Who did you take for granted? The operator?

Published 9:20 am Monday, March 16, 2009

Do you take people for granted? I do and I did. There are many people that we rely on every day outside of our friends and family, yet we hardly give them a thought that is until they are gone.

I do not necessarily mean that they have died. They have been replaced by technology.

When I was younger it was easy to put gas in my car. Someone did it for me. I would drive into the gas station, a gas station attendant would greet me and he would fill up my car with gas. He would wash my windows and check my tires. Along with the gas and the tires would be a smile and a little conversation. Mr. Gas Station Attendant made my life easier. I miss him.

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Now when I chose to fill my car with gas I have to wrestle with the hose, stand in the cold,(thank you Mr. Gas Station Attendant for all the cold days you filled up my car) and figure out the credit card slot. Occasionally I will pay in the store. I don’t want to get too used to that because I am sure soon the in-store attendants will disappear too, at some places they have. However if a gas station sells other items there is still a clerk but I am sure technology will figure out a way to do away with Mr. Clerk in the gas station.

I miss Miss Telephone Operator. There was a time when it was easy to talk to an operator and get a number. We didn’t have to press 1 or 2 or 100. We talked to the operator that lived in our area and they found us what we needed. I miss Ms. Receptionist that would actually answer the phone and transfer us to the right department or person since we weren’t sure who that might be. We didn’t have to go through a maze of voice mails to figure out how to talk to who we needed to talk to. We explained our situation to the receptionist and we got the right person. She always knew which person we needed to solve our situations. We saved much of our valuable time by doing it this way.

I miss Mr. Milkman. He always delivered my milk every week. I didn’t have to worry about running out of milk or getting to the grocery store before it closed. Mr. Milkman was there through wind, rain or snow. It was for my convenience. There once was a time when companies were concerned about making life easier for their customers with plain old-fashioned people service.

I miss Mr. Doctor At Home visit. It was so nice when someone was sick to be able to call the doctor and not have to take the sick child out in the weather. Who wants to sit in a doctor’s office when you are running a 103 temp and not feeling well? Who wants to sit next to that person that is not feeling well while they are in the doctor’s office? Certainly with all the technology there must be kits to check people out at home.

I am going to miss Ms. or Mr. Checkout person at the stores where I shop. I tend to wonder how long it is going to be before they automate all the checkout stations so we don’t need Ms. or Mr. Checkout person. Some stores have them already and I am sure they are more to come.

I miss all of these people because in our quest for more technology and the rush of our lives we have phased these people out. For some, these people were the only human contact they might have in a day filled with loneliness. We have replaced social contact with machines that rush us along in our life because we don’t have those extra few minutes for that social contact. Are our lives better because of it? I hear many stories about pumping gas for a job. People were proud of the fact they pumped gas. Do we still make people feel proud of whatever job they are doing no matter how unglamorous? If we still had those jobs would people even apply for them? Or would they feel these jobs were beneath them? If we still had Mr. Gas Station Attendant and Miss Operator and Mr. Milkman we would have more jobs. These jobs were great people jobs. These people touched someone’s life every day.

There are other people we take for granted that are still here. I have thought of these people each time I hear the sirens in my small community. These people are the volunteer ambulance crews and the volunteer firefighters that help keep us safe. These people are volunteers that take time away from their family and busy lives to help us. They risk their lives for us. We take them for granted.

We also take our police for granted. We complain about them a lot. They are either not doing what we feel is enough to keep us safe or they are doing too much and picking on us. Where would we be without them? They risk their lives for little compensation. Who is more important the million dollar celebrity that braves the news media every day or our police who brave dangerous situations every day?

If you look at the salaries I guess that should tell you where our values are.

These people could go the way of Mr. Gas Station Attendant, Mr. Milkman, Miss Telephone Operator and Mr. Doctor Visits. Who will we take for granted next?

Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send e-mail to her at thecolumn@bevcomm.net.