When I reminisce about my childhood, McDonald’s has a warm spot in my heart. As a kid we didn’t have a lot of money so it was a rare treat to go to McDonald’s. Our McDonald’s destination was the one at N. Summit St. in Point Place Ohio. It was a time before they had the playgrounds, Happy Meal, and toys for purchase. My favorite lunch was a cheeseburger, fries, and chocolate shake. Although that McDonald’s is no longer there today, something about that time was such a joy. Maybe it was the fact we just were out of the house. Maybe it was the taste of the greasy burger. Or maybe it was just having a lunch with my mother. Either way, it was a good day back then. But little did i realize that the hamburger i was eating was really responsible for changing us all.
I’m sure McDonald’s didn’t realize the monumental upset it caused, but without a doubt our world was altered by them. Before McDonald’s, a customer would wait to have their order taken at the table. The waitress would bring you the menu and your food. It was how dining out was done. But now we stand in line because we are much busier. Service is even faster is if you use the drive-thru so the customer no longer even has to get out of the car.
Along with faster service we also received more options. The menu has expanded to chicken, ribs, salads, breakfast, they even had pizza, lobster. spaghetti and hotdogs at one time. You could get meals custom ordered they way you liked it.
With all these new options, it takes longer to prepare so the hours of operation became longer. Some people work third shift, so some stores are even open all night. All this is good, right? More options, more choices, more reasons to go back. But competition was watching and the tide was turning.
Other business recognized the change and they too have shifted in this direction. Grocery stores became Super Markets. Many are open 7 days a week. Some are open 24 hours. The Mon- Fri 9-5 no longer applies to the average worker anymore. Sundays, normally a “family day” are now usually a workday.
Technology has added to things getting done quicker, but also added to the longer workday. I started my own business near 20 years ago. Back then I had an answering machine for customers to leave a message. Then I had a beeper, for my really good clients that needed me to call them sooner. Of course, cellphones came right behind that. So then all my customers can call me whenever they want.
Now with smartphones you get calls, texts, emails and social updates. It’s true that this technology keeps us connected to our customers, but with all the interruptions it can lead to a longer work day. Everything is more fast, we have more options, we have more to do.
However, this hectic way of life can have an effect on my woodworking. Trying to multitask takes my focus off my craft I am trying to accomplish. The rush to finish the project and post some pictures on Facebook is not my goal. My goal is to do my best. I try to do better that the one before. For me, this can only be done without distractions. It’s hard to train myself to slow down since everything around me in this world moves at such a fast pace. My goal is not to hurry up and finish, but the enjoy the moment of the journey to the finish. So when i enter my shop, it has become a sacred place for me. Free of twitter feeds, facebook updates, and needless interruptions. It’s a step back in time. Connecting with the generations before me of craftsmen who used the skills of hand, eye, and mind to form beautiful pieces of furniture.
When it comes to servicing my customers, I do give them options, but only a few. Too many options can overwhelm the customer. They will hesitate to pull the trigger in fear of regret later. Simple, precise, and quality workmanship is what I offer. For years now I’ve never had to worry about becoming bigger, and producing mass quantities. My customers all love the devoted attention each of their pieces receives from me. So I’ll leave the hectic and chaos of making consumable products to the McDonald’s of this world. As for me, I’ll stay the small, meek woodworker quietly working alone in his shop.
There is no need for me to “supersize” what I do, sometimes less is really more.