I was reading an article about the irritating phenomenon of companies sending texts and smiley faces. You know the sort of thing – thank you for your comment :) Missing you already :( If you haven’t had one of those, perhaps you should be online more often. Try getting out less. Anyway, as the journalist commented, what you really want is an efficient service, not a buddy. I know what she means.
Some while ago I remember complaining about poor service. I think it still happens actually – where a waitress comes to take your order but has no idea when you ask what the Soup of the Day is. Of course we all know the real reason for this; ‘soup of the day’ is actually yesterday’s left over bits and pieces blitzed into a liquid. And at some stage the chef will used them all up and start serving up some other soup. But still, a good server could always ask before going to the table.
But actually I think service has improved. It’s as though everybody in the service industry has suddenly been on a course or read a ‘Service for Dummies’ book. Waiters always return to ask how your meal is. I’ve complained twice recently and had my bill slashed by half. At this rate I’ll be able to go out to dinner without taking out a bank loan. And you always get a questionnaire when you buy something or visit something.
It’s only my wife who receives text messages – ‘roots and ends 4.30 Tuesday’, ‘blow-dry 09.00 Wednesday’, ‘car park at the back of M&S this afternoon :)’, etc. They’re all from her hairdresser I think. But I do receive far too many emails asking me about things I’ve been doing. ‘How did you enjoy your journey on the train, Neil?’, ‘Neil, how would you characterise your experience in our hotel?’, ‘hey Neil, how can we add to your watching pleasure?’ Apart from the fact that it all sounds as though I’ve just been away on a naughty weekend, it is also rather over-chummy. It’s a bit like Facebook without you actually having to do anything. I wonder if there’s some way to count my new business friends and add to my status. Or maybe to send South West Trains an elephant for their zoo (they could use it to clear obstructions off the line).
On Friday afternoon, the sun came out and I went to Hemingways and sat on their patio in the sun. I was half-way through my cappuccino, when this rather attractive waitress came out and asked if there was anything else she could do for me. Now there’s a buddy I wouldn’t mind, I thought. She was only about a quarter of my age too. But after staring at my open mouth for a while she went away. I nearly had such a great riposte too. But what in fact did she mean? Can she have read the same instruction manual as Premier Inns? Maybe she meant, ‘is there anything else you’d like on our table, Neil?’ Or maybe ‘what can I do to enhance your sipping pleasure?’