I’m a big fan of both the DR field and brush mowers, of which I’ve owned three, and the Vermont-friendly folks who work at DR Power Equipment. Today I enjoyed another pleasant customer service experience.
Coming as it did on the heels of John Kerry’s ghastly “I vow I’ll never apologize for what I said unless I change my mind” (it took just a day) political gaffe, I realized how great it’d be if straightforward down-home people like those who work at DR Power Equipment were the only ones allowed to run for public office in this country.
Kerry sort of apologized for making a bad joke that sounded like he was criticizing the troops. That’s to his credit, because Bush has never apologized for getting those troops into a war under false pretenses.
Yet no matter how sincere politicians try to sound when they’re caught in a mistake, they can’t hold a candle to the guy I talked to back in Vermont this afternoon.
By the luck of the sales rep phone line draw, he turned out to be the same guy who recently sold me a replacement belt for my mower. In that first call we’d talked about how I used to own a three-blade lawnmower deck and now had a two-blade deck. Yet the belt that came in the mail wouldn’t fit my machine.
“Oh, yeah, I remember the conversation,” he said. “You told me which mower you had and then I blanked out and sent you the wrong belt. I’m a fool.”
“Hey, don’t be too hard on yourself,” I told him. “At least you didn’t embarrass yourself on national TV like John Kerry just did.” He laughed. And that got us talking about how Bernie Sanders’ opponent in the Vermont Senate race has been running nasty negative ads that have left him twenty points behind the popular Sanders (an Independent).
“No matter whether you agree with Bernie’s politics or not,” my new DR Power Equipment friend said, “people admire him for being a straight shooter. You always know where he stands.”
Yes, life is a lot simpler when people say what they mean and mean what they say. Kerry doesn’t do that. Neither does Bush. Few politicians do. That’s what makes politics so mean, nasty, and unenjoyable.
In contrast with my telephone call. I’d intended to order the correct belt and send back the other one for a refund. But the sales rep would have none of that. “Keep the belt I sent you. I’m giving you the belt you need at no additional cost. It was my mistake.”
Cool. The other belt fits my mower’s brush cutting deck. Eventually I’ll need it.
We talked some more about politics. He hated how sleazy political campaigning has become—how minor personal peccadilloes are blown way out of proportion and become the focus of an election rather than substantive policy positions.
I agreed with him.
“I’d never be able to run for office,” I said. “Clinton was slammed for smoking pot that he says he didn’t even inhale. I’d have to reveal details of my late ‘60s lifestyle that would provide lots of fodder for negative ads. Yet maybe I could make my psychedelic experiences into a political plus: ‘I’ve taken LSD, but I’m still a heck of a lot more in touch with reality than my opponent.’”
Throughout, I felt like I was talking with a real human being who just happened to work for DR Power Equipment. Usually phone sales reps don’t come across that way. I liked how my DR guy threw in some mild swear words now and then when he got fired up describing some piece of political bullshit, merely mirroring my own language, I hasten to add.
Politicians, take notice. I realize that most consultants probably advise toning down your unvarnished self. But this voter likes blunt honesty in people he votes for, and I know that I’m not unique among the electorate.
When I ordered a new DR Field and Brush Mower earlier this year, there was a problem with communicating my delivery preferences to the freight company that was going to bring the machine down from Portland.
I phoned Vermont once and thought the problem was straightened out. Then the freight company called me and said they still hadn’t gotten what they needed from DR Power Equipment.
Calling back I talked to the woman I’d been working with. “Well, gosh darn it,” she said. “I told Joe yesterday to take care of this. I’m going to walk over to his desk and kick his butt.” Guess she did. Within a few minutes the freight guy phoned and told me that everything was in order now.
I just wish DR Power Equipment was in charge of the Defense Department. Somebody needs to march into Rumsfeld’s office and kick his butt over the Bush administration’s fatally flawed Iraq policy.