Learning from history 


(Recently) I went to the biographical movie, “Oppenheimer,” about the building of the atomic bomb (beware parents, it is an “R” rated film).   

New Mexico has a special place in that story because the atomic bomb was developed and tested here. The film raises some thought provoking questions as … Aug. 6 was the 78th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, the first of only two times a nuclear bomb has been used against an adversary. 

Part of the story of “Oppenheimer” is the dispute over whether the United States should or should not have used the atomic bomb on Japan. This is not a new question; my father, part of the Baby Boomer generation, tells me when he was in school, he was assigned a class essay on that very question. He was the only one in his class to argue the U.S. made the right decision — and he was decades closer to the mushroom cloud of Hiroshima and the horrors of World War II. 

For me, the atomic bomb is something personal. My grandfather is a World War II Navy veteran. He served about a year at the end of World War II.   

History is in general agreement that if the atomic bomb had not been used, the alternative was an invasion of Japan’s main islands. That would have cost many lives on both sides.   

My grandfather might have been drawn into that invasion. Perhaps he would have been killed, and I would never have been born. His family would have looked very different after the invasion than it does now. I am not the only one in this position: without the atomic bomb I might not be here. 

That does not make the dropping of the atomic bomb good. History is not good just because it is how we got here; history is replete with atrocity. We should not declare history good just because it is our history — but whether we decide our history is good or bad, we should learn from it. We may have to make world-changing decisions of our own. 

 Jonathan Gardner 

Los Lunas

Lack of customer service 


Grocery shopping: Los Lunas is fortunate to have several major choices. Given competition, you might think that all of them would be eager to get our business and provide excellent service.  

Not so. Smiths (owned by Kroger) supermarket’s customer service has been slipping for some time. I have noticed its management appears to have an aversion to making the checkout process customer friendly.  

For example, on repeated Saturday mornings, one of the busiest shopping days of the week, Smith’s only provides one cashier, regardless of how many customers are waiting in line.  For some customers with a large cart of groceries, self-checkout is cumbersome and for others simply undesirable.  

Smith’s is obviously eager to reduce its payroll costs by steering customers to self-checkout machines … And even with the push for customers to use self-checkout, it is not uncommon for one or more of Smith’s machines to be out of service or to only accept credit or debit cards.  

Meanwhile, nearby, Albertsons has a standing policy to quickly add additional cashiers if more than three customers are in line. I see the dichotomy between Albertsons approach to customer service and Smith’s time and time again.  

I have even found at times that Walmart is more customer friendly in deploying cashiers than Smith’s.  

When I have mentioned my concerns to Smith’s employees, the response is that management has not scheduled more employees at that time. You might think that Smith’s management was more nimble or wise enough to anticipate or adjust to peak shopping times.  

To me, this tone-deaf attitude toward its customers indicates that Smith’s may have serious management problems.  

 James Rickey 

Los Lunas 

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