Archive for Sunday, February 27, 2011

Culture shift

February 27, 2011


To the editor:

Recently I went to a large East 23rd Street gas station with a large drive-through car wash which shall remain nameless. Bought gas, got the car wash code and, as I got in line, an attendant came over and shut it down, telling me “wait a minute.” About 15 minutes later, I was still sitting there, but the row of cars behind me had me locked in. But he smiled, turned it on and gave me a free car wash.

I went back a few days later with another vehicle. The code didn’t work. I went into the store. They were swapping out some electronics, said “wait a bit.” Having learned something, I asked “how long?” I was told “20 minutes or so.” I left.

At another car wash, it wouldn’t read my credit card. The attendant eventually got it to read. Then it wouldn’t give me a receipt, so he wrote one out. (“The printer’s down.”) He was friendly too.

When politicians talk about “the downfall of America” from whatever, think about how much real money that car wash cost the economy (time, gas…). Things have changed in my lifetime. People didn’t used to put up with that or with impossible customer service at an American telephone company or huge cracks in our street that was paved last summer — all summer long. The change in our culture — this sort of thing is now normal — is going to get us.


labmonkey 6 years, 1 month ago

People used to also buy American, even though foreign goods might have been cheaper. We are all to blame.

Bill Getz 6 years ago

There is a world of difference between "protectionist policies" and regulation. During the sixteen years of the Clinton and Bush 43 administrations, the US was committed to free trade and scaled back enforcement of most regulatory laws. The current situation may be quite the opposite of the one you describe.BG

Bill Getz 6 years ago

This is a better . You are restating the old liberal-progressive argument, which had its merits, particularly as regards the preference of big companies for some federal regulation to stifle competition and, by extension, to avoid more stringent regulation by states and courts. . As a conservative on trade and fiscal policies, I hold to the opposite interpretation.

Jimo 6 years ago

That's strange considering progressives favored gov't regulation of business for the purpose of ensuring competition and free enterprise!

And yes, attacking protectionist policies was a hallmark of the progressive movement. In fact, regulation is a neutral tool that may either constrain or open up competition. The distinction is dependent on how much influence commerce has over the regulator which I note in your laissez faire philosophy it has unconstrained power over gov't, and hence the people, and so is condemned to regulatory capture and uncompetitive concentration of power. In 21st century terms, a winner take all society.

Jimo 6 years ago

"No, the progressives favored government regulation for the purpose of creating cartels which are impossible to maintain on the free market."

ROFL No doubt that's why they were called Trust (cartel) Busters!

I can never decide whether you're a crank or a hack. I'm leaning towards crank, as a hack knows what they say is false but says it anyway. Regardless, it's clear you have absolutely no idea whatsoever about this topic - and comically so! People were telling me that you'd pulled a real boner on this one but I didn't have time to check until now. Have you considered hosting a Fox Propaganda program? I hear Huckabee will be giving up his timeslot to run for office.

John Hamm 6 years ago

Baldertrash! The problem is and has been since the 70s American's love of the foreigner to the detriment of their own economy.

Abdu Omar 6 years ago

What about gas prices. Are they real? I doubt it! We have seen oil companies with record profits and we are paying for those profits. It seems we are always padding someone's pocket and getting less value each time. Our country is the greatest on earth, but, our politics is a problem. All the choices made by our congress is filtered throuigh special interests. We need to stop allowing them to dictate our policies. They should not be allowed near our representatives who have lost the reason they were sent to Washington.

BigPrune 6 years ago

...and so it all the carwash.

One pet peeve I can't seem to overcome is people who don't have any patience.

tomatogrower 6 years ago

""due to extreme and intentional understaffing, your wait time is approximately 60 minutes"."

Oh my god, Tom. How dare you suggest they are understaffed! How else will the overpaid executives get their bonuses if they create jobs? How else will all you stockholders make a profit? Shame, Tom. You almost sound anti-corporation. Running a business with little or no parasitic employees is the new capitalism, supported by all you rich people who are making all the money. And then you complain about customer service? Can't have your cake and eat it too, Tom.

melott 6 years ago

Well, at the time I did it, my car had a heavy salt accumulation, and there was some possibility that the snow season was over. Foolish optimism...

You and I both should have just dropped the famous American telephone company with its hellish customer service. I am ashamed that I have not done it. Your "extreme and intentional understaffing" is exactly right. And the phone tree, which leads you in's easy to add a service with the automated system, but practically impossible to drop one.

To kenos--I would only comment that this car is only driven about 3000 miles a year. And I walk to work most of the time. And by keeping the salt off it, I will make it last longer, conserving resources. Not that I need to justify myself to you.

A part of my letter that had to be cut was a story about when I was on a speaking tour of Italy decades ago. Moving around fairly fast--at a long series of hotels no one was able to get laundry done and returned in 36 hours. It just couldn't be done. Now, that kind of mentality has taken root in the United States. And our standard of living will suffer, and maybe with that our democrcy.

kenos 6 years ago

Could this be coming from a famed KU scientist that's pushing global warming, carbon taxes, austerity and population reduction to save the planet? How much CO2 did you generate just waiting to use the warm water to wash your gas-guzzling automobile? A bicycle wouldn't even need washing.

Joe Hyde 6 years ago

My biggest gripe about gas stations isn't caused by something the stations do; instead, it's caused by automakers. So many cars have the gas filler tube located on the right-hand side. This forces the driver to park on the left side of the pump.

The problem is that in almost every other aspect of driving in the United States, all traffic must stay to the right. And all cars used to be made with the filler tube on the vehicle's left side, which conformed to the "stay right" rule.

But beginning in the late 60s or early 70s more and more vehicles were manufactured with their gas filler tube on the right side. This suddenly forced people to drive toward one another at gas pumps, resulting in untold aggravation and uncountable numbers of bumps and fender benders as drivers heading opposite directions were forced to jockey into position to fill their tanks -- whereas before they could simply stay to the right and drive in-line.

It's ridiculous. And whether by a standardization agreement arrived at between automakers, or a law imposed on them at federal level, every vehicle sold in this country should be required to have its gas filler tube located only on the vehicle's left side as a simple means to improve the speed and efficiency of the "pit stops" we drivers have to make. Everyone would benefit, everyone would experience less stress at gas stations if this were done.

Bob Burton 6 years ago


You are wrong!! They should have filler tubes on both sides of the cars so the driver has a choice.. No more waiting for the correct line to the pump..

sr80 6 years ago

Why not just have the filler tube in the center of the roof with the connecting hose running between the back seat passengers and the gas tank (they don't need any room and they will give up smoking if you have a slight leak in the hose) Now wouldn't that solve all the problems!!!! Sometimes i truly amaze myself !!!! Don't you all agree?!?!

Flap Doodle 6 years ago

Complicated like going uptown wearing a black hat?

yourworstnightmare 6 years ago

In Japan, they drive on the left side of the road, yet my Japanese car has its tank filler on the right side.

sr80 6 years ago

This might amaze you YWM,but US model are different than japanese !!! Also i don't think half the people on this blog know what is actually the right & left sides of their vehicle .

LogicMan 6 years ago

To make it clearer, we should all instead use starboard and port?

sr80 6 years ago

Logicman,we cannot compute!!!! we have overload,commence with auto-destruct!!!!!

jafs 6 years ago

I agree that there has been a collective lowering of standards, which is not something that works to our advantage in a variety of ways.

As it happens slowly, people don't notice and protest it, and get used to it as the norm.

And then defend it against criticism, as some have done here.

melott 6 years ago

As far as defending it against criticism, I doubt if those are serious comments. There are some people who entertain themselves by disagreeing with everything. There are others who would disagree with anything posted by someone they perceive as being on the opposite side of the political spectrum. I think that one or the other of these is things is probably going on here.

I think the process probably started in the early 70's, when long lines at the gas station took away the attendant service, and long lines appeared in the post offices. People noticed that they got away with it, and we were off to the races.

sissezz 6 years ago

didnt there used be a car that you could fill from the back , by the trunk?

melott 6 years ago

Yes, some had the filler cap behind the license plate. But I don't remember which cars.

bad_dog 6 years ago

Early Ford Mustangs had filler necks in the back center below the trunk lid and above the bumper. I believe the '55-'57 Chevys had them in the tail fins. I can remember other cars having them behind the license plate but I can't recall any specific makes/models...

sr80 6 years ago

My '71 Plymouth Fury III had one behind the tag, it was a tank that looked like a car !!!!

Mike Hatch 6 years ago

All of my family's Buicks from the late 60s into the early 80s had them behind the license plates.

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