Read D.F.'s bio and previous columns
December 17, 2007
The Bizarro World of
Brutal Business Truth
The bank branch
closes at noon on Saturdays. I walked in around 11:50 with a check to
deposit. The assistant branch manager greeted me as follows:
technically open until noon, but we really don’t want anyone coming in
At first I was taken
aback, but then it occurred to me. I knew that. That last thing
anyone wants just before quitting time is more work to do. They just
don’t usually come right out and tell you.
Young T.F. Krause
was with me, and he wanted me to take him to a certain fast-food
establishment to get the leading staple of his diet. So we pulled up to
the drive-through window.
“How are you?” asked
When I replied that
I was fine, the voice continued:
“I don’t actually
care how you are. They just tell us to say that. What do you want?”
I replied that I
wanted a large order of fries.
“Is that all?”
“You know, we can’t
make any money if people just drive up and order fries. Don’t you want a
burger or anything? For crying out loud, we have all these sandwiches.
You didn’t even order anything to drink.”
I explained that I
am taking him right home and we have plenty of things to drink there.
“Great. Let the
grocery store get all the beverage profits. Fine. Pull up and get your
piddly little order.”
I had entered a
bizarro business world in which everyone tells you exactly what they
think – no matter how rude or unpleasant.
I kind of liked it.
I had often suspected that many of these people were thinking these
things, and it felt sort of good to dispense with the pretentiousness
and just have them say so. I wondered where else we should go. The
grocery store might be an interesting experience.
We were out of
chicken gravy, which is a staple of Sunday dinner. Don’t ask me why I
didn’t make it myself. This isn’t the Laughing Chef column. At any rate,
I was having a hard time finding it. It’s not in soups. It’s not in
canned meats. I was stumped, to the point where I finally had to break
down and ask an employee.
“Well let’s see,
Einstein. Where would you put the gravy?”
Next to the mashed
“Did it ever occur
to you to look in sauces?”
“Well,” I replied.
“Is gravy really a sauce?”
“Oh for God’s sakes.
All day long I have to deal with customers wanting to debate me on the
semantics of how we label the aisles. You know, I should just let you
keep searching. While you’re wandering around, your bratty kid would
probably pester you to buy all kinds of things you wouldn’t buy if you
could find your gravy right away. Consider yourself fortunate.”
I wondered if I
could keep my business going if I treated my clients like this. I
decided to call a long-time client and find out.
“Bob, this is D.F. I
was just wondering, if I started acting all put out every time you
wanted me to do something, would you still do business with me?”
“To be perfectly
honest, D.F., I can hardly remember what you do for us or why we pay
you. I suspect it’s probably just too much of a hassle to terminate the
contract. At any rate, I just approved your latest invoice for payment.
Probably a complete waste of my money, but whatever. Gotta go.”
This is a
fascinating world, but I had a feeling it would start scaring the
bejeezus out of me if I spent much more time in it.
“Come on, T.F. We’d
better start finding a way to get back to reality.”
“Daddy,” he said.
“The next time you come in contact with reality, it will be the first
The mouth on that
© 2007 North Star
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