I am just back from the States and it was, as ever, fabulous.
I was struck this time around by the excellence of the service. I have to disclose straight away that I spent an awful lot of time at various Disney theme parks and they do service very well indeed. But it’s not just Disney – making you feel as though nothing is too much trouble seems to be a national preoccupation.
It started at a toll booth coming in on the highway from Orlando airport, when a passer-by stopped to help us. Needless to say we had no change and the booth was unmanned. I was paranoid that we were about to be robbed but the guy just pulled over to give us some friendly advice (drive through the check point without paying) – we’ll see how that one works out!
Elsewhere, staff in shops and servers in restaurants were impeccably polite and helpful as was anyone remotely connected to the Disney corporation – of course.
By contrast, only yesterday while ordering a complicated list of sandwiches in a local pub I felt as though the woman behind the bar was deliberately trying to humiliate me. I’m sure she wasn’t – but the way she kept questioning my order and smirking left me feeling as though I was undergoing some sort of exam. Do I want the bacon hot or cold? Do I want butter on the bread? Isn’t there always butter on the bread in sandwiches? Why am I being asked this question?
We are such a cynical nation – full of self-deprecation and sarcasm, perhaps we don’t deserve American levels of service. Goodness knows, I celebrate our humour and the determination not to take life too seriously but unless we square up to the metaphorical bar and look that server in the eye, there’s always the risk someone will be smirking at you.