Flags Across the Harvest #18March 10, 2020
When I was growing up, my parents did not own a new car. We were a working-class farm family that never seemed to have enjoyed the extra luxuries that were so common during that era.
We were traditionalists. If the purchase could not be made with cash without taking any funds from the savings account, it did not occur.
My wife and I still maintain that edict. If we have something, it is paid for 100% before we take ownership.
This is in great contrast to the mindset of most of society today and especially younger people.
Not until my high school years when I started to buy some of my own clothes with my own money, did I ever have any pants that did not need to be hemmed up.
When my mother went shopping for my clothes, she always got me pants that were a few inches too long and would lovingly shorten them. Not by cutting the material but by hand sewing. As I grew, they would be let down.
Try doing that today when school kids dress as if they were all movie stars.
From 1959 to 1988, my family owned 10 cars. They were:
1952 Dodge Coronet; 1963 Chevy II 100 station wagon; 1963 Pontiac Catalina sedan; 1960 Chrysler Windsor coupe; 1967 Oldsmobile 98 LS; 1970 Plymouth Fury Gran Coupe; 1968 Dodge Dart 270 sedan; 1971 Dodge Dart Swinger; 1977 Dodge Aspen sedan; 1984 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Brougham.
Only the 1952 Dodge was purchased new. All the others found their way to us, and we never went looking for a car.
They were all purchased from someone that we knew that was buying a new car.
For my dad’s 80th birthday, my wife and I bought him a brand-new Ford as a present.
We believed that it was not too extravagant for him to own a brand-new car every fifty or so years.
Whenever we got a new/old car, one of the first things I would do as a child was going into the glove box and taking out the owner’s manual.
In almost every instance, the manual was in much better shape than the body of the car. It usually had its share of dings, dents, and rust. But the manual still carried that new car smell and appearance because no one ever read it.
The only time the manual was battered was if the previous owner shoved a lot of things in the glove box, but back then that was not usually the case. We did not have as many possessions as we do today.
When we took ownership of the car, it was never put right on to the road. My dad, with my help, would need to go over it mechanically. This would take at least a few weeks or even longer.
Thus, the first thing I would do once I checked out the engine was finding the owner’s manual. I would take it out, and much to the disdain of my mother put in on the kitchen table.
If it were still daylight, I would be back out to examine the new addition to the family and waited for the evening to study the guide.
When the time came to inspect the owner’s manual, I would follow a routine that I still employ today with any reading material.
I would sit down at the kitchen table and gently pick the manual up and randomly browse the pages as they fell open naturally. This allowed me to get a cursory overview of the contents. I would then look at the back of the manual and get prepared to read it from page one.
I always made sure that I did not fold it over to crease the pages so that when I was done, it would maintain its like-new appearance.
Invariably the first printed page of the owner’s manual would be a written appreciation of your purchase and welcoming you into that family of vehicle owners.
The text would speak about the commitment that everyone in the company has to you, and the honor they all place in winning your business and trust.
The standard conclusion would be well-wishes for many years and miles of safe and joyful use of your new automobile.
Somewhere along the way, society lost this approach.
For the past many years, the owner’s manuals for any purchase neglect to include any of the previously mentioned gratitude or even any hint of thanking you for your purchase, let alone joining a family of vehicle owners.
If there is any greeting, it is usually cold and only a few sentences, seeming contrived and struggling to contain any sincerity.
I have seen some manuals that almost give you the impression that they feel you are a sucker or fool for buying their product.
This modern way of doing business is not just limited to the auto industry.
Over the past few years for our farm, I purchased a new lawn tractor, brush cutter, sprayer, corn planter, subsoiler, and field cultivator.
None of the owner’s manuals took the time or effort to begin by making me feel good about my purchase. The publications went straight into some facts about the product and, under further examination, did a poor job of that.
Believe it or not, one of the best messages of gratitude is on the back of a container of orange juice from the Florida’s Natural Brand (owned by farmers). It makes me feel good about paying extra for their product.
Imagine how nice it would be if when you made a purchase, there was a sincere appreciation for your business.
Not wanting to fall prey to my own critique, I would like to say the following.
Thank you to all that read my ramblings and listen to my podcast.
Thank you to those that contact me with their thoughts, positive or negative.
Please know that I sincerely appreciate all of you and honor the presence of being in your company.