Ingratitude! thou marble-hearted fiend...

“Ingratitude is treason to mankind.” James Thomson

Wednesday 3 March 2010

Where is this going exactly?

I am totally in love with The New Yorker. It makes me feel like I am still in touch with New York, which I once thought of as My City but now only actually visit once or twice a year. It has reminded me, even during the dark days, that Americans can be perspicacious, edgy, progressive.  

Years ago, I used to buy issues sporadically from the WH Smith in King's Cross station when I visited friends in north London. I didn't know of anywhere else that sold it and I couldn't afford a subscription. I cherished every issue, reading it a little bit at a time, savouring each article.

When I moved in with the wonderful man who unaccountably agrees to share space with me, he surprised me with a subscription. One day, a New Yorker came through the door of our new home, addressed to me, just like that. I was delighted. So now they come regularly. 

And it turns out I'm completely crap at being a normal person reading a magazine. I feel a little oppressed by the relentlessness of their weekly arrival. So they pile up. I don't want to treat them thoughtlessly, thanklessly, so I kind of persist in keeping them for best, for occasion reading. This is crazy poverty-thinking neurosis. Their very abundance and reliability makes me simultaneously anxious that a) there are so many of them and b) that I must treat them like there aren't enough. See how that's crazy right there? 

There are small piles of them in various corners of the house. I kid you not when I say that sometimes I crack a fresh-looking issue at bedtime and get halfway through it when I recognise an item and realise that I have read it before.

So last night, I was reading this article (yes from last September shut up). Do you know about Zappos? If you are American or need to know stuff about management and customer service, you will almost certainly have heard of them. They will send you as many shoes as will fit through your front door with free shipping, free returns, a whole year to decide if you want to return them and customer service that regularly puts them in the lists of top customer-service-oriented retailers. (If they could do this internationally, that would be some customer service right there.)

When I am in the US I like to order stuff from them in various sizes and colours, enjoy the enormous delivery of shoe boxes (oh joy!), try it all on and if nothing is quite right, just send it all back. The cheapest of thrills, that.

So in the middle of reading this article, I had a momentary daydream about working in their huge warehouse, imagining being part of the big team, enjoying the positivity, the can-do-ness, the high-fiving, the bowls of popcorn and nuts, the, er, five hour Samaritan-like phone calls (well, they all seem cheerful enough, but isn't that kind of a questionable expectation to have of someone who works in a call centre? and what if you need to go to the loo?) ... the high-fiving ... the ... uh ... bell-ringing ... the...snacks (do you know what they find in those?)  

God, wouldn't it be awful, I mean really really awful? I think it would just push me off the precipice of selfish and grumpy and a little spoiled and lazy right over the edge into pure essence of evil.

A little history here if you don't mind. About a hundred years ago I worked in a hostel for homeless people and was told off by my boss for sighing too much, and this was in London, where standards for being shitty with each other are at a higher than normal level. And also? It was a homeless hostel. And I was too emo to work there. So I'm guessing that, even all these years later, a super-cheerful work atmosphere maybe wouldn't be the best fit. Oh, and did I mention that I actually did once apply to volunteer for the Samaritans and they turned me down? Even after I got through the assessment sessions and was interviewed, and also taking into consideration that they accept something like 75% of applicants. Yeah, so there's that.

Apparently, Zappos offer new applicants $2000 to quit to...I don't really know, test their mettle? Weed out the unsuitables? 

I could use $2000.


  1. Witty and insightful. I love Zappos too, but I must admit I order carefully as to style and size and always hope the shoes I select work out. I hate returning them even when it's free etc. and I'm not sure why. I think they need a bit of improvement in their men's inventory too.

  2. Thanks!

    Basically, if anyone takes any notice of me as a consumer I'm happy. There are a lot of things I enjoy about living in the UK, but customer focus isn't one of them.

  3. I have already mentioned how much I enjoy & admire your blog. Ever since the day I discovered our feelings for the NYC of the past with it's artists, writers, vagabonds, & bohemians... we posted about this subjict matter on the same day!

    I love & have used Zappos & I have worn Jack Purcell Tennis shoes since I was nine & I can't always fund them (plus they come in colors now. Zappos always has them.

    I received a subscription to the NEW YORKER for Christmas, from my aunt when I was just 11 years old. When she died, my mother (her sister) carried on the tradition. I still receive it 45 years later & I still am thrilled. I have framed a few of the covers.

    Thank you for commenting on my post today & for your kind words. Your comment actually mattered a great deal.

    Post Apocalyptic Bohemian

  4. Stephen, we are living parallel lives...

    Glad to see you're back and hope you're on the mend. I always look forward to your posts (and I appreciate your comments here).

  5. I ordered from Zappos a month or so ago, having never heard of the company, just because they were the only site carrying a particular shoe. This was on a Monday evening, and they arrived the next day. Then the delivery guy stood at my door for 5 minutes and described how wonderful Zappos is. Is this comment interesting? No. Is it on-topic? Yes. So that's a win for me.

  6. Not being interesting should be no impediment to commenting here. I certainly don't let it stop me from posting.

  7. (Uh, is this a good time to proclaim my big creepy blogcrush on Steamy? And thank her for the comment? Too late?)

  8. LOVE The New Yorker.

    Any time to proclaim a blogcrush on Steamy is a good time. Please, please tell me you've read the sex story she wrote as a little kid.

  9. Wow, yes:

    Hysterical, and so very cringey I had to read it from behind the sofa. Brava!

    (And Sarah, your post about the two fingers? Can I call you a vagenius if I acknowledge that it's your word? I can't get it out of my head. It is already in my everyday mental vocabulary.)