Indulge me a description of a recent visit to the local Chase branch, to which I ran a mile round trip on snowy sidewalks because the son of a bitching Chase check scanner I used to use to deposit checks from Vital Speeches subscribers suddenly doesn't work anymore with Macs. Any Macs.
She opened not with a pleasantry, "How are you today?" but with an essay question: "How is your day going so far?"
I've noticed that the Chase tellers are trained to ask that. I don't like it; the "so far" always sounds ominous to me. They must do it in order to initiate a dialogue.
It seems brusk to answer, "How is your day going so far?" with "Fine."
You feel compelled to offer a more narrative response. But in the heat of the high-wattage smile, you feel compelled to tell a happy story. "So far so good! I won the MegaMillion, and I'm here to deposit the check!"
But I am a writer, and tied to the truth. So on this afternoon, I politely mentioned that one of the salient facts of my day so far was the need to schlep to the bank (today, and one day every week going forward) because my Chase scanner doesn't work anymore.
"Oh, really?" she said. "That's awful. Have you talked to the branch manager, Steve?"
"Yes, it was Steve who gave me the number of the woman who told me Chase no longer interfaces with Macs."
"Well, how was your Thanksgiving?"
"Um. Good. How was yours?"
"Good,' she said, adding, "I ate a lot of good food." And then, robotically, calculatedly and by no means for the first time that day, "I wore my fat pants that day. Haha!"
And I understood, as she intended me to understand, that we were finished discussing the Mac compatibility problem. With that little bit of false candor—corporate fauxthenticity, as it were—she made me understand that the relationship between Chase and Apple wasn't her problem in the first place, as I should have understood all along. (Just as Steve had made me understand it wasn't his problem, by joshing with me in his back office and giving me the number of the woman. And the woman had made me understand it wasn't her problem, either. "A lot of people have Macs," I'd told her. "I know," she'd replied.)
If you believe there is anything more phony than the trend toward authenticity in corporate communication, I'd like to hear how your your day is going so far.