Saturday, August 27, 2016

Please rate your transaction with us

I live in a small but active town.  I don't get to a large metropolis very often.  But even living somewhat disconnected, I find that I seem to be living more and more in a storm of new pleadings for assessments and evaluations.  

I went to the bank to get some $100 bills.  The good-looking young teller asked me how I would rate my transaction with her. On a scale of 1 to ten.  

I have spent many hours, reading, writing, thinking and talking about rating and grading.  That subject is closely related to the subject of measurement, which leads to types of scales.  So when I am asked to rate my transaction, several hours of lecture and discussion are waiting in my head for delivery.  We could get rather detailed about nominal, ordinal, interval and ratio scales.  We could ask for information about where my rating of our transaction will go and who will be authorized to know how I rated.  Will I be asked to justify my rating?  In court?  

The most succinct advice on grading I ever saw was that of John Holt, an American teacher who wrote several books about teaching.  He advised giving everyone an A.  I am confident that such advice would not sit well with quite a few parents and citizens.  But that, good advice or poor, is what we move toward with the wave of customer feedback and evaluation that we are experiencing.

The young teller told me that all she wanted to know was whether I would rate my bank transaction a "10' or not.  I have been told during several requests for evaluative feedback that any rating below the highest one will be considered a failure.  Some clerks and operators begin to tremble as they relay the horrible fate meted out to those who receive a rating below the highest possible one.  

America is devoted to a gung-ho, energetic, vigorous attitude, even when it is inappropriate.  At times, it takes confidence (We got confidence!!), strength (Feel this muscle!!) and flexibility (We are flexible as a scatter rug!!!) to use a low-key, respectful and demure (Demure is our middle name!!!! And even more exclamation marks than that!!!!!).  Alas, lacking the strength to show calmness and respect, most of the organizations I deal with assert very energetically that anything below "Perfect" will be dealt with…..  I just wanted some $100 bills and she was cute, respectful, and efficient.  She gets a 10 and so do you.

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