A couple of incidents over the last couple of days have made me reconsider my approach to customer service. Maybe trying to be bright and breezy is the wrong approach. I’m taking lessons from these two incidents.
Number One: I decided to stop off and have a quick coffee and read. I’m in the midst of an amazingly good novel and work was unusually steady so I thought it would be pleasant. I was almost right.
I asked the Japanese lady behind the counter for a small decaffeinated latte and here’s what happened:
“You want big latte? Have BIG! Big is good. Is better, no?”
“Erm, no. Just a small one please.”
“OK, decon you say? DeeeCON! Decon?”
“Yes, a small decaff latte please.”
“NO! You have BIG. Is better big. No?”
She then proceeded to dollop a minute amount of coffee into a caffetiere and add a tiny amount of water. Leaving it to stand for approximately thirty seconds she then poured it into some hot milk and handed me a glass of steaming pale grey liquid.
“You want bacon? Bacon is good. Very good bacon.”
“No thank you.”
“CAKE! You having cake. OK?”
“No” I said firmly.
“Bacon? Is hot!”
“No cake, no bacon? What matter with you? You have right change? Is £1.80.”
I had the right change but the next customer wasn’t so lucky.
“Ten pound note? No chance mister. You go. No change.”
He left looking crestfallen. The latte was hideous but the entertainment value was priceless. I may go again. Looking round I noticed a massive sign on the wall made up of random words. It said “Smile! Crisp. Refresh. Crisp” It was professionally printed but I suspect she had either composed the sign or learnt English from it. I think I may love her.
Number Two: I took a taxi to see my psychotherapist the other day and the taxi driver was moderately talkative. Luckily he wasn’t too annoying and was actually kind of wholesome looking but diminutive. He’d worked as a translator and was actually fairly interesting to talk to, which was refreshing.
Last night I called another cab to take me to a friend’s house and it was the same driver. He tried to engage me in conversation about the Olympic torch which was a definite conversational cul-de-sac for me. Then he asked me about my day and asked if I was married, apropos of nothing,
“No, but I have a partner.”
“Do you live with her?”
“Actually it’s a he and we don’t live together yet.”
“Oh! You’re a gay. I like gays. They’re always such nice people. I’m not a prejudiced man. I have nothing against the gay at all.”
I’m not sure I agree that all gays are lovely. I’ve met a few rancid ones in my time.
“I hope this won’t offend you.” he said “but I was talking to a friend the other day and he told me that when he was on holiday he once got an amazing blow job from a gay man.”
I didn’t point out that this was perhaps an oxymoron and straight men don’t generally suck other men off.
“He told me that getting a blow job off a gay man is the best ever. He said they suck cock better than any woman. Is that true?”
I was non-committal.
“Perhaps one day I would like to try a blow job off a gay man. I would let a man suck my cock. Do you think I should?”
His eyes had taken on a strange gleam. I changed the subject back to the Olympic flame. It felt safer.
Maybe I’m doing something wrong. Maybe it’s the new way. I could try shouting at my patients and demanding they eat pork products or over priced cup cakes. I’m not sure it would go down well. I’m definitely not going to start hinting at fellatio. That’s never a good idea. I’ll stick to genteel inquiry and kindness. Much safer.