For Want of a Nail, a Shoe was Lost
Oct 22, 2013 | 1219 views | 0 0 comments | 288 288 recommendations | email to a friend | print
There is an old saying which many of us learned in school. It speaks of the consequences of small failures, and how they can result in massive failures.

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.

For want of a shoe the horse was lost.

For want of a horse the rider was lost.

For want of a rider the message was lost.

For want of a message the battle was lost.

For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.

And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

A horse lost a shoe because a nail was missing. Those who have seen a farrier painstakingly replace and maintain a horse's shoes knows the important of having good, well balanced shoes on a horse. If the job is lacking, the horse's utility is likewise limited.

In this proverb, which is known to be at least 800 years old, the horse is lost to the missing nail, resulting in a rider being lost, resulting in his important message being lost, resulting in a battle lost, culminating in the kingdom being lost.

Today we refer to such things as unintended consequences. A small act can result in huge changes, most of them unintended.

I have bought my groceries for almost a decade at a local store which belongs to a chain native to East Texas. Even though its prices are higher than the larger chains, even though its selections are not as vast as its larger competitors, I have been a loyal customer.

I have been there buying groceries twice a week, or about a hundred times a year. The employee turnover is high. The quality of employees is low. In the military we would have said they have "a low give a (flip) factor." Sometimes they simply don't seem to care whether customers find what they need.

I'm not one to complain often at places I do business, but when I complain at a store I have frequented for years, I expect to be heard and I expect action to follow. What I don't expect is a bored look which fails to even register the matter, or do anything about it.

I love pico de gallo and consume a couple of containers of it a week. Several months ago, I noticed that half the containers of pico de gallo I bought at my local store would ruin in the refrigerator in one or two days. This was a marked difference from my experience for years, during which I never had such a problem. After it happened four weeks in a row, my conclusion was that they must be relabeling older containers with "new" expiration dates. Otherwise, how does an allegedly fresh container go bad in less than forty eight hours?

I dutifully brought the matter to the attention of store management, which has seen me coming and going there for years, always pleasant and never complaining about anything. They denied any such thing could have happened, with no apparent attempt to find out whether mine was a correct assessment.

And just like that, they lost a customer who had spent over $40,000 in that store over the past decade. That's the price of failing to be responsive to a good customer. That's the nail which caused this particular horse to stumble, this particular rider to be lost, and this particular store to lose one more customer it cannot afford to lose.

© 2013, Jim “Pappy” Moore, All Rights Reserved.

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