What has happened to politeness in this lovely little town of ours? In fact Ill extend that whats happened to it everywhere in England? Whilst the average man or woman in the street is usually friendly, nice and helpful with a quick smile and ready wit, in some cases it seems that when you put these people in a uniform their smiley attitude can quickly disappear.
Heres an example of this from last Friday: Myself and Mrs H took a number 6 bus to go and visit her parents who live in Owton Manor. As we boarded the bus at The Ramp I asked the driver for two to the Goldmine please. His reply was where? Thinking I hadnt been heard correctly I said again the Goldmine please. Where? He repeated again, tersely and irritably Catcote Road, just past Wynyard Road I explained. He then said nothing and simply hit a button twice on his ticket machine to dispense the tickets. I paid and thanked him when he gave me my change. He uttered not one word.
Whatever happened to sorry sir, I dont know where that is or Dont know it Im afraid -Wheres it near What a miserable, ignorant so-and-so! Being civil costs nothing. If I spoke to him without civility Im sure that he wouldnt have let me on the bus! Once again, put someone in a position of power and they think that they can behave as they like and if you dont like it as a customer then you can simply naff off as they dont care!
Heres a second example of what Im talking about: Two shop assistants in my local bakers were talking to each other whilst serving me and when I asked for a plastic bag to put my purchases in, which I was in the process of paying for, the girl nearest me just pulled one from a roll and literally threw it over the counter without looking (as if me being there was just an annoyance keeping her from talking to her equally vacuous colleague about babies, drugs, drink, boys, ASBOs or whatever it is young girls babble on about these days) – not at me or near me but just in my general direction whilst they carried on talking. It landed on the floor and I picked it up, packed my bag and left. I will never return. Even if their shop is the last bakers in Hartlepool. Perhaps it is a bit much to expect my bag to be packed for me but an acknowledgement that I existed and a simple there you go would have done. A smile would have been a bonus!
What a great week its been heres a third example: This time featuring that usual staple of crappy service the bored, monosyllabic checkout girl in the supermarket who looks bored and cant be bothered to be pleasant or helpful in any way. All I did was to ask one of these lovely specimens of humanity for a cardboard holder for wine bottles and she looked at me as if Id just crawled out of the primordial slime. She announced: we aint got none. I could clearly see another customer 2 checkouts away putting their wine bottles into one. When I politely pointed this out she just tutted loudly and flounced off to get some. It turned out that only she didnt have any at her till and was just too lazy to get off her bum and help someone (and for your info if you are reading this you useless excuse for a human – Its we havent got any or we dont have any NOT we aint got none – although I seriously doubt if you can read).
These examples have all been small fry so far. The topper for me this week happened at my doctors: Due to a slight admin mix up at the practice I was given a repeat prescription which contained one item only. The other 7 items were missing. No problem, I made the young ladies at reception who had just passed the script to me (two were consulting each other about what to do about this) aware of the problem and was told that the prescription containing the other items would be printed and signed and to take a seat whilst this happened. Again this sounded great to me, an instant fix to an unfortunate mix up.
I sat, and sat, and sat patients came in, saw doctors and nurses and went out again. Having sat for a full half an hour, I returned to the window to ask what was happening with my prescription and was told oh yes you were waiting for the sentence was left unfinished and Receptionist X walked to the printer opposite the Appointments window and I watched her lift my script from the printer and take it to be signed. She returned a very short while later with my signed script and gave it to me with a cheery there you go or some such statement. I politely asked if the script had been sat on the printer for half an hour and was told that we cannot disturb the doctors whilst they are in surgery, you have to wait. This did not answer my question so I tried another: Once again, I politely asked what would have happened if I had not returned to the window after thirty minutes would I still have been sat in the waiting room I was met with the same answer about not disturbing the doctors. I thanked her, left the surgery and upon arriving home immediately wrote a letter to the practice manager. Grrr. I await a reply with baited breath!
Am I the only person who wants to grab these people warmly by the throat or am I just a grumpy old man Perhaps I expect too much of people in customer service roles basic civility, a little care and efficiency, some pride in what they do and at least a little desire to help.
And of course all of these roles really are customer service jobs. A bus driver is a customer service guy who just happens to drive a bus; a checkout girl is a CS person who just happens to be tallying up the shopping etc etc.
Some of these people probably do occasionally have a tough time of it dealing with some of the less salubrious members of society; which probably influences their attitude towards the general public but that notwithstanding when they are not at work, these people are the general public and surely they like to be treated with a bit of civility (or am I making an assumption here that they arent just jumped-up, power crazed fascists).
Lets not put up with this low standard of service anymore. Wherever you are reading this, if you get bad service the least you can do is complain lets change the British way of not making a fuss into a complain every time ethos complain either immediately by mouth, by letter or email. You may get some satisfaction if you are lucky and if not, youve made yourself feel better by having a really good moan.