Saturday, November 19, 2016

Doing Business On Maui, Philly Style

Doing business in Hawaii can be difficult. Not showing up at the house happens all the time, even calling about the cancellation is spotty. Personally, I don't find it charming, I find it lazy, unorganized, and disrespectful. Call me a hardass – I am, I admit it. When people talk about preserving Hawaiian culture, that's a good thing, to a point. Not working to educate yourself and not giving a shit, not so charming.

Not that it's just Hawaii – after all, this is the fight of business, isn't it? I was in the business of pediatrics, and I tried to run an office with customer service. That meant fighting the instincts of staff and managers in many cases. I remember I arrived early one day to our Walnut Creek office and I found our patients sitting on the steps in the hall outside the office waiting room because the staff had kept the front door locked until the first appointment at 9 AM. They thought they were working at Macy's, I guess, with shoppers waiting for the doors to open.

Hey, I said, let them in! If they're early, treat them well, get them in chairs, get them registered, etc. Seemed like a new idea for the staff. You mean we have to be nice to people? Jesus.

I remember an OB whose receptionist resigned and was working for a few weeks until her last day. Max noticed that his schedule started to get lighter. He inquired and found that the soon to be ex-staffer was giving everyone appointments for after she would be gone, to lighten her load. Jesus.

So here we are on Maui and we had to get a document notarized. The Kihei UPS store where we have a mailbox did well by us last time, so yesterday we went there again. The staff seemed to have changed. “Sorry,” said the clerk, “we do notarization by appointment.” I'm not sure she actually said sorry. I think she just went straight to you don't have an appointment.

“Appointment?” I said. This was new. “We're here now, can't you do it now? It takes five minutes.”

“We have an appointment coming in in ten minutes,” she said.

“Come on,” I said. “It doesn't take very long.” I knew that if this happened in our pediatrics office, and if I were there or our best staffers were there, we would please the customer, not a problem.

“I'll check,” she said, and reluctantly looked around the curtain to the cubby hole where the notary was hanging out. She came back and said, “You'll have to make an appointment.” The next one was an hour later. Couldn't interfere with the notary's nails, I guess.

“You people run a great business here,” I said. I wasn't nice. We got our mail and left. I observed to Ann that you could tell they didn't own the business. I don't think I said it to the clerk. Should have.

We went across the street to Bank of Hawaii where we have an account. It was hard to find someone to talk to, but I went up to someone at a desk and said, “Do you have a notary here?”

“You'll have to make and appointment. The next one is in three hours.” Could have looked around to see what they could do, but officiousness won the day. Hawaii. We put it off for a day.

So today we were going to the airport to pick up Sara and Lola. I figured that even though it was Saturday and good ol' Kihei UPS didn't have weekend notary service – I wouldn't have gone there anyway, I remain pissed – somebody in Kahalui would, and I remembered hearing a good thing about Maui Pack and Ship at the corner of Hana Highway and Dairy Road. We had needed something at FedEx across the street some months ago, maybe a notary, and they referred us to Maui Pack and Ship with some respect in their voice. Also, they got five stars on Yelp with a note about great service. I called to see what they could do for us. The lady who answered told me that they had notary service today open from 10 to 4. Great, I said, we'll be there. Then I turned to Ann and said, “I think this lady is from Philadelphia.” There was that accent. Maybe not Philly, but somewhere nearby.

We got to Maui Pack and Ship and there she was manning the store. She took us right away, got the document ready, did the business in nothing flat, and was super friendly. I said, “Where are you from?”

She said, “Philadelphia!”

“I thought so,” I said. “Where in Philadelphia?”

“Ardmore,” she said.

“Did you go to Lower Merion High?” I asked.

“No, we were military and I was away by then. I went to Penn Valley Elementary.”

“So did my sisters,” I said. “I went to Ardmore Junior High and then to Lower Merion.”

“That was the progression,” she said. “So did my older sister.”

Some more talk, introductions, she took the document and our envelope and stamp, weighed it and said she'd send it out. I hadn't asked anything, she just saw the envelope and stamps in the folder.

We left with smiles all around. In the car I said, “I forgot to pay her! I better go back.” Which I did.

“I forgot to pay you,” I said. In that short time that we had gone to our car, she had finished with someone else and was helping the next person. With such efficiency no lines were forming.

“Why?” she said. “You already had your stamp.”

I said, “Well, you notarized it. I owe you.”

She reached out and touched my arm and said, “It's on me. You're a homey.”

Philly service on Maui. That's just what the doctor ordered.

Budd Shenkin

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