Too Much Information

Sometimes, I long for the good old days when you drank iced-tea on the back porch, and read a book to the smell of charcoal just starting to burn. In those days you could smile at your neighbor, and think about how congress was getting things done without gridlock before the eleventh hour. Oh Wait! The dream went a bit too far, that congress thing never happened. What I really miss more than everything else, is not being asked for my comments all the time.

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This is seriously annoying to me. In my younger days, life was simple. You had a problem, you talked to the manager, he or she gave you a free coupon, you left semi-satisfied, and once you did, the employees laughed for an hour making fun of your silly-assed problem. Easy-Peasy. Now we have so many electronic devices and they all want to know how they’re doing. Hey folks, here’s a tip: If I don’t say something, everything’s good, otherwise leave me alone.

 All this prying did not start overnight. Oh no. Back when cavemen wandered the earth places hung a bell over the door with a sign saying to ring it if everything was great. Some rang some didn’t, but either way no one really cared.

Next, I figure sometime around Queen Victoria’s rule, someone invented the comment card. It was probably pretty simple, “Pray tell. How was thine experience? If it was unsatisfactory, the cook shall throw himself upon his sword in total despondency.” I doubt this ever happened. The bad cards where probably hung up on a cork board as a warning, or to laugh at, whichever.

Sometime around the turn of the twenty-first century, as the internet matured, the Customer Survey was created to get the nitty-gritty-skinny on your experience. Mostly a website showed up on your receipt. Go here, and if you do, you get a free donut. This much was true. You did receive a code for said donut on your next visit. This is a terrible promotion. What if all you said was “I hated the place?” That donut code ain’t doing you any good if you’re never going back. It’s only a reward if you liked the place.

Then there’s the promo; If you call in the survey, you get a chance at a five-thousand-dollar gift card. What a load of hooey. They don’t tell you the drawing is sometime in 2050, and the winner will be somebody who has either died or hated the place. The card is less likely to be cashed that way.

The thing is, people take this stuff way too seriously. I have a friend who sells on eBay. After every sale the buyer is asked to give feedback on a scale of one to five. One being, Not Good and Five being, Totally Blew Me Away With Awesome Exceptional Service, I Am Going Straight To Their House And Wash Their Dog. Consequently, it should be very hard to get a five, yet eBay blacklists you, if your rating goes below four-point-eight. Now, how is that fair? My friend gets fives all the time and no one has showed up to wash the dog, or the cat for that matter. Feedback is therefore all a lie thought up by corporate bigshots to make us pawns think we have a say in things.

Not leaving feedback is worse. I bought something on Amazon once and after a few days they asked for feedback. I ignored the email. They sent it again and again each time raising the urgency status. About six months later, two men in expensive suits and dark glasses came to the door. When I answered it, they put a bag over my head, bound my hands, and tossed me into the back of an unmarked van. The next thing I knew I was in a dark room with a spotlight in my face. A man, whose face I could not see, inserted a clip in a 9mm pistol, and menacingly placed it on the table nearby and asked simply, “Do you think you can find the time to submit some feedback NOW? Well I did, and you better believe I gave him five stars. Then a green gas filled the room and I awoke in my bed with only a vague memory and a headache.

That was then, this is now. Nowadays the corporate idiots can’t wait for you to get home to fill out a survey online. They want the information now. So, someone invented these little happy-face kiosks and put them at the doors everywhere. The first one I saw was in the library at my son’s college. It had four faces, two green, two red, and instructed me to press a face as to how I rated my experience. May I ask, how does one rate the experience at a library? It’s a library for crying out loud. If you’ve ever been to one you’ve pretty much seen all of them.

Anyway, I felt obligated to press a button, so I pressed the happy face and was about to leave. Sadly, the machine wanted more. A keypad popped-up with the question “What could we do to make you time with us better?” How do you answer that?? I mean you could say they should add an open bar with dancing girls. But then it wouldn’t be a library, would it? Aside from that, I indicated my visit was perfect. If it was perfect, how can it be improved? What kind of fool set up this cockamamie system?

Leaving this for a moment, I started seeing these rating system kiosks all over the place. Restaurants, hotels, gas stations, and stores of all kinds, suddenly needed to know my opinion, and they wanted it now. I walk past most of them, but they look so inviting that sometimes I just have to stop. I try to tell the truth but, but when typing in the comment I end up rewriting it five times because I don’t want to sound dumb. Why am I like that? Where is the necessity to be intelligent for some nameless computer out somewhere in the Ethernet? I don’t know why, but the need is real.

Gladly I have finally broken my feedback habit. It happened at a convention center I was at recently at. They had one of these stupid kiosks as you exited the restroom. I kid you not. There they were. Those cute little faces asking me to rate my restroom experience. What can you say about that? I mean I went in, did what I had to do, washed my hands, and left. What’s to rate? The place was clean enough and the soap was full. The only thing I could think to rate was the time spent, and if everything came out all right, so to speak. I would have told them to but the line was too long. There was some guy writing a novel on the thing, so I passed it up.

I’ll admit those faces are like a drug. Feedback has become more addictive than meth and is less damaging to your body. Well, I go back to Nancy Reagan on this one.

Just Say NO to giving feedback!   

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