Thanks for the Tweets


100 years ago America would have been entering World War 1 after what historians termed the “Quiet Time” as most of Theodore Roosevelt’s and Taft’s terms were without the chaos and conflict we’ve come to expect on our nightly news these days. While that century started out quietly as it climbed toward war, I’m still at a loss for what exactly this century is. We began with 9/11 and have only increased our fear and disillusionment as demagogues and oily politicians attempt to apply simple answers to complex questions.

One thing I do know, is there are many things in our culture we have come to accept as normal that are actually quite abnormal. My latest edition in this complex world of bullshit came over dinner two weeks ago. We needed to get out of the house for an hour, so my wife and I drove the mile or so to Mackenzie River Pizza, a place known for attracting families and a relaxed atmosphere. Nothing special about the food, but the booths are comfortable, and it’s located in a relatively quiet part of town. My wife has very specific food allergies, so we were pleased when the waiter announced a new “soy” cheese, gluton free pizza they were offering that week. To “die for” was his exact quote.

Ten minutes later, the pizza arrived and my wife sniffed at it suspiciously as she was well rehearsed on her food choices. “That’s regular cheese” she insisted, so we called the waiter back and requested a double check on the cheese before she’d even handle a slice. Turns out, a new cook started that day, and he had no idea what soy cheese was, much less where they kept it. From that moment on though, a little drama played itself out that was not only oddly excessive, but somewhat embarrassing.

The waiter wrung his hands, apologizing for five minutes before spilling out half off coupons and announcing the meal was “comped” on behalf of the owner. I could even take home the real cheese pizza in a box if I cared to have it. He suddenly disappeared as it became the manager’s turn to address us. He literally groveled on his knees at the edge of the table, “I’d like to give you two additional $10 off coupons,” he said, “good at any of our locations across the state.” A bit confused at this point, I looked him in the eye and asked, “this was a fumble for sure, but we’re not going to sue the establishment or anything, what exactly is going on?”

Turns out, most of the customers, not just ones with allergies, upon learning there is even an extra crouton on their salad have been known to have massive “rage outs” when something is prepared incorrectly. The manager had developed this routine delivering prizes and coupons as his way to placate fire breathing idiots fishing for goodies.

So I thought about a disturbing cultural trend I’ve seen developing since the beginning of this very unique century. Acting like a cutthroat asshole is rewarded by our system; no matter if you are President of the U.S. or someone who’s at a local deli. Businesses are so afraid of getting a bad Tweet on their services that they often rush to send coupons and goods with a smile. While that may be a good business model for social media in the short run (increased profits), it is killing us as a compassionate, caring culture. We are being trained like circus animals to overreact as quickly as possible to any small mistake we can hang on someone else. Kind of like that chicken that played a piano at the state fair for a food pellet. We need to start asking, “Is a $10 off coupon really worth the cost of losing our humanity and sense of community?”



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