Surly, slapdash and dreadful, and that’s on a good day

I’m relieved to see that somebody in the UK is aware of the…….erm……..the lack of warmth in the ahem service professionals there. I wondered if it was just me.

No I didn’t really; instead I wondered if everybody there is crazy.

Surly, slapdash and dreadful. That’s how chef Michel Roux Jr sums up customer service in the UK.

“It’s not just in restaurants, you get bad service anywhere,” he says. “Even buying a newspaper you can find that you’re not even acknowledged. There’s no eye contact, no greeting or anything. Bad service is unforgivable and it’s everywhere in the UK.”

It’s true you know. It’s the surliness I can’t stand. Dignity would be all right; a polite reserve would be acceptable; but the surliness is truly awful. Buying a few harmless groceries at Waitrose leaves one feeling depressed and vaguely ashamed – as if one were an aristocrat walking on the faces of the poor merely because one wanted to buy some pasta sauce and the pasta to go underneath it.

Apparently they don’t even know they’re doing it – apparently they think that’s just how one acts.

One of the things that has shocked him most about making the show is how little some of the young people he has been working with know about basic courtesy.

“Just saying please and thank you, I was aghast that some of these kids found it very difficult even to utter those words,” he says. “There’s not much more basic in life than that, it’s simple upbringing. Whatever your background, courtesy matters.”

What a dreary picture that conjures up of their daily lives – with none of the tiny civilities that make social interaction pleasant instead of like an ugly highway to nowhere.

In Seattle it’s customary to say thanks to the bus driver when you get off. I love that.

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