July 04, 2003

Anything worth doing is worth doing right

Today's thought: Anything worth doing is worth doing right

Our modern world has become complacent. Partly because we are too busy to bother with details, but also in part because no one considers the details important. This baffles me. I have been told I am hopelessly neurotic. It might be true, but then again, when I set my mind to accomplishing something I always cross the t's and dot the i's. Most people don't seem to bother.

For example. I have lived in Japan for 18 years. I have been to dozens of Denny's restaurants all over the country, but the only place in Japan where the waitress has offered to fill my coffee cup before it runs dry is in this tiny little farming town where I am now staying. The day after tomorrow I am returning to Tokyo and the thing I will miss most is not the clean air, beautiful scenery or rich history. The thing I will miss most is the world-class service I have received at the local Denny's. I have received friendlier, more attentive service over the past three months than I have ever received at any Denny's anywhere in the world. This puzzles me to no end.

Don't misunderstand me. I have loved the fresh country air! For three months I have woken up every morning without needing to clear out clogged sinus passages. The air in Tokyo is so bad that every single morning I wake up virtually unable to breathe. Between molds, mildews, pollen and pollution, it is a wonder I have survived eighteen years without dying of some kind of rare and unusual sinus infection or lung disease. I have also fallen madly in love with the green hills, flowering fields and endless tracts of rice and truck vegetables. I could easily spend the next twenty years wandering among Nihonmatsu's hundreds of monuments, graveyards, memorials, rustic temples and ancient shrines. But despite all that, the one thing I will really miss is one of my two favorite waitresses asking me if I'm ready for my chocolate parfait yet or offering to top up my half-full coffee cup.

Now tell me, why doesn't every Denny's in the world have service this good? Why don't the waitresses in Tokyo drop by my table every so often and see how I'm doing? The waitresses in Waikiki don't even offer this kind of service any more! Why not? Why is it that the wider the so-called "service" economy expands, the worse the service becomes?

Anything worth doing is worth doing right. If it's not worth doing, why bother? If it is worth doing, then why are we more concerned with covering our mistakes than improving our weaknesses?

Improving the world begins with improving ourselves. Why have we forgotten that?