The other day, a friend of mine was on his way to work, and made his usual stop at McDonald’s in Monticello for a cup of coffee and a breakfast sandwich.
He had about 20 minutes to spare to get to his job in Liberty in a timely manner.
After getting stuck for 15 minutes in a long line to get his food there, he landed up arriving ten minutes late to work, and got the expected tongue lashing from his pissed off boss,. And it was not the first time this happened either.
He used to go to a local diner every morning and run in for his breakfast roll and coffee, where for years I often met him, but he found a few months ago that he saved two bucks a day getting his coffee and a morning sandwich off the fast food chain’s Dollar Menu.
Ten bucks a week buys a little more than two gallons of gas these days, and as most of us know, that helps make ends meet here in Sullivan County. And McDonald’s coffee is actually pretty good to boot.
So despite that his food tasted better and he always got it very quickly at the diner, he made the change.
My friend is not the type to be late for work.
He was taught by his dad long ago, who employed a number of hourly workers in a business and where he first worked and then took over until it closed, that you always tried to arrive at work 15 minutes early to make sure you actually got there on time. While he now works for someone else, he still prides himself on his individual work ethic.
When my aggravated friend told his boss what happened at McDonald’s to explain his lateness, he got this curt reply: “What do you expect? They don’t give a shit how long you wait, how bad their service is or how crappy and unhealthy their food is. You should know that. They may say they are cheaper but they really aren’t, and it’s usually not “fast” food too. And you should be supporting the diners anyway. Jeez, stop being cheap.”
My friend knew he was right, and was pretty upset about the whole thing.
So he posted a comment on one of his social media sites, and found to his surprise an immediate response from McDonald’s customer service. He was asked to click a link and fill out a complaint form. He did so and then received an email from a manager of the Monticello’s McDonalds, about two hours later.
While surprised, and even impressed with the quick response, he asked me: “Do you really think anything will actually change there?”
I told him no.
Our county now has a number of big boxes and fast food establishments that continue to compete against our locally owned restaurants, diners, lumber yards, and other well established entities that have managed to survive. Some of Sullivan County’s family businesses have been put out of business in the last decade or so because many of us abandoned them for the better prices the national chains charge, even if it only a dollar or two more.
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My friend abandoning his egg, ham and cheese on a hard roll at the diner is an example of that.
And yes, that low balling $1 dollar coffee that McDonald’s offers has seriously affected the morning breakfast business of Sullivan County’s eateries. Many of us have opted to go through a drive thru, even if we have to endure poorly trained employees and inconveniences. As a result, there are more empty stools and booths in local diners in the morning.
We have also lowered our standards as part of this McDonalization. In 2013, our expectations are never high when we go to these national chains.
The other day, someone posted on the Uncensored Facebook Page about how someone provided them great service at Home Depot in Monticello. They were surprised, even shocked. Even my friend was shocked when he got a response from McDonald’s about his complaint.
That personal service and friendship we take for granted in our locally owned Sullivan County businesses is disappearing in much of our country’s suburbia and cities-and it’s changing America for the worst.
We need to support that small town, local way of doing business – and stop taking it for granted too.
While most of us like to whine about Sullivan County, one of the best things about living here is that when we go into a locally owned diner or a restaurant, or any other business, we usually know the owner and his/her staff who, for the most part, try to make it a point to provide good service, be friendly, and provide quality items. They may charge a little more, but they usually have to pay higher costs for goods and also pay higher living wages to experienced, loyal workers too.
So like my friend found out, you get what pay for.
Next week, on your way to work, make it a point to stop at a local diner and get an egg and cheese on a fresh hard roll and coffee-and don’t stop there.
Make it a point to support our local family businesses, even if it costs a little more. It will help preserve our nice, mostly unappreciated small town quality of life here in Sullivan County.