Psychology, Society, Uncategorized, Work

All Wrapped Up

Shrink wrapped helicopters

Shrink wrapped helicopters (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ikea have a lot to answer for.  Well, not just Ikea really but retail outlets in general, combined with the general idea of everything being available to conveniently take away.

A while back a customer arrived to collect a mirror, this is a custom mirror, hand-cut, semi-hand-polished, we don’t have off-the-shelf mirrors, or double-glazed units, or windows, the world just isn’t that standardised, as I’ve discussed before.  Anyway, I brought the mirror out and carefully placed it down, sitting on its corner protectors which stop the polished edge being chipped.  “Is that it?”  he boomed.  “That’s the mirror you ordered.”  “But aren’t you going to wrap it up in something, it’s gotta go in my van, what the f**k am I going to do with that?”  I use a question mark there but it may have been a rhetorical question.  I said that we didn’t have any cardboard or bubble wrap.  “Right, I’ll go and sort my van out and wrap it up my f*ing self then.”

Someone else ordering a double-glazing unit recently asked “will it come packaged up?”

This is the thing, if you buy a timber door from a DIY store it’ll probably have a bit of shrink-wrap around it it protects it from rubs but not knocks as such, we don’t have the facilities to package everything and it’s impractical to keep packing materials in all the time, if we do have some card and people ask then we will wrap things up, the problem is the expectation of it being packaged and the reactions if we can’t.

Most of our products are supplied to trade people who turn up prepared, with vehicles suited to the task but more often people turn up in vehicles that are too small for the glass or come without anything to support it at all.  At the opposite end of the scale one customer used to turn up with a specially made tray on the roof of his car for carrying mirrors and another had built a timber support inside his car to move one glass unit – which was an impressive level of preparedness.  Most customers at the moment do come prepared in one way or another, even if it means five minutes of me standing by the car holding the glass while they remove jacks, toolboxes, shopping and so on from the car boot before spreading out an emergency tartan blanket as support.

For the rest though the explanation is the takeaway society – people expecting to not have to do anything themselves, just turn up, have it wheeled out and put in their unprepared car.  Their food comes in packages in the supermarket, their furniture comes in boxes, or delivered in vans, so it comes as a shock to find something that doesn’t conform to their expectations it’s just unfortunate that so many people’s reaction today is not to either ask politely if we might have something to put round the glass, or say that they’d go and get something themselves or a more suitable vehicle but instead to refuse to acknowledge that they may have overlooked the transport issue, to blame the supplier, to lash out with indignation and exclaim angrily that it should be wrapped up, that it’s our duty, that it’s the law – nothing comes unwrapped these days, don’t we know that, it’s a basic human right for goodness sake.

Ahem, sorry.  Anyway, it’s late here so I will just wrap this up for you now.

Architecture, Psychology, Society, Uncategorized

Standard Issue

tape measure

tape measure (Photo credit: redjar)

In these days of flat-pack, off the shelf furniture whether it be from Ikea or Argos people seem to expect to get everything straight away, packaged, ready to go, as I’ve written about before.  Part of this expectation is the idea of things being “standard”.

People will ring up wanting a new double-glazed sealed unit and say “it’s just a standard one” without noticing that there’s often not two of the same size in the same house.  It’s the same with door locks and when you tell them they’ll have to measure sizes, thicknesses and so on they often seem most put-out by it – it’s just a standard lock, why don’t you stock them?  They assume that today everything must be a standard type or size and what they’ve got is, by definition, it.  As such we should be able to just pull a new sealed unit off the shelf.  We’d need a very, very big warehouse to do that, and a lot of time to fill it.

Admittedly there are many things that are to a standard specification in new-build houses but that doesn’t cover the last few hundred years of bricks and mortar.