Tuesday, October 16, 2018

"I Feel So Used"

I am thinking of the word – that I just made up – “misrespected.”

Not disrespected.  Misrespected.

Let me explain with two examples, one of which happened recently at the Ranch.

But first the other one, that didn’t.

Santa Monica Place is a three-floor shopping mall in the commercial area of our beautiful beach town.  It’s celebrated claim to fame is that, early in his career, the world-famous architect Frank Geary designed its elevated parking facility.  

Veryearly in his career.  

“Mr. Geary, which of your architectural achievements are you most proud of?”

Disney Hall and the Santa Monica Place elevated parking facility.”


Or, on second thought, possibly “Yes.”  Not for its architectural uniqueness, but for its consummate efficiency.  Of course, you can say that about all elevated parking facilities.  Which makes them no less impressive as “logistical masterpieces.”  

I am in awe of elevated parking garages.  They’re like a “Vertical Maze.”  You go up, other people efficiently go down on the ramp right beside you.  How do they figure that stuff out?  I get completely stymied restocking the refrigerator, till I’m told, “Just turn the thing sideways and it’ll fit.” 

Anyway… I mean, take a look at them some time, they’re amazing!

Anyway, again, after an unnecessary interruption…

At some point, the Santa Monica Placeshopping mall gets sold, and the incoming regime decides to radically “repurpose” the property.  The company has received preliminary approval to build a 30-floor – precariously high for ”Earthquake Country” – condo complex on top of the three-floor mall shopping area.  (Which would be extremely convenient for condo residents, wishing to buy stuffed potatoes in their pajamas.)

The local community is not happy with this project.  More cars. More congestion.  Blocked views of the ocean.  (Not to mention the colorful “Cha-Cha Chicken” shack.)  And a challenging change to what the city of Santa Monica is traditionally “all about.”  

The developers want “Peace in the Valley.”  (Plus, paying customers in the mall.)  So they schedule an air-clearing, “Public Meeting.”

The word goes out:  

“We want to hear what the community has to say.”

Though by a meaningful margin, what the community “has to say” is, 

“Do not build that monstrosity in the middle of our city.”

Not sure what will happen, we dutifully attend the “Public Meeting” and, at first, everything’s real nice. There is coffee, as well as a generous assortment of cheese and crackers.  (No mixed nuts, developers being on particularly tight budgets.)

“We’re hear to listen,” we are collegially informed.   

As we almost immediately infer, however, they were not there to listen to our objections to the planned elevated eyesore.  It was “Everything’s on the table… except get over it, we’re doing this.”  

What the meeting essentially boiled down to was a solicitation of ideas for, like, enhancing the landscaping.

“Petunias or begonias – It is entirely up to you.”

In the end, the developers’ uncaring behavior leaves the meeting’s attendees angry, frustrated and ripped off.  (And therefore fully justified in secreting leftover cheese and crackers home in their pockets.) 

The developers felt demonstrably vindicated in their intentions.   They had – in fact, if not in deed – “listened” to the community.

(Postscript: The Santa Monica Place“High Rise” never got built.  Though I believe that was a coincidence.)  


In a recent policy instituted at Rancho La Puerta, guests who have accumulated twenty Ranch visits, or more  - like 37 – are invited by the Ranch’s directors to a private dinner – with wine – where we are encouraged to make observations, comments and suggestions about how to improve visitors’ experience at the Ranch.

“We’re here to listen.”

And listen, they unquestionably do.

Being the unselfish person I am, I relate a story, not about myself, but about a  woman, age 78, who, though she’d been coming for years, revealed her growing reluctance to return to the Ranch, because its hikes and exercise classes now exceeded her current physical abilities.  I had also witnessed a clearly infuriated woman in her 80’s being admonished by her daughter, who said, 

“Mom, the instructors said, ‘Don’t push it.’  You have to go at your own pace.”

She was (understandably) infuriated because she had wanted to competitively keep up with the class, and she couldn’t.

With these telling anecdotes in mind, I propose the idea of scheduling “Emeritus” hikes and classes, consistent with the capacities of the “Senioring” visitors to the Ranch.

The Ranch administrators patiently hear me out, and then defensively say, “No.”  Not just to me, but to every suggestion brought up. (“Invariably, what some people complain about, others enjoy.”)    

Of course, “listening” does not necessarily mean agreeing.  But it should at least mean, “We’ll think about it.”  (Because mine was a reasonable proposal, all around.  Ignoring the aging “Visitor Demographic” was, or shortly would be, costing them business.)  

Like the equally stiff-necked television networks, the Ranch covets a younger “Visitor Demographic”… that is assiduously not coming. Is that not then more reason to better serve the “Visitor Demographic” that is?

I know old people eventually die (which is also bad for business.)  But if their needs are deliberately accommodated, the advancing “New Old” will get wind of it, and eagerly repopulate the ranks.  

Bottom Line:  I don’t care if you listen.

Just don’t pretend that you want to.


They say they respect you.

But they miss.

No comments: