Saturday, December 18, 2010

Community Lost

I only drive into town once a week, and each week based upon the amount of vehicle and foot traffic, the length of lines, and the poor service, it feels as if the population in my town has doubled from the previous week. I keep seeing more and more evidence that I am losing my quality of life, and it saddens me. I know it is only a matter of time before smog starts eclipsing our beautiful view of the Eastern Sierra.

The town is trapped in a bad state between being what it used to be and the city it is becoming. For example, in the good old days you could walk into just about any business and be the only customer. As a result, people would hang out and chat, talking about their children, their grandchildren, and their holiday plans. People still do that, only they fail to notice the long line of people behind them waiting to be served. And the employees doing the serving would rather continue their conversation, because socializing is way more interesting than doing their job. I run into this problem at the bank, the pharmacy, the market, the deli, the tire shop, just about everywhere but Jiffy Lube. I still give Jiffy Lube credit for keeping up a fast pace, while still offering coffee to its customers. I guess it helps to put a word that implies speed into the name of the business.

The last time I went to the market, I couldn't find any of the items I usually buy. This market, which I have shopped at for 20 years, trained its cashiers to always ask the customer if they found what they needed, and if they didn't, they would put the item on a list to be ordered. They stopped doing that.

They also used to schedule two courtesy clerks per cashier stand to bag the groceries, push the cart out to your car, and load them into your trunk. One would stay indoors to help the next customer while the other walked you out. They don't do that anymore.

I looked around and saw most customers bagging their own groceries, and only three check stands were open. In the past, as soon as a third customer stepped into a line, they opened another cash register and took the next person in line over to it. The cashier would physically pull their cart or carry their basket so that no one else could leap in front of the customer she's inviting over to her stand. In some other stores, the cashier would yell out to an elderly person in line at another stand, that her stand is open. By the time that person maneuvered out of the one line over to the other stand, three or four people who were just showing up would already be in line at the other stand and the elderly customer discovers she would have been better off staying where she was. That never happened at my favorite market. However, now they have just stopped opening new check stands, allowing the customers to form such long lines that they block the front of all the aisles.

If the market could keep plenty of staff on the schedule back when the population was smaller and the food was less expensive, and suddenly now can no longer afford to pay its employees after raising food prices and getting 10x their usual business on any given day, something is seriously wrong with this economy. Either that or the market just has new managers who want to keep all that money for themselves.

Once I needed to return my empty cart to a rack, I couldn't find any. They had removed all the cart return racks to make room for more parking spaces. What are we supposed to do? Walk the cart all the way back to the inside of the store? I'm one of those people who always parks way out to avoid getting boxed into my parking space, so I certainly would get my exercise, but if I've got people waiting for me in the car or truck, that's rather inconvenient.

I found an employee in the parking lot and asked him if they had any cart racks left, because people were just leaving carts scattered around in parking spaces. He said, "I don't know. I just moved here and am new at this job."

Case in point.


Anonymous said...

The same thing has happened at one of our small local groceries. Additionally, I was able to see my breath in there yesterday because they had the heat turned down so low. Yikes! I would hate for them to have to close, but apparently they're having a tough time.

I too park in the boonies section of the parking lot, but yesterday this didn't work at all as when I came out of the store there was a car parked on each side of me, so close I had to move the truck to put my groceries in. People!

Ruthlynn said...

Time to move. Come to the Ozarks of Missouri, Summersville. Population 500, has 2 software engineers who work from home - no commute. The market owner walks your groceries to your car here.
The only crime might be speeding by and missing our small town. We have horses, cows, goats, hay, crops and farms here. We have 4 seasons and people leave you alone. But they also help you if you need it.Land is cheap and you have peace. Stop and take a look:
or stop by my blog and read how a city girl is living in the Ozarks:

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Crazy. I see this kind of stuff happening in Albuquerque, but we escape that up here.
It's funny to me how folks in ABQ seem to think we live too far away and have no services out here. We have everything we need, but no long lines, traffic, or rudeness.

I'm glad those in the city think we're too rural. I'm grateful for the tall mountains that separate us from the mayhem.


Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I wonder if Ruthlynn works for a real estate company? I received the exact same comment from her a couple months ago.
But when I visited her site and looked up real estate in her, was it pricey.


Ruthlynn said...

Howdy, actually I am a stay at home quilter, not a realtor. My hubby is the computer geek. We are always looking for talented people who want to leave the city and "go rural". Many of your postings sound a lot like us before we got out of the city. Just wanted to share how big a change for the better going rural has been for us :)

achieve1dream said...

So sad. Sounds like time to move on lol. Those are reasons I hate living near a city. I miss how personal a small town was.