It’s not news that we are in the “Me” era.  We all have the option to only pay attention to the very specific things that interest us. So a pet enthusiast can surf the web for all things animal then tune into the Animal Channel and maybe peruse Pinterest and pin some cute cat pictures before laying down on their Heathcliff sheets. All this while avoiding all other news coverage. If 9-11 happened today I’m sure it would be a solid 2 days before the more ensconced members of society found out about it.

This has understandably put a massive dent in customer service. Me first has left many a customer wondering what happened to being right. I do, however, think that there is another silent culprit causing the decline in service. One not as sexy to call out or as clear cut but just as detrimental. I give you Standardized testing. Or, to be specific, teaching kids only what they need to know to pass the Standardized tests. So even in cases where a worker may be willing to be helpful sometimes the ability isn’t there because what you’re asking them “wasn’t on the test.”

What kind of lecture would this be without examples.

I was in Toronto. And whenever I’m in Toronto I stop by California Sandwiches.  One day I must sit down with the Canadian city planning board and make a chart of what foods they attribute to what US cities and states and why.* I mean I could see having a place called California Burgers but no American’s California Dreamin’ includes sandwiches.  I mean what’s on a real Cali sandwich? Avocado? Anyhoo, the subs at California Sandwiches are east coast inspired and really good. The Veal and Chicken are crowd favorites. I walked a mile from my Airbnb pad to the Sandwich place, working up a pretty good appetite in the process. My Toronto California Dreaming was slightly delayed when the girl behind the counter informed me that California Sandwiches is a cash only establishment. I held up a finger and vowed I’d return after a run to the ATM. 15 minutes later, after going to and fro to get cash, I came back to claim my super sub only to learn that California Sandwiches has an ATM! I wasn’t going to make a big deal out of this because I couldn’t get back that 15 minutes. The girl behind the counter was pleasant enough and didn’t seem the type to get pleasure from a dickish move like not telling me about the on-site ATM. It would have been better if she was the type. At least that I could understand but what’s more likely is that it just didn’t dawn on her. I’d argue this was an effect of not thinking on your toes more than it was a case of self centered-ness. No?

But let’s not single out Canada.  I ordered toast in a Coffee Bean in Los Angeles. I saw the girl put the bread in the toaster but when she handed it to me it was still room temperature. The bottom of my laptop makes better toast than that. I picked up the bag with the toast and suggested that maybe it needed another go round. She obliged me.  Then she obliged me a third time. What she never did was make sure my toast was well… toast. Finally I was given a piece of bread that had a fighting chance to melt butter. Whew.  Of course then I had to ask for butter…and then a knife. Perhaps Coffee bean should revamp their instructional videos. Or make sure Toast, butter and a knife are on the test.

*Blog about Canada’s homage to our 4th best city for Pizza, Boston Pizza.