As a longtime Hollister resident I try as much as possible to buy local and deal with local businesses. I have tried to give almost every store, gas station, restaurant, retail business and trade business a shot in my 37 years in Hollister, and it is clear to me that not all businesses are created equal. 

There are clearly some that are friendlier, that open more checkout lines, that remember the key axiom that the “customer is always right.” Places where they know my name; places where they try to solve my problem, not take my money; places that when I call and need a professional answer the phone and get someone out there; and places where they don’t. 

Grocery and retail stores where they have all the checkout aisles open and places where they have one. Places where the owner still sets the tone in person, and places where they haven’t set foot in the store for a while. 

Anyway, this is not a referendum on which local business to frequent and which ones not to (The Free Lance and Benitolink have a best of for that). No, this is about why we started tolerating, then accepting, and now reward mediocrity, and not excellence. 

I think this has permeated to all aspects of our society, but I think it first started with the business sector. When we were not as affluent and money was harder to come by, we “shopped around.” We haggled, we evaluated customer service, friendliness, courtesy and respect, as well as being “competent.” 

Somewhere along the line, we got “nice” and started accepting businesses and services that weren’t the best. Probably because it was faster or easier. At first we tolerated it occasionally, but then it became easier. So we slowly learned to accept mediocrity (an example is not bagging our groceries, or taking them out to the car, now to the point that we check them out ourselves). Then when the vast majority of our options become mediocre we actually reward it by “picking the lesser of evils.” 

It has become harder and harder to find businesses that value the customer and show it by their actions. I also think this has permeated our educational system to the point that I am glad my kids are all out of the public school system. It has become the norm in government. I would be willing to bet that if you asked all of the recently elected officials in our county, less than half of them could list the freedoms in the First Amendment of the Constitution. 

In athletics we allow 6-6 and in some cases 5-7 teams into bowl games. Everyone gets a participation trophy and there is no advantage to winning. One of my biggest philosophical differences with labor unions is they tend to protect the weaker or more average employees. Imagine if your public school system had to compete for customers. It would force a drastic improvement in test scores, student behaviors, etc. 

When did it become mandatory to leave a tip? When did it become mandatory to leave a 20% tip? I am sorry but I leave a tip if the service and food are above average, and I leave a tip based upon how much better than average I think the food and service were. 

Be honest with yourself and evaluate all of the places you do business, where your kids go to school, where you work out, where you worship—every aspect of your life and ask yourself, “Am I demanding and rewarding excellence, or am I tolerating, accepting or, God forbid, rewarding mediocrity?” 

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