I find it fascinating that self-serve has become our way of life. It is a drastic difference from the 1950s and ’60s and even into the ’70s when there were people available to help us out if we needed it. I want you to count on your hands how many full-service gas stations are still out there. After you think for numerous minutes, I bet you can only believe of one. If you said two, I would be amazed. If you asked yourself, “What is a full-service gas station?” I will just tell you now. Not so long ago, you could pull into any gas station and drive up to the pumps, a ding would go off, and within a short period, a uniformed attendant would come out to your car. That attendant would ask you how much gas you wanted and proceed to pump the gas for you. While the pump was running, he would check your oil, check your tire pressure, check your hoses and belts, and clean your windshield for you. I know it sounds like crazy talk, but it happened. You can ask anyone over fifty, and I bet they will remember. But, like anything, the uniformed attendants slowly faded away only to be replaced by self-service pumps that we pump ourselves. There was even a time when we would have to go inside the gas station and pay, but even that has disappeared with the convenience of paying at the pump.
I understand the vast convenience of doing things ourselves. Sometimes it is much quicker, and we can get it done our way and in our time frame, but sometimes having that convenience takes away our power to make good decisions. We cannot be experts in everything at all times. It would be nice if we were, but inevitably we cannot be. In the end, we are only experts in a few things, and in all the others, sometimes it would be nice to ask someone to help. When was the last time you remember calling a customer service department and having someone pick up the phone without having to go through an automated system first? When did it all of a sudden become all right to check me out at a store? I just had to call a prescription at my local pharmacy, and I got an automated system. It was my local pharmacy, and I still had to talk to a computer. In the end, I had my prescription, but it lacked a personal touch. If I had any questions, I suppose I could have tried to get to someone, but I would have to go through fifteen menus to get to a live person.
Call me crazy or even old-fashioned, but I like to talk to someone in person. I want them to know who I am and sometimes a little about me. I like to be important to the people I seek to help me, even if it is for the short time that I am talking with them. I go to my bank primarily because of the banker, not the bank. I switched from my doctor of 33 years because I could not remember the last time I saw him and not a physician’s assistant. When I tried to make an appointment with him, being a patient for 33 years, he was never available. I now have an actual doctor that I go to; she comes into the exam room and sees me, talks with me, and feels better knowing that I was important to her for a while. I changed my dentist for the same reason. In the end, what I am trying to say is that taking advice from an expert is good; seeking advice from someone who has a vested interest in you is even better.
We all have hectic lives and tend to want to get things done in a fast and convenient way. By doing this, we sacrifice more than just time. I agree some things we can do on our own and never have an issue. I can check myself out at the store, but why should I have to? I can go to the doctor and be seen by a physician’s assistant, who is very competent in what they do, but in the end, I did not choose them as my doctor. I decided on my doctor and had not seen him for ten years. Just because the status quo these days is to self-serve does not mean you have to. There are plenty of professionals still out there that will give you a full-service experience. They will even have your best interests at heart. Sure, you may have to lay out a few extra dollars and take a little more time out of your life, but ultimately they will have helped you make the best choices for you with the knowledge and experience behind them.
When the gas attendant came out to fill up your tank, he would look under the hood and make sure that the belts were tight so that your car would run as it should, that the oil was full and not leaking, that your tires were full of air so you would not have to change a flat in the middle of nowhere, and that your windshield was clear. They did all of this so you could continue on your journey without worry. Now our cars tell us that the air is low or that the oil is gone if the warning light comes on at all, but it is up to us to make that appointment to get it fixed. We often let it slide for a couple of weeks or worse, try to do it ourselves. The professional spurs us on to get the task complete with our best interests in mind. So, stop asking yourself how much I do myself on any given day and what things I should be looking for help with because self serves may not best serve you.