Friday, August 27, 2004

Why I dislike the country-that-won't-be-named Part 1

(Yes, part 1. I've decided to make it a series).

What brought this series on?

The straw that broke the camel's back was last night.

I went out to a restaurant for a few beers with good food that I frequently patronise at lunchtime. I had two on the patio, then moved in to the lounge because it was getting cold. I met a couple from North America and we started talking. I finished my beer and ordered another one. An hour later, I was given a bill for four (they had been drinking wine and had paid for it before that). I questioned it and was told that I had drunk two outside and two inside, which was totally wrong. It turns out that the reason they had charged me for four, was because the waiter had heard me tell the the couple (who had asked about it) that we round up to the nearest Euro here, not tip 25% like they do back home and the waiter had been expecting (after hearing their North American accents). I told the manager if she was the desperate for my extra € 3.30, she could have it (and she took it).

I won't be going there again, which is a shame because I really liked the food and atmosphere.

Anyway, Part 1 of the series:

People are very cold unfriendly here. They eye each other suspiciously as they walk down the street with blank stares on their faces. If they bump into someone, 'Sorry' is rarely said, they just glare at each other. Heaven forbid people would actually smile at each other. If that happens, people think, 'What do you want from me?'

A few weeks ago as I was walking into the supermarket, I glanced to my left and saw someone smiling at me. It's such a rare occurrence in this country that I got scared! It turned out to be one of my students (that I like).

Customer service people are so unfriendly here that it makes the words 'customer' and 'service' oxymorons when used in the same sentence. In most shops, including supermarkets, and restaurants they treat you like you're inconveniencing them as they launch your purchases off the end of the belt and glare at you while you put them in your trolley.