Monday, January 30, 2012

St Louis Auto Show

I've been going to the auto show every year for some time, I've liked cars since I was a kid and like to see the new and upcoming models.  Plus, everything is so shiny.  Normally I really dig the show here in St Louis but this year it was pretty disappointing.  Disappointing enough that I'm going to have to consider whether I'm going to go next year or not.  Normally I just plan on going.

But this year the show area was a lot smaller than anytime since I've been going.  There was more space set up for odd things, like electric car and jeep test drives, and an area the size of the Toyota and Scion display that had a dozen hopped up Mustangs spread out.  That was weird.  They had a few supercars on hand, but there was a 20 minute line to walk through and look at them.  They were all behind ropes and the groups was circled around the outside and ushered out the exit.  It was very PT Barnum.

But mostly what made it "meh" was the lack of cars.  There were no concept cars.  The only new models I saw were the Fiat 500 Abarth and the 2013 Mustang.  The Mustang looks pretty much exactly like the current ones and the Abarth was behind ropes with the hood closed.  The engine and suspension is what makes them different from the standard 500 and you couldn't get in to look at either.

There wasn't a Boss 302 Mustang.  There were no cars from Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Mini, Porsche or Land Rover.  There were a ton of trucks and SUV's and not a wide variety of cars.  Overall there were less cars and less brands than I've seen in past years.

The day did have a highlight though.  Like most events it seems the air was running as close to 0% humidity as possible which always makes me thirsty.  I was there with my wife and a friend, and we all felt the need to get something to drink very early in.  We queued in line at a vendor's booth that sold soda and hot dogs and pretzels and the like.

We were forth in line and from the time we entered the line until we departed with our corn-syrup sweetened beverages was greater than 15 minutes.  You must be thinking there was a fire or an injury or something, but alas, there was not.  We were introduced to the slowest worker I have witnessed in some time.

After standing in line for 5 minutes (I didn't start keeping track of time until we figured out what was going on) and realizing only one person had been served we started watching closely.  The man assigned to our line was assembling an order of nachos one chip at a time.  And not just one chip at a time, he would pull one out, look at it, place it in the tray, then grab another.  He occasionally moved around the chips in the tray.  When he finally filled the tray he applied cheese and got the customers soda.  At that point he couldn't figure out how to use the register and after looking at it blankly for 30 seconds he went to get a supervisor.

Of course this whole time he is wearing his gloves.  When he was handling money, picking up chips and wiping his nose.  Yep, that happened a couple times.

When we finally come up in line I order a single soda for my wife and I to share.  It seemed like we were almost done!  He scoops in the ice and starts filling up the cup.  Then stops.  Looks around a little bit and walks away behind a rear wall.  After 30 seconds he comes back with a stack of 10, maybe 12 lids for the cups.  He sets them down, looks around again, stretches, then walks away again.

At this point I'm outwardly laughing.  My soda is half filled up on the machine and he's walked away twice without offering a single word of explanation.  My laughter peaked when he returned 30 seconds later with another stack of 10 lids.  It seems this 20 year old fit man can only carry about an ounce of lids at once.  I'm not kidding that from the time I ordered my soda more than 3 minutes had elapsed.

But the customer service experience had yet to peak.  After returning with the second set of 10 lids he looks at me and says "yeah?  Can I help you?".  He had forgotten he was in the middle of pouring a soda for me.  I reminded him of this and he finished it, then almost affixed a newly gotten lid in place and handed me the drink.

The beverage was $5 and I handed him a $10 bill.  He struggled with the cash register for a moment then tried to make change.  He pulled no less than 4 bills out of the register, including the $10 I had just gave him that he put in the tray, before he concluded that a $5 bill was the correct change and handed it over.

This was amazing.  My friend was pretty annoyed by this point in time but I was reveling in how terrible that experience was.  That place was losing hundreds of dollars an hour due to that man's incompetence and inability to perform his job in a timely fashion.  It was delicious to witness first hand.  It goes to show that no matter how low the minimum wage is set there's a demographic that doesn't deserve it due to laziness.  Any company that relies on minimum wage workers has to struggle with getting good help.  I do not envy them and their business models.

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