed to do it somehow.  Literally translated, deus ex machina, means “god in the machine,” and it refers to a literary mechanism in which the protagonist in a play is magically scooped up out of impossible circumstances to win the day.  Film makers still use it today in action flicks.  We all know in the world of the action flick, nothing is going to happen to the good guy that doesn’t work out in the end.  The problem is, in real life it’s not so simple.  The eleventh-hour save is not always a given, and not every old bitty is going to just go ahead and get her own mulch!

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