Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Tuna Sandwich Combo Meal - A New Luxury Standard?


What comes to mind... when you read that single, very powerful word? Boxed chocolates flown in from Belgium? Caviar on toast? Reserved yacht docking in Monte Carlo? Spa massage for the Shih Tzu?  Or, how about...

The Tuna Sandwich 
Combo Meal?

Serendipity is a word we don't hear much, probably because no one can outsource our serendipitous experiences for us. Because serendipity is just one of those things we have to experience ourselves, when it comes along on its own schedule.

And serendipitous it indeed was a few weeks ago, when on the very same day I had bookends of the the service experience thrust upon me to ponder. And I'm just now making sense of it all.

On that fateful morning, I had purchased a niche luxury service item, for a substantial sum of money. The transaction was a bit confusing to me, resulting in my inquiry to the details, whereupon the service sales broker assured me that any confusion of the transaction had been mine. All mine. And that was that. 
You agreed to the terms!

And this luxury thing I had just bought, suddenly, had turned into nothing more than a painful indicator that I'd failed at understanding something - and what an idiot I was for not knowing better the terms of the deal before handing over my money. 

Buying that luxury item was the feeling... of having been slapped

Then in the late afternoon of that very same day, after work, here comes serendipity, as I walked into a Subway Sandwiches shop - and it was one of the more run down, rather unattractive, and all around dirtier versions of their shops - probably a setting as far removed from "luxury" as most luxury service salespeople would like us to believe. I was greeted by, I just guessed by the way she was walking with some difficulty, a lady who had already been on her feet for several hours that day, and probably having served innumerable other customers for her minimum $11/hour wage (with no benefits), which means that she's probably working there 60-80 hours, every week. On her feet. Just to survive. 

I'd visited that same not-so-nicely-maintained Subway shop about two weeks earlier, and this same lady now recognized me. "Tuna?" she inquired. Um, yes! I replied in surprise, as she knowingly smiled at me and nodded her head, and I'm thinking, omg... how did she do that? It was not a guess; I was certain of that.

Could this tuna sandwich... become the
new standard for estate luxury?

I think it was because she knew, and I believe had been trained - judging by what I'm about to tell you next - that customers are not just coming in to get a sandwich, yet they are coming in to have someone notice them, to make them feel good; someone making the effort to remember that two weeks ago I had a preference for something, and well, that's just about all I needed to feel good that day. And I think anyone reading this who is a human being with human feelings, will understand how oh-so-nicely that can make a person feel. 

But what's that next thing? Well, after paying for my Tuna Sandwich Combo Meal, which I believe was about ten dollars, the manager at the register - the one who - I am certain of it - had set the tone for his workers by instilling in them what luxury is really all about - both spontaneously and completely unnecessarily offered me a senior citizen discount. He reached his hand over the outdated, chipped Formica countertop and authentically smiled at me as I was picking up my little wrapped sandwich, bag of barbeque chips, and medium paper cup, and, while walking away: "Oh, sir, I meant to give you a discount. Here, I owe you back $1.72".  


I can't speak about what others should be doing, but if I have the choice between feeling welcomed while standing near a plastic tub of tuna fish, or feeling slapped while standing near a porcelain plate of caviar... I'll take the tuna fish experience. 

Every time.

A feeling of being welcomed, however, is just my own personal idea about what "luxury" should always be connected to. But, I also think the meaning of that word is up for grabs.

So, the question now becomes: 

How will you choose to define this word "luxury"...  in your life... and on your estate?

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