The latest rage among my conservative brethren and sisteren is passing around a picture of an automated checkout machine stamped with the slogan, “This is what a $15 minimum wage looks like.” They also like to note that Panera Bread will be moving to automated ordering kiosks by 2016.
But before we continue, please let me stipulate that I don’t think a $15 minimum wage is a good idea because it would put low-skilled workers into a kind of inescapable economic tedium feedback loop that’s gotta be the closest thing to hell on this planet.
Alright! The second closest thing to the abyss. Having to listen to Sarah Palin’s wax poetically about baptizing terrorists is far worse.
That said, I’m more than OK with a $10 or $11 minimum wage if for no other reason than that cost to the economy pales in comparison to the recent losses instigated by Wall Street and the banks. And you know I’ll always be the first one to discuss the prospect of a more level playing field.
With that out of the way, even though some of my best friends lean to the far right, their frequent failure to follow through on some of their pronouncements tends to amuse me quite a bit.
Because whenever the nice lady at the Jewel Food Store politely explains I can avail myself of the automated checkout lane, my response is always something along the lines of, “That’s strange, I don’t remember you guys putting me on the payroll.”
And trust me, that’s the tempered version. What I really want to say is, “You mean now that I’ve slogged down each and every aisle doing my damndest to find what I need without any help from your non-existent floor staff, you want me to pay you for the privilege of scanning and bagging every last one of those bleeping items?”
“I don’t think so! Mrs. Ward didn’t raise no fool.”
And I’m not picking on Jewel because this self-help store phenomenon is sweeping the retail country faster than the news of the Pentagon’s zombie apocalypse plan. (Now I really have heard everything. Perhaps they thought The Walking Dead was another Orson Wells news broadcast..)
Getting a prescription at Walgreens is becoming an ordeal. First you have to enter the second half of your phone number. Then you have to provide the loyalty card, choose credit or debit, accept the amount, and sign the small screen manufactured with Santa’s elves in mind.
I haven’t done that much math homework since my sophomore year of high school.
Now Fresh Market holds your groceries hostage until you fork over your Zipcode. They say it’s to prevent credit card fraud, but we all know it’s all about capturing marketing data.
I don’t want to have to take a test every time I check out. All I want to do is pay the appropriate amount and get the heck out of there because I have much better things to do like drink tequila and annoy my wife.
I love Trader Joe’s! But they’ve figured out that if they don’t provide enough baggers, the customers will do it for them! They play on our collective guilt because if one shopper does it, then the rest won’t want to look uncool by simply standing there.
Sorry! I’ll risk those slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Until I start seeing that bi-weekly TJ’s paycheck, I’ll leave the lettuce to the professionals.
So to Panera I say this! The day you install order taking machines will be the last day I set foot in your establishment because I know damn well you won’t pass a dime of those saving along to me.
Not only that, but there are plenty of places where I can I can extol the virtue of a roast beef sandwich utterly swimming in horseradish to a pleasant staffer who will make my all my culinary dreams come true.
What these businesses fail to understand is, even more than that instant gratification fix advantage, every time someone walks through their front door it’s an opportunity to build a relationship. And your customers like to think they know you.
It doesn’t take mult-million dollar marketing consultants to understand that “where everybody knows your name” really works!
To all those corporate execs intent on a slow self-inflicted suicide, keep putting those machines in your businesses. You may be saving a few bucks now, but in the end, all you’re really doing is conditioning your customers to use the Internet.
Amazon, the company that came up with merchandize delivering drones is figuring out a way to sell groceries and fast food online as we speak.
Suddenly a higher minimum wage doesn’t seem so bad does it?