Have you ever wrestled with a corporation? It’s strange when you think about it. A corporation is what…this big machine (right?) churning and grinding in whatever industry, and it all takes directive from that privileged group of people working from the grand and mighty Corporate Office, that mysterious and foreboding place not open to the public. Sometimes, when you’re wrestling with a corporation it’s the Corporate Office that you’re connecting (or trying to contend) with. Formally written letters, labyrinthine phone systems, gatekeepers and grating hold music. It does all seem very much like confronting a machine.
But it isn’t.
Picture in your mind an impressive office building…There’s a small parking lot and some nice grassy areas off to the side. Today it just so happens the facilities manager has scheduled a fire drill; the alarm goes off and minutes later a group of people with various lunch bags are now gathered around outside. Do you see them? The people? That’s your Corporation. It’s a group of people. In fact, some of these folks may very well be the same person standing near you in the coffee shop, or that person with whom you had pleasant conversation on the subway. They’re just people, and then they enter the Office Building, sit down behind a desk, and proceed with carrying out the will of the collective.
Wouldn’t it be something if business was instead conducted more openly, in something like a street market. Picture a farmer’s market sort of arrangement, only instead of selling fruit or wares the people behind the booth are there with the proper attire and happen to have their computers, phones and a network printer. When you need to conduct business with the corporation you walk up to the booth and speak directly with the person in charge of handling the matter in question. No gatekeepers or space buffer, just face-to-face person-to-person business.
I wonder what that letter from the junior attorney or the claims manager would look like if they had to type it out in your presence and then hand it to you personally right there in the open. Why shouldn’t others be able to see the way a company handles its customers and constituents? Or the way it addresses them verbally or through ‘official’ correspondence?
It all sounds pretty silly doesn’t it? But then, how silly is it that one person (who just happens to be working from an office building) can’t seem to treat another person more like a fellow human being, that is to say more decently, simply because we happen to be corresponding from a distance?