Sunday, October 16, 2011

chik-fil-a and south carolina

There are two things that Chik-fil-a does consistently well - "my pleasure" and sweet tea. I go for the drink; I survive the perky greeting with "my pleasure" tacked on the end of everything. In all fairness, it is the nicest greeting of any fast-food restaurant joint, and it really wouldn't be the same if I drove up and received a McDonald-esque grunt and mumble. Typically, I accept the pleasantries and go about my business. In two instances does it light me on fire enough to want to try a saucy "my pleasure" in return a few times. One, when I'm in a bad mood. It's not dissimilar to pouring salt on an open wound or nails on a chalkboard. A high-pitched, unrealistic voice cheerily requesting my on-the-go-fried-food order makes me want to hiss and spit. Two, when Little E has fallen asleep in the back seat. Usually she does this right before I get my lunch on these occassions. I'll be pulling into the parking lot and she konks out. I know once that window rolls down that the squeaky, happy sound will snap her head to attention and make her eyes as big as waffle fries. And then they keep asking for upgrades. "NO!! I've been here 100 times. I know what I want and even how to order it so that you have the fewest buttons to push. Stop talking. You're waking up my infant and potentially disrupting any chance I have at a warm lunch. STOP SQUEAKING!"

But, any other time, it's cool, whatever.

All that to say, I found The Economist's report on South Carolina's September mandate to answer the phones with a cheery "It's a great day in South Carolina. How may I help you?" just plain funny. If I called the DMV and got "It's a great day in South Carolina. How may I help you?", I'd probably hang up and re-dial assuming I had the wrong number (which, technically, I would have since I don't live in SC, but you get my point). It wouldn't make me like the DMV any more. In fact, if it caught me in any of the two aforementioned situations I'd likely start hissing and spitting. This doesn't seem strategic considering that most people who call state institutions are usually not just hoping to chit-chat; they have a complaint or a problem or need a service.

And, just as I often dream of replying "my pleasure" to every question at Chik-fil-a on one of those days when the timing is just off, the announcement prompted many other suggestions for their greetings. As the article lists: "It's still better here than Mississippi. How can I help you?" or, "Thank you for calling South Carolina where unemployment is high, morale is low and political leaders are very busy wasting your resournces. How may I direct your call?"

Maybe if SC got their sweet tea right it would balance the mocking, chipper greeting. Works for Chik-fil-a.

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