Mindless Blare

I worked in a bookstore in college, best job ever, and my boss used to deep-six rude customers who acted like dicks. One got thrown out collar-and-belt. His reasoning was that they weren’t there to spend money anyway, they just wanted to throw their weight around in front of powerless people, and we didn’t need them as much as we needed our dignity. I loved that boss and would have taken a bullet for him and every other employee felt the same way, and our customers were loyal because of it.

Mitch Albom would have been kicked to the curb in five minutes.It’s just so hard to find good servants these days:

Is it just me? Or does no one in the service business listen the first time you speak? It seems that any transaction now requires at least one repeat. Sometimes two. Sometimes the person actually walks away, then comes back and says, “Did you say rye toast or sourdough?”

And you say, “Wheat.”

“Right. Wheat.”

It is not occasional. It is not coincidental. And I know it’s not volume, because I have been accused of having a voice that can be heard across a football field. But I still get asked, “Medium or large?”



I personally have never had a problem with coffee/beverage folks not being quick on the uptake. They’re caffeinated, after all. And having worked in a restaurant kitchen I feel sympathy for every fuckup but uncooked chicken and that’s the only time I’ll register any kind of complaint. In my entire life, I have had so many terrible service experiences I can count them on all of one hand (almost all of them at the doctor’s office). I suppose I should, therefore, write a column about how wonderful the new service economy is and how polite and well-mannered Kids Today have become when they are serving my needs.

Gimme a three-book deal and a syndication contract, motherfuckers.

Oh, wait, there’s far more money in being a bitchy old fuck who’s angry that the world moves fast right now, who thinks it’s just the worst thing on earth that everybody doesn’t worship him, and who confuses personal experience with polling data. I swear, has anybody ever so cynically aimed for the miserable middle as Mitch Albom? Has anybody ever so shamelessly capitalized on the people who think that the problem is that the entire world is terrible, rather than that they are assholes?

I blame TV. I blame video games. I blame the mindless blare that our kids have been weaned on, noise, explosions, blasting music, 100 images a minute. No wonder we can’t stay focused long enough to remember soup or salad.

I blame newspapers for giving this column ink and importance, for continuing to pay this fuckmook while reporters get laid off, and for prizing a “brand name” over what he actually says with the space given to him. I blame him for reinforcing the message that we’re all subject to “the society” our kids “have been weaned on,” as if people don’t have choices as to being a jerk or not. And as if that has fuck-all to do with a hardware clerk having a bad day, anyway.

Stupidity via Deadspin.


11 thoughts on “Mindless Blare

  1. Oh, I wish I could afford a shop, just so Mitch Albom would come into it and give me a hard time.
    Just so I could launch him. About five feet in the air and about fifteen feet downrange.
    But, this brings up a question. The world is, indeed, overgrown with assholes these days–that’s a given.
    But why do so goddamned many of `em have columns?

  2. In something like this, I look at three things: approach, message, source.
    Approach= Shitty. If he could only sound a little more like the asshole neighbor screaming about the kids needing to get off his lawn, I’d swear, he could get a recurring movie role as that guy.
    Source= Dick-sweat. I imagine that he still sees himself as “one of the guys” when he writes this instead of the rich superasshole he is. He doesn’t get it any more than the white folk who get all indignant that “they can use the n word and I can’t?”
    Message- Not as bad as it seems because of the other two. Look, I’m not saying he’s right. Nor is it a good idea to do a horseshit generalizing, the world is going to hell in a speedboat, I’m horribly vexed column like this on the basis of your personal horseshit experiences with a barista. I tell the kids I advise not to do this and they actually listen because they have brains that work.
    Nor am I saying that having to repeat yourself when asked “white or wheat” is a horrible imposition that requires a beheading. It happens all the time and I’d rather the person ask again than fuck it up and have me get something I didn’t want. Last night at the ballgame, I ordered two large Diet Cokes. The lady got distracted by the 924 other people screaming around her and after she filled the cup with ice, she asked, “Diet, you said?” Yes. And thank you for giving a shit. Again, in reporting, I teach the kids it’s better to be slightly annoying than wrong. Ask again if you’re not sure.
    However, I have trouble when I get the disaffected-youth approach or the “I’m old enough to be your mother and will treat you as such” approach when I’m eating, buying or doing something at a business. I’m not asking for servitude. I’m not lording over you that with my $1.99 I will make or break your shift at Wiener-on-A-Stick. What I’m asking is that you treat me as well as I treat you. When I’m saying “please” and “thank you” and you’re giving me shit or ignoring me or checking your phone and texting some hot guy (yes, actual experience that was verbalized at the time), I’m thinking, What the hell?
    I think all we all want is some sort of dignity and decency. That’s all. If we’re sharing that as a customer and an employee, great. If not, that’s a shit experience.

  3. “I swear, has anybody ever so cynically aimed for the miserable middle as Mitch Albom?”
    Gee, I wish I could say no. But then I remember Bob Greene of the Chicago Tribune…

  4. I’ll believe Albom’s version of his traumatizing restaurant adventure when former Michigan State b-ball players Jason Richardson and Mateen Cleaves confirm it. Surely they were at a nearby table, and would be easily spotted by their Michigan State garb.

  5. “Measure twice, cut once.” – Norm Abram (and every other) old-timey carpenter
    I’m pretty sure Norm Abram wasn’t all fucked up on XBox and bath salts, he just wanted to get it right, like your server.

  6. Mitch Albom is so full of shit if he had an enema they could bury him in a matchbox. (Stole that line from somebody)
    He’s pissed at his supposedly sub standard service? I’m pissed that this guy gets to spout crap and I don’t have a column so I can point out how wretched he truly he is.
    And then I could generalize his assholery to every columnist in the world and wonder why they aren’t all like Walter Cronkite.

  7. “I swear, has anybody ever so cynically aimed for the miserable middle as Mitch Albom?”
    I remember Bob Greene all too well, also. He’s been shitcanned for years now and the mere THOUGHT of him irritates me. Does Albom recycle the same column and or/same column idea again and again and again? And does he hit on the interns while writing treacly paeans to fatherhood?

  8. Try as I might, I can’t help but read his shrieking blather every Sunday, then laugh my ass off. If you think this one was bad, go read his reaction to the Time cover with the breast-feeding lady. I thought he was going to have a stroke.
    And his sports column writing is worth dick-all anymore.

  9. And I’m sure he’s not considering that retail (I’m thinking especially of food service) has put increasing demands on the cashier to multitask with predictable results of their having divided attention. Gotta make sure to menu suggest while also listening to another order being placed on drive-thru while pretending to listen at the counter.

  10. And as if that has fuck-all to do with a hardware clerk having a bad day, anyway.
    Well, there’s your problem. You’re thinking about some loser service-industry drone like they’re a real human being with an internal life, just like a producer-class job-creator. Everyone knows that once you take a service job, you surrender all claim to humanity, dignity, or equality. Half the reason no one tries too hard to automate those jobs is so that the proles will have someone at whom they can bitch with impunity. Give the rubes someone a rung below ’em, and they’ll remember their own place that much better!
    Didn’t someone order a meteor?

  11. I was in the business, so Albom ain’t getting away with this. Sportswriting, like any profession, is filled with nice guys and dicks, journalists and jock-sniffers, truth-seekers and liars.
    Really. Fuck him and his petty complaints. Whatta a bad-ass, super-star asshole, punching down at the fucking waiter. Snarking at minimum wagers is ballsy, Mitch.
    I’m sure that, like the rest of us, he’s treated like a king by his doctor, lawyer, banker, money manager, the folks in human resources, his editors, the CEO of his company. Never a fucking complaint about being treated like livestock by the movers and shakers in the executive suite.
    Nah. It’s the poor slob behind the counter at the post office who’s making it tough for the fuicking millionaires. How can I enjoy my first class flight later today if the peon at Starbucks isn’t giving me a hand-job while foaming my latte?
    It’s not enough that these rich pricks have every advantage their money, power and position can give them. They’ve still gotta be lords over the serfs, and the serfs are NEVER grateful enough, never quite show enough deference to their betters.

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