Guest columnist Jon Kahane: Valuing your opinion

  • Jonathan Kahane at his home in Westhampton. Gazette file photo

Published: 9/15/2021 2:36:32 PM

For the past decade or so (including holidays) this 76-year-old has gotten into the habit of taking a daily constitutional walk. I aim for a minimum of 10,000 steps and 5 miles per day. This year’s numbers as of Aug. 29 average 13,954 steps per day and 5.7 miles a day. OK, I have a slight touch of OCD. I try to deceive myself into believing that this will rejuvenate my body, and I will once again be able to achieve some modicum of athletic prowess. You can add “delusional” to my diagnosis.

One tangential benefit of this “impossible dream” is that during these per diem excursions into “Fantasy Land” I find myself gaining insight into the answers to the most pressing issues of our day and in the need to share these epiphanies with you, the discerning readers of the Gazette Opinion page. How else are you all going to learn how to overcome these hurdles?

For example, it was during one of my forays into the Westhampton woodlands that I recalled watching a report on the evening news of a man suffering from severe COVID symptoms in the ICU and maintaining that if he recovered he would still not take the vaccine, because it hadn’t been approved beyond “emergency use.”

Never mind that the medications he was taking in the hospital hadn’t been approved to that level either. He had chosen to take equine medicines instead, which had played a big role in landing himself into the predicament he currently found himself. It was at that point that I thought it necessary to recommend to everyone to wear a mask, wash their hands often, socially distance, and get vaccinated. You’re welcome.

My latest insight occurred last week during one of my journeys into the Westhampton wilderness. What’s left of my mind began to wander into the recent experiences I had with purchasing various goods and services. I thought about the efforts being employed by businesses to improve the delivery and effectiveness of their products in order to make me a satisfied customer.

It was just about four years ago, Nov. 27, 2017, that I wrote a column for the Gazette dealing with the annoying practice of “reminder calls,” which we all receive regarding upcoming appointments with doctors, dentists, or a critical delivery of a pair of socks which were ordered from Amazon four months previously. (I’m sure you remember the article.)

The calls generally start several weeks before D-Day and increase in frequency as the target day draws near. They arrive in the form of emails, texts, USPS, phone calls, or carrier pigeon. You may think that this next statement is hyperbole, but I assure you it is not. I once received five separate reminders via various media concerning an appointment. The final message was that the repairman was at my front door and five seconds later he knocked. What took him so long? (I’ll save you the trouble now of trying to block or “unsubscribe” from these notices. Neither strategy works. In fact it increases the number of irritating memos.) I did request of a dentist once that I would appreciate a reminder text each morning to floss but to no avail.

Another recent stroll awakened in me several other irritations that accompany the purchase of commodities these days — the surfeit of surveys and evaluations which I receive from the businesses I have frequented. Their incessant requests for feedback arrive multiple times in every form of communication available. Often included, indicating their obvious lack of confidence in their product, is the question of whether or not I would like to enroll in a lifetime service contract — for the $3 flashlight I just bought for example. How thoughtful and caring.

In many cases, in order to help us schedule our day, when a delivery is due, we are given a window of when it might arrive — say between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. I appreciate the consideration.

Finally, it was just a couple of days ago that I was at a gas station in order to fill my car’s gas tank and promptly received a form by email requesting that I evaluate my trip to the service station — a self-serve station! Not wanting to be rude, I explained that I probably should have smiled more during my visit. I apologized. I added that the price of gas was a bit high and the pump never thanked me for my patronage. I also commented that it would have gone a long way if the machine had offered to check my oil and wash the windshield. (For those of you under 65, that was common practice when gas was 32 cents per gallon.)

Once again I am submitting this essay as a public service to Gazette readers. I wanted to alert all of you to the fact that whenever you purchase a product or service these days you should be aware that you are also making a significant time commitment which goes well beyond the purchase itself.

Please be so kind as to take an hour or so to fill out the evaluation form regarding this column which will arrive in your email account, text message account, and by USPS. Your opinion is very important to me. Thank you.

Jonathan Kahane lives in Westhampton.


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