Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Hungry Cowboy

Mary Challender at the Des Moines Register has a great piece on UPM author Karla Erickson. Erickson is the author of The Hungry Cowboy: Service and Community in a Neighborhood Restaurant.

The article covers Erickson's inspiration behind The Hungry Cowboy, the real life restaurant described in the book, and her transformation from a jaded sociologist to a compassionate restaurant insider.

During the day, in academia, all she heard about was how fragmented the world was becoming and how isolated people were."But at night I would go to the restaurant, put on an apron and be in a social world," she said. "People showed up all night just to enjoy each other's company.

The article also explores Erickson's latest research project-- the relationships between the elderly and the people paid to care for them. A topic she considers to be very similar to restaurant service industry.
I really believe we have a choice any time we have a service interaction to treat each other like machines or to treat each other as people.

Erickson is assistant professor of sociology at Grinnell College. The Hungry Cowboy is now available from UPM.

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