Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Valve Stem, Part 2

Years ago in Arkansas, back when gas stations sold tires and did repairs, I frequented a full-service gas station that sold really inexpensive gas. The owner had a theory: the cheap gas would maintain his base of customers, and these loyal folks would then spend money on other things.

One day I saw the owner just staring into space. He told me that he was closing down the station--people only wanted the cheap gas. I didn't know what to say because I was one of those people.

The little plumbing shop I visited yesterday was a sad place. The carpet was dirty. The counter was piled high with old plumbing parts. The shelves were disorderly and confused. Old displays gave a hint of how the store had been a real retail store at one time, with dated ads tempting you to buy a new bathroom sink or some new faucets. But now it was just sad.

So here I was with my 80-year-old valve stem, asking for some individual, personal service as if I had been shopping with this plumber for years (instead of spending my money at Home Depot). What incentive did he have to help me?

More later...

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