How blunt is honesty? (Or how honesty is blunt?)

An incident happened yesterday while Eric and I were gassing up in a small town north-west of Montreal. A younger crowd gathered at the counter in front of us holding cases of 24 and bags of ice in the attempt to purchase a few items. As Eric mentioned, their rudeness wasn't limited on the amount of space they took for themselves, but how they made their demands afterwards.

They demanded to tally up the cost of everything there, and argued in the meantime whether the quantities on the counter were alright or they should get more, divide the cost by three and put them on separate bills, and then added items to their own individual bills such as cigarettes, cellphone calling cards and gum. This incident must have taken almost 15 good minutes out of everyone at the convenient store's time. What's more, one decided keeping his sunglasses inside was really important for his looks. His anonymity too important to compromise. After having shown ID, the kids left having done their purchases.

I sort of brushed it off when it happened yesterday. Feeling some sort of sympathy for their idiocies; They could have simply gone up the road to the reserve (not even 5minutes away) and bought native cigarettes without any questioning and a cheaper price. Today, on the other hand, because of a completely unrelated reason, I started to think about the incident again.

Eric convinced me to watch Curb your Enthusiasm. So I got the first season and watched it for the first time today, it's the pacing of the show that got me thinking about yesterday's incident.

Is it impolite to ask a client to remove his sunglasses when he speaks to you? Is it blunt to have to explain why it isn't a pleasant experience to talk with three quarters of a face? How much bluntness is there in honesty and how much honesty is there in bluntness?

When it comes to work, it's always a bit of a dodgy situation because any form of honesty sort of becomes skewed. Again, as Eric mentioned, when a man walks into a camera store and speaks first with "I'm looking for a camera!" is it honest or blunt to reply "You aren't explaining yourself well." I guess the answer patrons are looking for is "You've come to the right place!" but then again, everyone knows that. Would it be blunt if a clerk replies "So you've seen our display and read our signs." or simply said "Obviously!"?

Between clients, all bluntness becomes honesty. If a client comes around and says "Dear lord, where the fuck do you think you are?" in reply to the above inquiry it becomes acceptable somehow.

Larry David is blunt when he points out the logical obviousness of situations in Curb, or is it honesty?


At 4/8/07 10:03 PM, Blogger Portelance said...

I always appreciate when another customer who is not involved in a situation will recognize what is going on and either make a comment along the lines of what everyone else is thinking, or simply sympathizes with what is going on. Somehow, as you say, that makes it OK.

Generally speaking, I feel like I have to restrain myself when making comments to customers. You don't want to offend their sensibilities. I suppose I'm not a great liar, though, and so often times the smarter ones will see what's going on and call me on it. This customer today, for example, was asking what a repair on a certain camera would run him. I was sort of hesitant and he was curious to know why... so he just asks me to tell him what I really think. So I tell him the camera is a piece of crap and is not worth repairing. All of a sudden, he appreciated my honesty.

As far as customers who use the "I'd like to buy a camera line" I am both jaded at those who use it and surprised at he creativity of those who do not. Some take the same approach I would -- of simply jumping to the point and skipping the obvious. Those who use the generic line and waste my time generally get interrupted by me very quickly, though some don't seem to like that and will simply keep talking about their "requirements" (which mean nothing and don't present the kind of information I need to help them). Sometimes I'm more jaded than others... I will make a funny remark along the lines of "oh gee.... I SUPPOSE we have a couple of cameras....", or the even more cocky "cameras? no... we don't have any here."


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