Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Customer Disservice

I know that businesses all over northern Michigan read this blog to bask in my praise and take to heart my constructive criticisms. So as a public service, allow me to offer Traverse City and its businesses a few handy tips.

Traverse City: A beauty queen with warts on her face.

1. I don't know who is in charge of road signs, but they ought to be fired and replaced with a chimp, because there is no possible way the situation could be made any worse than it is. What is so hard about consistently signing streets at every intersection? What is so hard about not hiding street signs behind the stop signs? Or trees? Or telephone poles? What am I, a fucking psychic?

2. I don't know who is in charge of speed limits and the related signs, but they, too, should be fired and replaced with a chimp working a random number generator, because, again, it couldn't be any worse than what every driver has to deal with. The speed limits themselves are completely nonsensical and have no relation to road conditions, number of lanes, amount of traffic, frequency of driveways and side streets, or whether you are driving through a residential neighborhood or the warehouse district. Worse, the speed limit on any given road changes at random. In any case, good luck in finding a sign that informs you of any of this, because you can literally drive for miles without ever seeing one. Again, I'm not a fucking psychic. If you expect me to obey the speed limit, you have to tell me what it is. Otherwise, I'll just make shit up.

3. I assume there must be a national shortage of the paint used to mark streets because there is a remarkable lack of it on every road. At no time will you see lane dividers, center lines, stop lines, cross walks, or arrows indicating that some part of the road is left- or right-hand turn only. Only small wisps of white or yellow speak of some long lost attempt in the distant past to create order from the chaos that is Traverse City driving.

4. "So", say all 2.5 of my gentle readers, "if it's really that bad, get your fat ass out of your car and ride a bike. Traverse City has this awesome thing called the TART trail." First, try finding an accurate, up-to-date map of the trail. And by accurate, I also mean that said map contain such "non-essentials" as the names of the streets that the TART trail crosses, rather than an unlabeled red line winding through a grid of unlabeled grey lines. They exist, but only at one or two places, and only for a price. I would assume that if Traverse City and the hoards of tree-huggers that inhabit it were serious about reducing vehicle traffic, accurate, up-to-date, detailed TART trail maps would be everywhere for free. Silly me; the reality is that the TART trail is a secret jealously guarded by said tree-huggers to prevent the trail from getting used by The Unworthy, and to keep all those evil SUV owners on the road so the tree-huggers have something to bitch about.

The second problem is getting to the TART trail, and from the TART to someplace useful. See, the TART mostly runs along the railroad right-of-way, and through publicly-owned property, which means it doesn't go anywhere near most of the residential areas where people live or the businesses where they work. But it does intersect the roads that go to those places, so no big deal, right? Well, in a normal city, you would be correct. But this is Traverse City. Due to the traffic chaos described above, no one in their right mind would attempt to ride a bike in the street, even in residential neighborhoods. "But," you respond, "surely there are sidewalks." Well, sort of. But they are unpredictable. They start and end randomly, with no obvious logic, planning, or other form of higher intelligence in evidence. This includes residential areas, the mainstreets inside the city limits, the highways outside the city limits, and even right in the middle of the fucking business district. You are riding along and the sidewalk will just end for a few blocks, then resume for three or maybe four blocks, then end again. It takes days of experimentation to map out a viable bike route from point A to point B.

Traverse City businesses: the warts without the beauty queen:

1. Hungry Howies - Try hiring people to work your phones that understand standard English. How can you possibly fuck up an order for a medium with two toppings, onion-flavored crust, and three-cheese bread? And yet you did. Not just sausage instead of pepperoni, or some other small mistake. You major-league fucked up our pizza, and totally missed the cheese bread.

2. BC Pizza - It's not your customers' fault that everyone in your store is ignorant of the coupons that you print in the local paper, so I don't expect to have to shout to be heard over the store manager yelling in the background about how the "fucking coupon better not be expired" and "make sure the drive gets that fucking coupon." Then to top it off, you fuck up the order, force me to drive to your filthy fucking store to make it right, and can't even manage a fucking apology. Fuck you.

3. Eastfield Laundry - Hire people that can manage to talk on the phone while punching my customer rewards card. I shouldn't have to stand around for five minutes listening to some inane blather about someone else's laundry because your employees are incapable of doing something as simple as punching a piece of cardboard (well, actually they initial it because you are too cheap to purchase a hole punch in spite of your obscene prices) and talking on the phone at the same time. And if you are going to offer a wash-and-fold service, how about sticking a couple machines in the back for that instead of forcing your customers to compete with your employees for wash machines and dryers.

You are all welcome.

And as a matter of fact, I do feel better. Thank you for asking.

And yes, I will be out of this place soon.


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