Compromise, Robots & Funeral Flowers
July 14, 2022
A couple weeks ago Tokyo had an unexpected heat wave and Tokyo Electric made a plea to everyone to curb their use in high peak late afternoon hours as they expected the usage to be running at capacity. Now, I’ve lived in Japan for 25 years so I can’t say unequivocally this would cause some bad blood among some in the US, but based on videos I’ve witnessed over the past two years, I wonder. In Japan, it was met with little fanfare. Everyone, no, I can’t say everyone, but it seems at the core, most just stayed quiet and did their bit. Companies/TV stations dimmed their lights, families cutting back on air conditioning, etc. Society cooperating to help a solution for all. Some will say this didn’t really affect the outcome, but I find it was much preferable to the bitching, complaining, threatening violence I witness across the ocean at being asked to make any compromise.
Had breakfast with a friend at a restaurant recently. While chatting, our breakfast came, delivered by…a robot. We took our plates and continued on with our conversation.
After a bit, I paused to reflect on our current situation. Who wouldn’t thought in 1976 when I was collecting Happy Days cards and Wacky Package stickers, some 45 years later I would be in Tokyo, Japan being served breakfast by a robot. AND, not even blink an eye, not even a double take, merely accepting the robot as a commonplace tool in society.
Funeral Flowers Ordered Through the Internet
I debated myself whether I wanted to write this, but I have to get it out somehow…
Recently one of my childhood best friends’ mother passed away. It was extremely important that I show my respects and get flowers there so I ordered the flowers Sunday night for a Friday late morning funeral. I was surprised to see after selecting the flowers and going to the payment cart, they charge healthy fees for each delivery and handling. Plus they offered me an extra fee to make sure the flowers got there in case of a morning funeral. This was important so I checked boxes ok for everything. Then I noticed their was an asterisk on the extra charge that “in some cases they may not be able to deliver the flowers on time.” What the hell am I paying the extra fee for I asked myself. Not coming up with a sufficient answer I went along with it. It’s at 11am, that’s more than enough time…I thought.
Tokyo time- early Saturday morning, Midwest time- mid Friday afternoon
I wake up to see I have an email from the flower company I paid an exorbitant fee to deliver flowers to a funeral. They wrote unfortunately they were not able to deliver the flowers to the funeral service on time and wanted new instructions as to what to do to the flowers.
The representative answered in a very upbeat and carefree voice, what could I possibly be calling them for. After getting through the preliminary information, she said they called they called the flower shop, no answer. What? What flower business doesn’t answer the phone? I know that flower shop has been in business at least fifty years. I think they know what they are doing. Then she tells me they called to ask what to do with delivery but I didn’t answer. I called her a liar. No calls to my phone and I challenged her that drivers were not given carte blanche to call overseas to ask for instructions. She didn’t argue. She could hear the tone of voice becoming increasingly dark so deftly moved me on to her supervisor, who came to the phone so void of an emotion it was a bit frightening. Nevertheless, I pressed on. I was calculating the flower fee, the delivery fee, the handling fee, the extra fee, now an international call fee, the humiliation of not showing respect to my friend fee, which was the most costly. Start talking, Humanoid Flower Dude!
He wisely agreed with me on the driver not calling me. Liar Rep, check! He got my information and said he would call back, yes, internationally, in a few minutes after getting the necessary details.
He calls me back, and on the phone I notice the call coming from Los Angeles. Hmmm…west coast. I place that in my memory bank. Now we get down to facts. I ordered five days early. Doesn’t matter he replies. They only contact the local florist on the DAY OF THE FUNERAL. My mind goes into old accounting calculation mode. If they are calling the local flower shop on the day of for a flower arrangement of a funeral at 11am, they would have to call the flower shop by 8am, 9am at the latest. That makes it 6am or 7am Los Angeles time. No one is calling at that time in LA. Those lazy bastards probably don’t get to work before 10am. Now, I’m locked in.
He asks what they should do with the flowers. Where to deliver? I had all that information written down in my order. Wtf? I asked where are they now and he responded that if I gave the go ahead the would contact the floral shop and deliver them TOMORROW…Wait! What?
You took the flower fee, the handling fee, the delivery fee, the extra fee on time fee, AND the f**king flowers hadn’t even been made three hours AFTER the funeral! That was a deal
breaker for me. He graciously offered a 15% discount. I told him to go to hell. He offered the balance for the next time I used their service. Next time? I guess my voice reached an indignant level where they choose to cut bait. 100% cancellation and I’ll let you off the phone where I don’t have to point out how insane your business model is.
Still, I still will never be able to retrieve the cost of not being there for my friend in some form at his mom’s funeral. That feeling doesn’t get cancelled.