The Whys of Bests and Worsts

At my age, everyday events/experiences can trigger all sorts of semi-philosophical questions. Yesterday was one of those days.

In the afternoon, I took my car in to Downtown Car Care to have them look at a funny noise. Downtown Car Care is one of those vanishing places where “customer service” isn’t a phrase shouted from the TV screen by a pitchman surrounded by a lot of chrome–it’s a couple of guys who really, actually know what they are doing. There’s nothing fancy–their dusty, messy office was the waiting room until a coffee shop opened across the street–but they know their customers, and take care of them, because they depend on repeat business. And honest? A few years ago my middle son was in town; his car’s front seat mechanism–the thing that allows the seat to adjust–hadn’t worked for several weeks. He’d taken it to the dealership, and they told him the entire mechanism had to be replaced, and that would cost 800+. I told him to take it to Downtown Car Care for a second opinion and they fixed it. For 39 dollars. Anyway, they found my noise, fixed it, and I went home.

Later that evening, Bob and I met a friend at the Old National parking lot (aka the Murat Center, aka Murat Temple), the site of a “food truck” event. This was a new event, and it was–as my friend put it–a really cool idea.  Food trucks are a relatively new part of the Indianapolis scene, and the idea was to bring a number of them to the parking lot, add music and sell wine. Great idea–terrible execution.

We got there about half an hour after it opened, paid for our $3 tickets and walked in past a cart selling jewelery. Don’t ask me why that was there. There were seven or eight food trucks parked along the Alabama street side of the lot, and two of those were ice-cream/desserts. A number of the best-known didn’t participate. There  weren’t many people there at that point—it may have picked up later, but I hadn’t seen any publicity about it beforehand. Mayor Ballard was there with his wife and ever-present bodyguard. (I was so tempted to ask him why, if crime is down as he keeps insisting, he needs to take a bodyguard or two everywhere he goes. But I digress.) A DJ was playing “music” (note quotes) at such an ear-splitting volume that it was actually uncomfortable. Several people covered their ears, and you couldn’t talk to the person next to you.

It was obvious that very little thought or preparation went into this event. There was inadequate promotion. There were far too few food trucks, and that was just for the scattered crowd in attendance–if a lot of people had come, lines would have been far too long. The choice and volume of music were particularly odd: since alcohol was available, no one under 21 was admitted; it was First Friday, so organizers should have anticipated drawing from the many art lovers drawn to the area, very few of whom were likely to appreciate the pulsing, screeching “music.” Perhaps the folks at Old National, which sponsored the event, belonged to the “just build the damn thing and they will come” school of thought.

When I was raising a houseful of kids, I used to give them the same sermon most of us deliver to our children: if you want to succeed, you need to study and learn everything about whatever job you ultimately take, so that you know what you are doing.  (After all, most jobs aren’t like politics.) If you want your clients or customers to keep coming back, you have to provide them with value for their dollars. That, after all, is what capitalism is supposed to be all about.


  1. “(After all, most jobs aren’t like politics.)”

    I’m told that the Founding Fathers (take your pick as to the actual makeup of that group….I’ll even settle for the Tea Party compilation so long as it doesn’t include Michelle Bachman’s great-great-great-great grandfather) debated whether or not to include the kind of job skill-learning qualifications you taught your kids into the Constitution.

    The idea was rejected because Michelle’s great-great-great grandfather — despite my thoughts concerning his presence — objected strenuously to the idea that his great-great-great-great-great granddaughter would not be eligible for the Presidency.

    (Don’t try and reconcile the number of “greats” with the number of generations since the late 1700’s…..I’m too lazy this morning to do the math)

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