Culture Fail: Corvallis Service… East Coaster Says Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That

I’m from “back East,” and I can only imagine how much you don’t care about a Clevelander’s opinion of West Coast living. But in case you’ve never been to, Philadelphia or New York, or even Cleveland, let me be the one to break the news to you: the service here is terrible.

serviceRecently for lunch, I checked out a local sub shop. It took 25 minutes to get my sandwich. This was not during a lunch rush, mind you, there were fewer customers in the hut than employees.

I watched in horror as one employee chatted with a nearby customer for five minutes while my bread got cold. Another employee spent three full minutes wrapping up the sandwich meticulously in several layers of tinfoil like an origami project. I hadn’t assumed the ganja theme extended to the employees all being high on the job.

At another restaurant recently, I ended up just walking out after 45 minutes of waiting for my order. Even less curmudgeonly people than me can agree that’s a preposterous amount of time for a lunch order. Again, they were not exactly slammed at the time. The place was more or less empty. The employees just flat out couldn’t be bothered.

I’ve had similar experiences at several other places in town. It’s so universally bad here that people don’t even notice at this point. In Corvallis, bad service has a monopoly. Nobody complains because they think that’s what service is like.

I know what you’re thinking: “first world problems, dude…” But this is just the opposite. It’s not the One Percenters that are in a hurry. It’s the very same service employees who are making me pull my hair out. If you’re the average hourly employee, you only have 30, 45 or 60 minutes for a meal break.  You just don’t have time for all the idling, bullsquating and unnecessary friend making.

People always say there’s a slower pace of life on the west coast, and I know some people love this, but can we try it my way for a while?

Here’s how it works: you apply the same common decency you apply to literally everything else in your life to your everyday commercial interactions. Would you want to stand in a line for 20 minutes when a little less chit chat would get you out of there in 10? Then pay it forward when you’re the one behind the cash register. I know this is blowing some minds right now, and it is a slightly less Mary Poppins-ish existence, to be sure. But you’re going to love all the extra free time you’ll have. In fact, if you spend just 5 minutes less per day standing in lines, that works out to a full extra month of living over the course of 20 years in Corvallis.  Time to start that 10,000 piece jigsaw puzzle you’ve been eyeing.

It’s not just for me though, it’s good for service employees too.  The work day goes much faster when you’re busy, and the tips are bigger too.

Look, I don’t want us to be rude to each other, and I don’t want to harsh anyone’s mellow, but it’s time we blazed a trail for the rest of the West Coast.

By Ygal Kaufman