Excellence is hard to find

Not that there’s no such thing any more as people wanting to do everything as well as possible, especially when dealing with others, but let’s get real: That mindset and approach are a whole lot less common than they used to be, right?

I often hear people say how nowadays hardly anybody seems to care about doing their best, and society is all about just getting by with minimal effort. A colleague often refers to his appreciation for excellence, but he also laments its rarity.

You know what I’m talking about. Whether it’s at a store, restaurant or anywhere else where members of the human race mingle, it’s apparent that the minimum is often all that’s being practiced.

You’ve seen it: The check stand clerk who finishes a personal call on her cell phone before helping you, even showing body language as if you’re interrupting or bothering her as you patronize the very business from which she draws a paycheck.

Or a post office worker who walks extremely slowly away from the counter (obviously on purpose) just as you approach with the intent of making a transaction that should take about 47 seconds that’s about to take four minutes instead.

Or the library worker who (without making eye contact with you) proceeds to “check in” a stack of about seven books while you patiently stand about three feet away on the other side of the counter waiting to check out a single DVD.

Those are only a few random examples, but it’s all so silly; the phone call can wait, the slow stroll is rude and the books are in no hurry. Incorporating a microscopic amount of excellence (and common sense) would create a situation where both the customer and other stuff were handled in a timely, friendly (and efficient) manner.

My wife, Wendy, and I have been dealing with a prime example of in-excellence over the past six weeks or so involving setting up phone and Internet service.

To make an incredibly complicated, convoluted and downright frustrating story short, it began with making several appointments when a technician was supposed to show up at our house, and repeatedly losing entire days waiting while none did. Then we were shipped two modems instead of the singular unit we needed.

Then, to top it all off, we received a first bill that was about a buck-fifty short of $400 (of course including charges for both modems and a shipping charge for each).

Really? Come on now.

Thankfully, Wendy made a call (about the 13th in a ridiculously long series) and the giant number was vastly reduced to where it belonged. At least, that’s what we were told.

It’s so sad. I mean, how hard is it to do what you do to the best of your abilities rather than simply go through the motions in between the times you grab your “device” and check yet another inane message from your sister or friend?

Honestly, it takes little to no extra effort. Look at it this way: If you’re at work or doing anything else involving interaction with other people, and you’re there for a certain number of hours, you’ll be there those same hours whether your effort is superior or poor.

So why wouldn’t it be the former?

I always like to look at the Biblical angle to societal issues, because that’s where the truth lies. And what does the Bible say? To do your best at all times, even working as if for the Lord Himself (there are a lot of verses that illustrate that point, including Colossians 3:23-24, 1 Corinthians 10:31 and Proverbs 13:4).

Anyway, while I wish it were different, I know it probably won’t be. As I’ve said many times in many ways, this is how it is now and it’s not likely to improve.

Too bad. I like the sound of living in a superior society and it must have been a pleasure when that was more the norm.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. His columns are posted online at www.houstonherald.com. Email: ddavison@houstonherald.com.

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