Bad vibrations in Morro Bay

August 6, 2023

Editor’s Note: The following series, “Life in Radically Gentrifying Cayucos by the Sea,” to be posted biweekly includes the notes, thoughts, and opinions of an original American voice: author Dell Franklin. 

Franklin’s memoir, “Life On The Mississippi, 1969,” is currently on Amazon.


The kid behind the check out counter at the hardware store did not look up or acknowledge me as I arrived with my one item and said, “Hello there, how’s it going?”

Generally, when I buy something at this hardware store, or any of the stores and markets in the area, the checkers are chipper and engaging, while those waiting on trade are always polite, friendly and helpful.

This kid, who appeared to be around 18 or 20, and was clean cut in a manner of the all American boy, was in a ponderous sulk, and continued to ignore me and look down as he ran my item through and announced the price and awaited the inserting of my credit card in the machine. When the transaction was completed, he did not thank me, still did not look up, and as I walked out of the store I was trying not to become angry and wondered what was bugging him.

The image I had of myself after this transaction was of a nobody who was invisible and worthy of no basic consideration whatsoever. I was jolted by the young man’s reaction. I’ve also come across young bartenders at a certain busy establishment in Morro Bay who seem glaringly un-solicitous and unconcerned with those awaiting drinks and offer no sign of appreciation of anybody’s business. I felt so ignored that I considered not tipping, but as an ex-bartender I just had to.

The attitude of the young female bartender was that of “doing me a favor” by simply waiting on me, and scooped up my dollar tip without a thank you or eye contact.

I began waiting on trade at 13 and was told that anybody who came in to make a purchase was “special.” I was told that any person who made a purchase was paying our bills and allowing business to thrive and provide a livelihood for the owner and his employees, and that each customer deserved instant service and extreme catering, even if he or she was excessively difficult. I was told that the personal aspect of business was just as important as the money being made, and that waiting on trade as a young person was “an education.”

The man who told me all these things was my father, who owned a small business in Compton, California, and emphasized that he had grown up in the great Depression when jobs were scarce and people were desperate for any kind of work, and I should appreciate any job I had and give 100% no matter how much I got paid because if I didn’t, somebody else would take my place and I might not be able to find a new job in the real world and would go hungry.

“Dog-eat-dog, kid.”

Thus, I spent my life waiting on trade and was trained to “hump and cater.”

So, has anybody talked to this kid in the hardware store?

But then, trying to place myself in the kid’s shoes, it suddenly hit me with a huge exclamation why this kid was so detached and sour: Maybe policy in this large corporate store forbade employees to carry personal cell phones while at work.

The poor persecuted kid was having withdrawal symptoms, like a drug addict!

How unbearably excruciating it must be for this kid not to be able to text or call his girlfriend or friends about how excruciatingly bored he was, or just plain be on his phone when he was not checking people in and out. I’m sure, also, his girlfriend and various friends were upset they couldn’t exchange texts or send images and photos or talk to him and commiserate with his bottomless despair.

After all, it’s summer and his friends are out playing and yakking and texting while he’s trapped in this awful place where busy working-class nobodies are buying supplies with which to ply their trades.

Understanding all this, I felt better about myself after being so completely ignored, because it was not personal. I was just another nobody among a steady stream of nobodies adding to his misery.

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I have to agree with Dell here. But growing up with social media has put this generation at a big disadvantage when it comes to communicating in person. I think it’s even worse for a kid when having to deal with an older stranger. Not to mean you are strange Dell, at least not exceptionally so. I do think getting their attention and trying for a laugh is always helpful. But do hate that the response to “thank you” is now “no problem”.

Damn kids…

I like your content Dell, but wow that’s a lot of sweeping conclusions and judgements based on one or two interactions. Everyone is allowed to have bad days. Or even bad months and years. Your point is taken but holy moly don’t be so quick to judge. No one has the right unless walked in their shoes – and even then judging is a rather crass way to spend time.

And here I thought this was going to be about Quintana Road. Truly bad vibes there…

There is a bias of looking at old folks as if they are loosing capacity. Use it to advantage.

Or maybe the kid just had a bad day – seems like sweeping judgement is premature.

Oh, let me help; it’s because people your age have destroyed the planet then have the nerve to criticize the younger doomed generation.

Dell, I totally agree. Customer service working retail or “a public” type job has totally changed since I was working…. yeah, back in the olden days. Nothing pisses me off more than giving a young clerk $20 for example for a 11.79 item and they plop the change in my hand. It appears nobody teaches these young people how to count change back to the customer. They have no clue… I blame the employer.

Give the kids a break. Do you remember the lockdown we just went through? Do you think it might have affected their socialization? Big first world problem.

It used to be the customer that was the straw that stirred the drink. Unfortunately these are not isolated cases but has become the norm. Human interaction has gone by wayside to the unanimity of hiding behind the screen.