Los Angeles, CA
I travel a fair amount overseas so there are many things that I truly love about America. Sure, there are certain things that other countries do that I wish America incorporated, but for the most part, I really do not want to live anywhere else (for an extended period of time), which is why I get frustrated sometimes, because this truly is an amazing country that has been hijacked by used car salesmen in Washington who have whored us out to the private sector.
I see America slipping into third world country gear every day. The system is eroding and outdated. The system has become corrupt. And most importantly, the cogs in the wheel (corporate slaves) don't give a shit anymore. That's why customer service (on all levels) is laughable. They are not existing to truly serve the customer and only go the extra mile if it means that they will lose their jobs. There's is no honor, no code, just working hard enough not to get fired and following orders out of fear. With that regard, a serious lack of professionalism has appeared across the board.
It's coming to a tipping point where you have to actually bribe people to do their fucking jobs. That's why I'm reminded of the third world analogy because that's how you get shit down, especially in Latin America. No is never an absolute answer when you have a $20 bill handy. My buddy in Costa Rica says that $20 will get you out of almost every traffic stop imaginable, even a DUI (although it might cost a few more if you happen to be a severely shitfaced gringo). Heck, some folks in third world countries become cops so they can shakedown citizens.
In America, those corrupt souls are called clergymen and televangelists.
Graft is out in the open in Latin America, which has both its advantages and disadvantages, I learned. One colleague hires a fixer or facilitator as a "consultant" to pay off the right people in order to have business run smoothly down there. Rampant corruption has become so legitimized that they issue invoices and everything.
I'm a good tipper and the folks at the coffee shop hooks me up. I rarely show up at peak times, like the weekends, but if I ever do I can get a seat a little bit quicker than the average hungover hipster. And in the mornings, when the place is crawling with cops eating before their shift begins, it's kinda cool that they staff always bumps my order to the front.
"We have a tremendous respect for law enforcement," I was told in confidence, "but you're a much better tipper!"
Money gets served before the guys with the guns and handcuffs. Interesting.
Corporations have very little face-to-face interaction with their customers versus say the family owned and operated coffee shop that I frequently write about in this space. The owner hangs out, mingles with his customers, drinks the same coffee and eats the same food as us. That's the kind of business and businessman that I want to get behind.
I guess that's why I prefer writing for myself especially in the poker industry because if pros, suits, or other industry people have a problem -- they can see me directly instead of having to deal with the corporate hierarchy of the McPoker media. In addition, they see me out there busting my ass instead of an army of grunts with their generals nowhere to be found. I appreciate the folks who notice that fact and treat me with the utmost respect because I'm a small businessman just trying to make a buck while doing my best not to get squeezed out by the cold, faceless, and evil media conglomerates.
I had an interesting situation the other morning. I needed a new battery for my CrackBerry and a car charger. Simple enough. I should have headed to my local Verizon store, but the one across from the Beverly Center is an epicenter for the self-appointed self-important citizens of Beverly Hills: LA douchebags, spoiled princesses, and rude suits who treats everyone like they are his servants. Everyone at that Verizon store is an angle shooter and cuts in line even though there is a queue system, sort of like the bakery. To buy two simple products is a fucking nightmare because even though the items are in clear sight and hanging on the wall, you still have to wait in line and have a rep handle your transaction.
Way lame, right? Plus I have to pay for parking. Which is why I went to Verizon's website. The homepage took longer than expected to load, and when I went to the buy accessories link, the page kept spinning and spinning and spinning. I tried again. And again. Same result.
Verizon was on the clock. They had a couple of minutes to get their website back and running otherwise, they were going to a lose a sale. I fired up Amazon.com. I recently became a "prime" member which gets me unlimited 2-day shipping for a year for only $70. I turned to Amazon's search engines to determine if they would get my money over Verizon. In ninety seconds, I had completed my transaction. The Verizon website was still spinning and spinning. Oh, well. Those fuckers lost a sale. (By the way, later that day, the site was working and I checked to see how much the items I needed cost -- and I discovered that I made the wise choice with Amazon. They sold it them to me faster, with free shipping, and it cost like 20% less.)
Amazon 1, Verizon 0.