The Service-Cycle Comes Full-Circle

I am old enough to remember a simpler time – the time before electronics and the information age took over our lives. Those were the days of “personal-service”. Live telephone operators, gas station attendants (who pumped gas!), car hops, the milk-man, door-to- door sales, travel agents, and doctors who made house-calls, etc.

Gas stations were not open on Sunday, but the attendant would check your oil and wash your windows while filling your tank. There were no ATMs so you had to get cash during banking-hours, but there were plenty of tellers and bankers so you did not have to stand in line. It was reasonably convenient.  Reasonable is the operative word here. Over the years, I observed these old-fashioned personal-services disappearing and being replaced by a self-service model. The shift was subtle, but the cumulative result has been staggering.

At some point, we entered the age of “self-service” which this generation might consider “convenient”.  I don’t think there is anything convenient about having to do everything yourself, even if the tools are handy and available 24 hours a day. In my opinion, it is modern-day conveniences that allowed life and work demands to become out of balance and unreasonable – forcing most Americans to live with increasing stress-loads.


One could ask, “Which came first, the need to automate or the availability of automation”. It was probably simultaneous. When these conveniences did not exist, people simply took care of business during standard business hours and after-hours was personal, family and household time.

It may be that the emerging generation will be able to leverage technology to its benefit and gain some sort of efficiency. But so far, I have noticed the more information we can process, the more we tend to cram into a day and the longer the business day becomes. If that is the case, this generation may sacrifice real human connection by automating it. Career and entrepreneurial aspirations might lose ground to playing catch-up domestically.

In any case, it seems that the service-cycle has come full-circle and personal-service is making a comeback. There are increasing businesses offering to deliver groceries, walk dogs, cut grass, provide laundry and handy-man services, wash your windows and even trim your house for the holidays! It isn’t quite the same, though. Some of those activities used to be enjoyable family time together. Now we are “outsourcing” our non-work- related activities. I am not sure this will give people more time to enjoy life. We need to simplify – for some thoughts on simplification watch for my Q-Note #1  (coming soon).