Radio Free Montone: Excellence Is In Short Supply

By John Montone, 1010 WINS

Excellence is in short supply.

I’m going to sound my age now, but tough.  When I was a teenager and I had a job, I did that job right.  Even if I didn’t like the job.

Last Friday my wife and I stopped for a drink at a high end establishment in the Garden State Plaza. She ordered a Chardonnay and I ordered a draft beer.  The waiter brought her wine about ten minutes later, but not my beer.  Had I not asked him where it was he would have left our table without a word. “Something’s wrong with the tap, they have to replace the keg, he explained.”  Another ten minutes passed before I saw him again.  He apologized but said they were too busy to put in a new keg because it was happy hour.  Shouldn’t the keg have been replaced before happy hour, I thought, but did not ask.  “I’ll take a bottle of Sam Adams,” I said.

“I can’t give you that for the happy hour price,” he said, “that price only applies to tap beer.”

But the tap was dry.

We decided to take our thirst and our business to another fancy bar where my wife ordered sushi…and got tacos.

Before going home we stopped at Starbucks for a bag of coffee and some wildly overpriced snacks.  We waited in line behind two other customers who ordered complicated caffeinated beverages that consumed the attention of about five baristas.  Our cashier/barista left his post to aid in concocting the brews.  When he finally returned to the register he asked if we wanted a bag.  My wife said, yes.  Her answer produced a barely audible groan as the barista/cashier was forced into the menial service of opening the bag and placing our items in it.  A task he failed to complete.  This goateed lad in his early twenties struggled with the bag for a spell then gave up, handing the unopened bag and our coffee and munchies to my wife.  Who immediately opened the bag and dropped the items into it.

The following day I was reunited with the gentleman who had been my manager at a supermarket when I was a teenager.  As a loyal 1010 WINS listener he seemed truly excited to meet me.  But the thrill was mine.  More than 40-years ago he ran a store which out-billed every other supermarket in the country.  And he did it largely by employing dozens of teenage boys like me whose only interest in the endeavor was a paycheck.  But that didn’t stop him from making sure that we earned our paychecks.  He taught us how to properly bag groceries.  Insisted we know where every item in every department was.  And trained us for weeks in a classroom with a movie screen on how to work a cash register and most importantly, how to treat customers. 

More than forty years later I finally got to thank him for teaching me that when you do a job, do it right.

And if I sound old, tough.

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