The quote “It Takes a Village” has gotten a lot of mileage since first penned by Hillary Rodham Clinton. I’m sure we have all used it a time or two in reference to something or other.
It comes to my mind lately as a term to describe life and thoughts in general as I cashier at the local gas station. For example, just a bit ago, a harried lady and her ‘I-can’t-be-bothered’ adult son came into the gas station.
“Where’s the hospital?”
(You see, I live in a nice small village of 3000, and while we are quite proud of our up-to-date medical clinic, it is by no stretch of the imagination – a hospital.)
“Do you mean The Health Clinic?”
“No,” says Ms. Snappy. “ I mean the hospital. We have an appointment for chest x-rays in 10 minutes.”
So here I stand, guarding the cash drawer and thinking… 25 miles west City A has 3 hospitals, 25 miles east City B has 2 hospitals, 25 miles north City C has 4 hospitals, and 12 miles south City D has one hospital. But the Snappy lady with the rude son are quite adamant that their appointment is at the hospital HERE.
I can only guess that they have no idea where HERE is… Hopefully their phone call to the hospital told them where to go.
Now I like my village very much. There are some wonderful people living here, and when you get to know them individually, you can appreciate their fine qualities. But as a whole combined culture, one has to wonder.
When our little gas station/convenience store was built last decade, the architectural geniuses that designed the building managed to install the entire front store wall in plate-glass. And through this plate-glass front, we manage to enjoy direct sun from the east, south, and west. Don’t ask me how they did it… but sunglasses are needed from sun up until sun down. Interspersed in this glorious glass edifice are three exit/entrance doors. They are clearly marked by the obvious silver handles. Doors 1 and 2 are located on either side of the cashier island. Door 3 is located in the far corner, next to the bathrooms so the users can make a fast get-a-way. It has no outside handle. It can only open from the inside for the convenience of the bathroom bolters. People know that. They understand.
Recently however, we have obtained a new manager. And with new management comes new ideas. For one, the manager never seems to get that bathroom exit unlocked each morning. The evening cleaning shift spends a lot of time cleaning the ‘splat’ marks off the glass door. Folks are taking on a resemblance to bulldogs, mastiffs, and pugs.
Management also got the bright idea that we should emulate the big stores and have designated enter and exit doors. So, Door 1 became Enter, and Door 2 became Exit. To facilitate the re-development of old habits, obnoxious yellows enter and exit signs were posted on each door. To discourage the die-hard addicts, the entire outside door handle was removed from the Exit door.
I remember from my psychology of education days, that a number of research studies were done on learning and relearning new skills. In order to learn something new, you have to repeat it up to 7000 times to burn a simple skill into muscle memory, and up to 20,000 to make a complex skill permanent. So I guess I might be a tad unreasonable in assuming that after only four months, the customers would be on track with the ins and outs of our new doors .
It almost pains me to admit how much fun I have on a daily basis watching the customers battle with the doors. The new exit door is right by my cash register, so I have a bird’s eye view of the customers’ struggle to enter the exit door.
The problem begins as they walk head down from the car to the door. Maybe they are looking for loose change on the ground, but they really need to keep a heads up if only to keep from getting run over by the yahoo’s rushing a shortcut around the pumps.
Head down and eyes averted, they approach the door they always come in – the current EXIT door. They grab for the missing handle. They look around because obviously their eye/hand coordination is off. They look and feel around the left side of the door. No handle. They look up…right smack at the neon yellow EXIT ONLY sign. They step back, look all around, and try for the missing handle again.
Eventually, the poor souls will make it into the building via the correct door. Needless to say, we cashiers get an earful about the doors. The customers will storm out swearing to take their business elsewhere.
Until next time
When they stop for gas again
And head for the EXIT door.
Life in the village is at least, very entertaining!