Sunday, March 19, 2006

Peculiar situation at Target...

Shuffled over to Target today to get some gifts for a baby shower. I was lost between the various "Designers that have Sold Out" sections when I heard something through an employee's radio (it was turned way up). Here's a rough transcript:

"Attention all sales floor employees. Do not use your cell phone while on the sales floor. This is a verbal warning to all employees. You are not allowed to use your cell phone during work. Any employee caught doing so will be subject to discipline. Please get off your cell phones now. Right now."

The voice of the speaker, obviously a manager, was dripping with so much condescension that I imagined the next announcement would be, "Clean up, aisle 9". Of course, I don't have a complete understanding of the situation but I'm going to fill in the blanks. This was targeted toward a specific employee. The manager was probably staring right at this person while saying all this. The manager probably had no clue that customers, such as myself, could hear him.

As I started thinking about this situation some more, I began to recognize several cultural malignancies coming together in a perfect storm. Let's list them by offender, shall we?

  • Chatty employee
    • Cell phones are blurring the lines of personal/public space.
      • There is also a inverse correlation between how instantly reachable you are with the superficiality of any resulting conversation
    • There is an increasing sense of entitlement - I do what I want, everyone else be damned.
      • Ownership of one's job or loyalty to employees is non-existant, resulting in decreased concern and mutual respect.
  • Drippy Manager
    • A victim of corporate indoctrination - had no choice because you can't confront anyone specifically about their problems anymore.
    • Or, an abuser of broadcast technologies to increase desired effect - (think mass emails)
The feeling that overwhelms me with this situation is one of loneliness. All the malignancies I describe above are pushing us away from interacting with each other in healthy, meaningful and enriching ways. Has our culture of independence and empowerment gone so far as to make us a culture of the lonely? I sure hope not.

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