Monday, October 15, 2007

Open Thread #47

What's on your mind?

55 comments:

Anonymous said...

What is it with workers in this town. It seems to me from lots of talks with managers in this town. There is no commitment from people. They always get the comment, "We don't get paid to do that". What ever happened to being able to help your employer when they need help?

Coffee Guy said...

It's not just this town. You get that attitude no matter where you go. I think it's especially true when you are dealing with people who get paid hourly rather than salaried.

Ralph Kingsbury said...

Worker attitude in GFK would make a very good column. Would the person who posted the comment about workers saying "We don't get paid to do that". Your anonimity is guaranteed.
Thank you. Ralph Kingsbury
Please call 738-0028

Anonymous said...

When I moved here I have found that the service people here are not as friendly as in the other places I have lived. They never want to go the extra step to help you, they dont offer an apology when they screw up. I was even dissed at verizon because I was buying aninexpensive phone the kid helping me didnt want to help me anymore because someone came in after us willing to spend more money. I was ready to check out and he did not want to assist as my purchase wasnt good enough for him. I even work in a position where I work with sales/service people and it seems they never want to go the extra step to help the customer and seem to want to blame the customer when its not even the customers fault. Ive worked lots of customer service jobs and this would never fly. I thought when by moving to a smaller city that people would be friendly and helpful...boy was I wrong. I hate shopping most days because of the rude and inconsiderate attitudes I recieve.... not only from the employees but from the other patrons. The attitude of this town is really depressing, and I am counting down the days til we get to move out of here.

Anonymous said...

That is interesting... I have heard lots of people move here because of the positive, small-town attitude, and continue to stay here because of it..

Anonymous said...

My motto is, "If you want me to care, pay me enough to care." It is the sad truth, but if they want employees to be "invested" in the company, $7 an hour is not going to cut it. You get what you pay for works both ways, for employers and consumers.

Anonymous said...

Well I would love to know where these polite friendly people are. I have tried meeting them in a variety of places only to be disappointed and treated poorly and rudely. All I can think is the people who say this must come from places that are really unfriendly.....I have lived in 4 other cities than this one and they have all be friendlier nicer and politer...

And in response to the if you want me to care pay me enough. When you accept a job at a wage you are accepting the responsibilites which include giving a quality performance. its that attitude that sucks! I have been paid very low wages and I treated ever customer with respect kindness and helpfulness. When I accepted that job and that wage I knew what was expected and how much I would make for it. There are plenty of people who make less than that and give excellent customer service! Your lucky you make $7 an hour as there are people out there surviving on minimum wage. And they still manage to put a smile on there face and do the quality work that is expected of them, and go the extra mile to help people out. If you dont want to care maybe you should get out of the customer service field!

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's it you and not "them" that is rude.?

Anonymous said...

No, I go out of my way to be polite and helpful. Im the type of person to help an old lady cross the street, hold the door for the person who has their hands full.....If I come across rude in these comments its becuase I am so frustrated with the way people here have treated us. And I have talked to others about it and they agree that people here arent as friendly or polite as where they are from. I smile when Im in line I ask the cashiers how they are doing and all I get are grunts and glares. I know it doesnt matter what I say because you think this town is great and wonderful. But for someone who has moved here from another city this town has not been the welcoming town I hoped it to be....

Dan said...

Sorry to hear you have had such a bad time here....I moved up here from the south in 1998 and like yourself I hold doors for others and am always polite and usually strike up a conversation first with the grocery checker, etc whether it be about the weather or just asking them how their day was. 80 pct of the time I am greeted warmly and at least responded back too. The others I presume are just reserved or very shy anyway and prefer not to talk period. I always look on the good side of things in people and so far it hasnt damaged me yet... but I do know from moving around quite a bit in life....not everyplace is for everyone.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

I'm originally from Western North Dakota and when I moved to Grand Forks I noticed a significant decrease in friendliness/politeness from what I grew up with. I have discussed this with a lot of GF residents from Western Nodak/Eastern Montana and everyone says they same thing. I've also noticed that a lot of the people who say they this area is so friendly are originally from the twin cities or larger areas. Everything is relative...

Anonymous said...

Some of you may have seen Ron Paul guys on the Demers/Washington St intersection the past few weekends.

I just learned about this blog...

I'm the organizer of the GF Ron Paul 2008 Meetup group (http://ronpaul.meetup.com/964)...

Just to let you know, love us or hate us, but we're here to stay in Grand Forks and we plan on having a continued and visual presence in the city.

I definately don't mind if you disagree or even don't like Ron Paul; it's besides the point. We're trying to make a smaller-name candidate be recognized for President and people disagreeing is just part of the process.

We just encourage people to learn about him because he's definately something else. He can truly say he stands for limited government, no policing the world, and less taxes, unlike your typical modern "conservative."

All I ask, agree or disagree with him, check him out. However, if you find yourself attracted to his ideas (this wildly popular youtube video best explains him- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FG2PUZoukfA)- then do check out and maybe even join our group at http://ronpaul.meetup.com/964

Thanks,

Mike Peterson
GF Ron Paul 2008 Organizer
rudys_fire@hotmail.com

Anonymous said...

anyone no how the check points went?

MattFacingSouth said...

Vis-a-vis the service industry mentality: A lot of what you're seeing is a new generation of workers that is completely disenfranchised with the business world - especially "big corporate."

We saw many of our parents go through downsizing/layoffs, raided pension funds, and forced early retirements - while CEO pay continues to increase and jobs get shuffled overseas. This has created a very skeptical and some would say resentful attitude toward employers.

No longer are we loyal to "the man" - because the man has shown no loyalty to us - instead we have become "free agents," working for ourselves and ready to move on if the situation isn't right.

The low wages and high productivity expectations in our region (in particular) are a good portion of why we're hemorrhaging young workers.

The situation is not that much different anywhere else in the US, but there's at least more to do with what little money you have - which offers solace to some people.

Liz said...

If you want an employee to be loyal, pay them a living wage and treat them like they matter. I honestly don't know how people live on 6-7 bucks an hour in this town.

Anonymous said...

I think most employees mirror how there are treated by management when the customer isn't there.

Anonymous said...

Why does everyone always think that it's so easy for businesses to just pay higher wages in the service industry.

Take restaurants, for example, alot of their profits are being eaten up by increased food costs, fuel charges, delivery charges, etc.

Add in the attitude in this town that food prices should still be as low as they were in the 1980s, the influx of more corporate restaurants, and the constant belly-aching about making updates to existing buildings, and it's hard to make a restaurant work in this area.

Rumors are constantly circulating about restaurants closing. Ask most owners and they would love to be able to pay their workers $13/hr. Reality says if they do, they'll be closed in a month though. How does that benefit the situation. I would bet that if you asked most service industry locations that you think are paying low wages, how they are doing financially, most would tell you that they're getting by. I don't think that most would tell you their getting rich off their business by stealing money from their employees. My guess would also be that the corporates are either making tight gains or they're hemorraghing money also.

I would like to know if anyone has asked small business owners these questions? Has anyone asked 20 small business owners average wages vs. profits? Anyone seriously asked why wages are low? How about asking why the cost of living is so high in this town if wages are so low? Maybe you're asking the wrong people about who's getting rich?

Let's say the service industry raised the average wage in Grand Forks. With profits and operating expenses being tight, one would assume that business owners would have to increase prices. This situation wouldn't fix the high cost of homes or apartments. That's a different situation than the wage situation. You can't fix the high cost of living by raising wages. It could help, but there are other factors involved. You have to look at the big picture...not the small one...

Thanks,

Anon...

MattFacingSouth said...

^^^^ That, and management seems to be fairly disconnected from the customer's needs these days.

Most managers I've worked with up here want you to use the old-school used-car salesman mentality. They often don't realize the most powerful sales tool out there is the internet, and it has mostly made up the consumer's mind before they even walk into the store. This weighs heavily on young salespeople who have to work so hard to stay on top of things yet get paid next to nothing.

Today's salesperson should reflect the customer - friendly, dynamic, knowledgable, yet able to look things up when needed, and more than anything - conversational. It's not about the sale, it's about the relationship - you want people to keep coming back. Instead, most businesses run as a reflection of today's - "money, now" society - and, to be fair, many have to, in the name of staying afloat against the juggernauts. That is a downward spiral.

So management pushes their staff to meet sales quotas or whatever - not realizing that they're contributing to the mess. Sales writeups have become a luck of the draw instead of the product of a good salesperson. So often sales staff are relegated to mere cashiers/clerks and being "there if you need me" - I know that's often the case when I'm out shopping. I can see why so many young salespeople resent their jobs.

This bad management and low pay results in high turnover rates, which prevent staff from gaining crucial experience needed to found and grow customer relationships.

So between that and my previous post, you can see the double-edged sword that looms over the service industry.

MattFacingSouth said...

Last anon, you hit on a good point. The problem is this: transportation costs to this area - one of the most isolated in the country, are extremely high.

Thusly, local prices should be higher than the national average, yet that's not often the case because the customer knows the "street price" via the internet and will either demand it or shop online and get the free shipping (and often no taxes) that so many online retailers offer. A local place can't beat that for long without going out of business.

What should set the brick-and-mortar shops apart from the internet is customer service, but we've already talked about why that often stinks.

So what's left? Not much.

Next we can talk about how economies of scale and the consumer are really the main culprit in the majority of this thread. Local management has just been too slow to pick up on this and you're seeing the effects.

Anonymous said...

Mike Peterson...

Are going to inject Ron Paul into every thread? I hope this doesn't become political space for anybody-especially unelectable candidates.

Szymanski's Designated Driver said...

to the anonymous talking about the unfriendliness of grand forks, i know exactly what you're talking about.... people act like Grand Forks is the friendliest place in the nation where no one's rude...but I'm just not seeing it, I have the same encounters, especially from cashiers. One of my biggest pet peeves is people that are rude on the job, I don't care if you're having a bad day, you have a job to do...at least pretend to be nice.

Don't get me wrong, I have encountered many friendly/nice people...but Grand Forks is definitely not as friendly of a city as many would like you to think.


Another thing, I've noticed on the Ramada's sign (by Gateway) advertising "Comedy Wednesdays" ... has anyone actually attended these? I'm curious as to what it's really like.

MattFacingSouth said...

SDD - it's because they're mostly kids who have no long-term designs on their job or even this town. The "nothing to lose" factor, if you will.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what part of GF I live in. I'm having trouble even coming up with rude experiences to share.

ladybug said...

From another point of view...

My parents visited me here this summer, and all they could talk about was how friendly everyone was and how great the service was a restaurants, fast-food places, convenience stores, retail stores, etc.

They were pleased that a) everyone spoke plain English (not so in other locations around the country) and b) that people seemed truly friendly and wanted to give you good service.

Now, I also see what you all see - the sometimes rudeness and people just all-around not caring about the service they give...HOWEVER...I wil also agree with my parents when I say the service up here is TONS better than what we get in other parts of the country.

Anonymous said...

I only brought up Ron Paul one other time - and that was last week's thread I posted pretty much the same post, however it was Sunday at 2am and by that time nobody saw my post.

Mike

ec99 said...

"SDD - it's because they're mostly kids who have no long-term designs on their job or even this town. The "nothing to lose" factor, if you will."

Too true. I was at the Red Pepper yesterday and there was quite a line. One person working, while two people wandered from the back to fill up their glasses and go back. I said to one "He needs some help." She responded, "I'm not working today." Guess she was just there for a few free Pepsis. Anyway, on the clock or not, she could have helped out, seeing she was tapping the pop. I gave the guy a five-dollar tip and told him "Don't put in the jar, put it in your pocket. You're the only one working here."

ben said...

From my experience in town, most serice people give an honest effort. Some seem so young/shy that they don't interact very well. I think that people who say GF is friendly are right. Maybe they just mean you can count on your neighbors when it REALLY counts, like hoards of GF residents going to Northwood to help, or the way we help when our neighbors really need it. The fact that although there is crime, there are no streets overtaken by gangs, drugs, or other evils, the schools are still good, etc. The grocery store maybe isn't really that important after all!

MattFacingSouth said...

Ec99 - I've had the same issues in some of my old bands - lack of commitment because it doesn't mean anything to them in the long term.

Meanwhile, I'm busting my ass because I'd like to stay gig-employed.

All of these problems play off one another, but I'd chalk your experience up to the new "me" generation not really giving two craps. It also sounds like management is either lazy or ignorant of the problem.

Anonymous said...

Good stuff. The discussion on the local business situation is very interesting. Admittedly as a former barista and worker at a fast food establishment I can say that sometimes it isn't just the low wages, the crappy hours, and the horrible actual job...but while I've tried to make sure I'm friendly and such but honestly, that takes time.

I've seen more flustered service workers than I have seen poor. It is one thing to be completely rude, but I honestly haven't seen that much.

It's usually customers who are unnecessarily rude and demanding...

Anonymous said...

I'm a college student in his last year of undergrad here..and this is what I've seen in GF during the time I've been here and employed-

3 years ago there were job openings, but not a ton, and there was decent competion for those openings (the employers could be somewhat picky). Now, there have been so many businesses opening (mainly restaurant/fast food) that there is a shortage of applicants and workers. I know of many places that will overlook many red flags on an application just to add a staff member and hope someone better comes along. At my current job, we have hired many that have been fired from several previous jobs, served jail sentances, and lack basic common sense and a high school education. It is also much harder to get fired in GF now than it was a year or two ago, simply because many places can't afford to lose those bodies. This is the main reason you have to wait for the two workers at Red Pepper or Subway to make your food, or why you have to wait in line at Wally World or Hugo's to be rung up by the surley cashier- the businesses can't find any better. After almost every shift I work, I go home really pissed off that I had to babysit (I mean supervise) people that don't have a clue about basic customer service or what being quick is all about.

I can't recall the last time I saw so many "now hiring" signs around town and saw so many help wanted ads in the Dakota Student (UND campus newspaper).

I'm convinced all of the business openings has been because of the Canadian dollar. At the place I work (food), sales are up 30-40% from two years ago, and it's almost completely due to Canadians. I really don't want to see what will happen when that reverses. People say GF will do just fine without all that Canadian traffic...but I'm not so sure about that.

Kelly Clow said...

"Another thing, I've noticed on the Ramada's sign (by Gateway) advertising "Comedy Wednesdays" ... has anyone actually attended these? I'm curious as to what it's really like."

I'm not entirely sure how they are going these days, but back in '04 they were pretty busy.

I was the emcee there for the first year they were open, and I had already worked with a good number of the comedians appearing there, so I had a good time.

I'd recommend going out there and seeing for yourself.

Anything to help the comedy scene in GF!

Szymanski's Designated Driver said...

The inability of Grand Forks to support all of these new businesses has been a concern of mine. That does make a lot of sense the way you explained it....and with even more businesses coming in, the work force gets thinner along with the quality of service....that's a shame. An example of this is the Golden Corral, I feel like I'm walking through D-Block of the State Penn with the people that work there.... I thought for sure the Royal Fork would be done because of them, but I prefer the Royal Fork MUCH better than Golden Corral.

Liz said...

The amount of "help wanted" signs up these days seems comparable to the number I saw last year, the year before that, and the year before that. That's what happens when the students pile into town and the demand for services--basically any service--grows.

Besides that, we're nearing the holiday season, so all kinds of businesses are building up their staff. That's what we're doing where I work, and we're still hiring more people every week. I really don't think the workforce or demand for service workers has changed all that much in the last few years. This market has always had more high school diplomas, GEDs, and felonies in the service industry--I used to be the one looking through those applications to decide which lucky applicant would have the honor of being paid $6.25 an hour to sell stuff no one needs to people who don't know any better. As a business owner or manager, you can only afford to be picky when you can be assured they're paying the best wage in the city. When you pay a decent wage, it's not hard to find good applicants.

Anonymous said...

SDD-
Comedy at Dreamer's Lounge in the Ramada is certainly worth the $7 they charge at the door. When my schedule permitted it, I was there every week. You can preview the acts that are coming by checking the schedule at www.courtneyscomedyclub.biz; that's the club in Moorhead that uses the same booking agent and excepting the "bigger" acts (Dave Coulier, anyone?), they're the same comics.

Anonymous said...

Flu Shot
Why is there a difference in the cost of flu shots? Altru has advertised theirs for $49.95. Aurora says theirs will be $48. Down in Fargo, Meritcare is offering them for $35. Will we all pay the same once our medical insurance is submitted? Why the difference? Shouldn't Blue Cross step in? They step in everywhere else these days.

dale said...

Took my daughter to Aurora Urgent Care this morning (after driving to Altru and finding it doesn't open until 10AM) and I have to say I'm quite impressed with the place.

While the people were friendly and efficient, it's much the same at Altru, but the environment! K said that it felt more like an upscale hotel than a clinic, and she's right. It makes it much more welcoming than institutional. Just give me free wi-fi in the waiting room, and I'll be in health care heaven :-)

On the price of flu shots, in the past, my insurance (generic BCBS) has brought it down to $10 or $15

Anonymous said...

What's D Block in the state penn like? I've never been there.

Anonymous said...

Nice that Aurora Urgent Care has internet access in the waiting room. Too bad Altru wastes money on programs like ambulance, chaplaincy, prescription assistance programs, charity care and other non profitable services.

Anonymous said...

I think poor service is to be expected nowadays. There has been several stories in the media about management being reluctant to crack down on an employee, as they know that with the availability of jobs, the employee can simply walk across the street and get another job if they are unhappy with their current employer.

dale said...

Nice that Aurora Urgent Care has internet access in the waiting room.

No, they don't. It was something I said I'd like to have.

As for the rest... it's a clinic, not a hospital. Why would they need ambulances and chaplains for a clinic? Do you demand a waiter and Sous-chef when you go to Burger King? Or gripe when you learn they don't have a PhD in physics teaching at your nearest elementary school?

Hold your complaints until they've built a hospital and neglected to provide the services you mention (assuming they do.)

Anonymous said...

Sad story about the vehicular manslaughter the other night. It appears they were leaving downtown. Does anyone know where, and if, they were drinking at a downtown bar?

Anonymous said...

Sad story about the vehicular manslaughter the other night. It appears they were leaving downtown. Does anyone know where, and if, they were drinking at a downtown bar?

Anonymous said...

Didn't they say they were heading east on Demers in the news report? Wouldn't that be toward downtown. I also heard the driver was going about 100 mph.

Anonymous said...

Maybe a $5 million lawsuit against a downtown bar ? Postings about who or what they found on UND campus. Seems like a body or remains or a person. greenglass4.

GrandForksGuy said...

I would have to assume that this body was buried years and years ago. I would hope that we're not talking about foul play here. Isn't it possible that a body of a deceased person simply could have been buried in this rather picturesque spot long ago? Perhaps we're even talking about a pre-UND burial here.

Anonymous said...

On a lighter note:

Pioneer 90.1 celebrates the spirit of independent music with screenings of "Before the Music Dies" at the Empire Arts Center in Grand Forks Monday October 22 at 7:00 p.m., and at the NCTC-Thief River Falls Theater on Thursday October 25 at 1:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

All screenings are free of charge, with donations accepted as part of the radio station's "Put Your Money Where Your Ears Are" fall pledge drive.

"Before the Music Dies" tells the story of American music at this precarious moment. Filmmakers Andrew Shapter and Joel Rasmussen traveled the country, hoping to understand why mainstream music seems so packaged and repetitive, and whether corporations really had the power to silence musical innovation. The answers they found on this journey-ultimately, the promise that the future holds-are what makes "Before the music Dies" both riveting and exhilarating.

Anonymous said...

The fact that they're involving UND's Anthropology Dept. tells me that the body was buried at least decades ago, if not longer.

deadstick said...

I've been to Aurora urgent care as well - was very pleased as other posters were. Not waiting was probably the nicest feature, although if that were to continue (i.e., no other patients), they won't be around long. I don't think that will happen though.

http://ndoutdoorsman.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Dale,

I don't consider my comments complaints. But I'll certainly hold my comments from now on. I thought this was an open thread.

Anonymous said...

Well Dale comments or complaints can be expressed it is an open thread, not a woven blanket. Keep on keeping on. Why would someone bury a 50 year old woman on UND campus, and not a cemetary. Must be a "cover up". greenglass4.

ben said...

wow - greenglass, you never cease to amaze, do you?

Anonymous said...

cemetEry.

Geez...gotta keep after you squirts all the time.


Anyways...........


Aargh!

dale said...

Umm... I didn't say he couldn't complain, I said it he shouldn't complain about something that makes no sense. Why not complain about Meritcare on the east side not having ambulances and chaplains? Probably because that makes no sense, and nor does complaining about the same thing regarding Aurora Clinic.

Anonymous said...

Dale,

Thanks for setting me straight. I am much more humble now to know that my comments make no sense. To you.

Anonymous said...

A VENUE A MOTHA FUCKIN' VENUE!!! WE NEED A PERMINATE VENUE!!!! SOMEWHERE BIG, MOSH SPACE AND PERMINATE!!!!