Damn Straight We're Impatient!
Take this, for example, on CNN yesterday and today. The headline screams:
U.S. is an impatient nation, poll finds
Really? I hadn't noticed. It looked to me like we're a nation that spends more time commuting than any other, that puts off marriage later and later, that waits in interminables lines for movies and other entertainments. It also appears that we're willing to wait a while before tossing out an elected leader with a 29% approval rating with a no-confidence vote, as they do in parliamentary systems.
But no...we're supposedly impatient. What exactly are we impatient about? Read on to see more craptacular corporate shilling at work.
The article is ripe with condescension (disguised at humor) toward its audience, straight out of the gate:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- We'll make this quick. We know you're busy.
Okay, we get it already...nostra culpa. But what are you talking about?
An Associated Press poll has found an impatient nation. It's a nation that gets antsy after five minutes on hold on the phone and 15 minutes max in a line. So say people in the survey.
THAT'S what you were talking about? So I'm an impatient jerk if I take umbrage at waiting 15 minutes in line, or 5 minutes on hold? So now, if I get upset because I have to wait 10 minutes on hold with my Internet Service Provider just to get to talk to Raj in Bangalore (who doesn't speak English and can't help me in any case), then I somehow lack the virtues of patience and tolerance? If I get upset that I have to wait 20 minutes in line at the local MBNABofAHS&LSuperBankCorp. that only has 2 tellers works, I'm a real jerk? That's rich...talk about standing up for the consumer in the face of predatory big business! The old CNN Lou Dobbs ethic at its finest! But it gets even better.
Almost one in four in the AP-Ipsos poll picked the grocery checkout as the line where their patience is most likely to melt like the ice cream turning to goo in their cart.
Well, I'll be a monkey's uncle. You wouldn't happen to be talking about those grocery stores that have 12 possible registers, but only three cashiers working, with 4 customers waiting in line each, would you? Honestly, I can't fathom why anyone would be upset! It must be a national character flaw... It gets still better:
And it seems people don't mellow with age. The survey found older people to be more impatient than younger people.
Nor does getting away from the urban pressure cooker make much difference. People in the country and the suburbs can bear a few more minutes in a line before losing it than city inhabitants can, but that's it.
No--you don't say! It couldn't possibly be the case that this just might have something to do with the fact that Americans of all ages are working insanely long hours, could it?
Or that suburban workers might have even less time on their hands due to insanely long commute times, driven by affordable housing shortages.
No, it couldn't be. Why, that might be, you know...populist or something. To continue:
In short, Americans want it all NOW. Or awfully close to now.
Please, CNN. Give me the scourges of pennance--contact Opus Dei and see if they can hook me up with a cilice. I will try to learn the virtue of patience, and never question the staffing decisions of my corporate overlords ever again.
If you ask the typical person, do you feel more time-poor or money-poor, the answer almost always is time-poor," says Paco Underhill, an authority on what draws and drives away shoppers.
"We walk in the door with the clock ticking with various degrees of loudness in our heads. And if I get to the checkout and if I have the perception it's not working efficiently, often that clock gets even louder."
But apparently that's OUR fault, as a nation. I haven't quite figured out why yet, but when I do, I'll get back to you.
After skipping a long bit of the article that advises businesses to create distractions in their aisles that make waiting seem more like "quality time" (which is rich and deeply ironic in and of itself), we get back to more of the meat of the article:
Americans are demanding. Half in the AP-Ipsos poll said they refuse to return to businesses that made them wait too long. Nearly one in five owned up to speaking rudely to someone in the last few months when they weren't served efficiently.
Hana Sklar, 23, lives in New York and wants things done, yes, in a New York minute.
A native of Australia, where "it's relaxing, calm, everyone takes their time," Sklar now lives in Brooklyn, New York, and says she typically loses patience after waiting less than one minute in a line or on the phone.
So let me get this straight: in order to bolster your point that Americans in general are demanding SOBs, you point to an Australian who didn't use to be impatient, but has apparently been turned overnight into a seething ball of seven deadly sins just by living in the United States. Somehow, that's the fault of the American people--not the institutions and corporations "servicing" them.
Meanwhile, we learn that if we all acted like we had been in the military for 23 years, then we would be much better people. Because learning to shut up, take orders, and do what you're told, when you're told, is the highest virtue anyone can aspire to:
Now meet one of the most patient men in America. John Vivian, 72, of Lantana, Florida, can wait "hours" on hold on the phone. "I spent 23 years in the military and if you spent 23 years in the military, you don't lose your patience."
He worked for just as long behind the post office counter, giving him a really thick skin. "Life is too short to be upset," he says.
Ah yes, Mr. Vivian. Life is too short to be upset; I prefer to spend mine happy idling in the Shangri-La of my local Wal-Mart checkout line, waiting to be served after 15 minutes by a friendly sub-minimum wage worker on Medicare--with a smile on my face.
And it gets worse:
Overall, 60 percent in the survey said they can usually wait no more than 15 minutes in a line before losing their cool.
Their fuses are even shorter on the phone.
Nearly four in five respondents in the survey said their patience has run out while being kept on hold.
As if by some cruel joke, phoning the phone company is often a path to madness.
Ah yes--it's a cruel joke. The same friendly companies that charge you exorbitant rates while simultaneously handing over your phone records to your friendly NSA snoops are possibly the most overlooked victims of our irrational rage at being placed on hold for 45 minutes at a time. If only the our Lord's sheep were more docile and patient, AT&T's world would be such a better place. And after all, what could make for a happier America than a happier and less harrassed national telephone conglomerate?
In the survey, 54 percent said they can wait no more than five minutes on hold before losing their patience. Only 7 percent could bear more than 20 minutes.
However long the wait, people strongly prefer hearing recorded music while on hold and appreciate periodic estimates of remaining waiting time, the poll indicates. Most did not want to be held hostage to talk radio or company ads, and less than one-third wanted silence.
You're kidding me! What kind of savages are Americans, anyway? The fact that consumers don't want to bombarded advertisements for the company making them wait on hold to resolve their yet unresolved customer service issue--or don't want to be assaulted with pro-corporate conservative talk-show hosts--is surely a sign of the end times. Pretty soon, we'll just be shooting each other in the streets, we're so rude.
Jeez, lighten up America!
Me? I think wait times on the phone or in line is an issue for Americans and their corporate overlords to decide. I think that Americans will be just fine.
What I don't know is how much more of the sniveling, cowardly, stand-up-for-the-big-guy, corporate apologist bully's little helper that we call our "Traditional Media" America can take.
Maybe it's time we put CNN on hold...
[Cross-posted on The Daily Kos]