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Stuff versus service

When in the history of America did we switch from paying for service to paying for stuff? And why? These days the only place where I get to enjoy old-fashioned service is at my hairdresser, the person that I used to call my barber. What a joy it is to sit back int that comfortable chair and have someone trim my hair. My eyebrows have a habit of climbing upwards, making me look like a Japanese samurai warrior after a while. What a pleasure it is to sit back, close my eyes, and feel the cold blade of the scissors snip across my forehead, and then to pen my eyes and see the new person appear.

Given the simple pleasures that a barber provides, why is it that we have elected to fill our homes with stuff instead of paying for good service. Sure it is true that Walmart enables us to buy more of everything, but at the end of the day does havng closets bulge with clothes that we never wear mean more than the pleasures of human interaction?

There once was a time when one could walk into a hardware store and find someone who could provide useful advice. I use this example because I have difficulty in hammering a nail in straight. I need help and these days it is hard to find. I’d pay a little more to have someone tell me how to find the right spot to hammer a nail into the wall. Instead, the rest of the world appears just to want more stuff. I want one good nail in the right spot on the wall; the rest of the world seems to want two nails and they don’t particularly care where the nails go apparently.

Perhaps the worst hit are the bookstores. Does anyone remember the days when the bookseller knew what was on the shelves? When the bookseller could recommend an out of the ordinary little delight? When the bookstore was more than just shoveling bound paper out the door? Why is that my fellow readers — are there any left – aren’t prepared to pay a little extra to have shelves filled with good books. Instead, we see Walmart selling the mass appeal books at a massive discount, chains like Borders unable to make a profit with the mass market gone, and the smaller volume speciality titles disappearing off the shelf. Sure, they are still available at Amazon.com but for those of us who love books, surfing the Internet is not quite the same as running one’s fingers lightly across the spines of  real books on a shelf – and then finding an unexpected gem.

I’d be willing to pay a little extra for these simple joys in life. Why is that everyone else seems to want to fill their homes with stuff and to forego these simple pleasures? Does a closet filled with inexpensive clothes really provide more pleasure than interacting with a helpful store clerk, more pleasurable that a hot towel at a barber shop?

Your thoughts?!

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