Friday, July 17, 2009

Couple of observations

So I always notice things when I go back to the states. Things that either I forgot were part of the culture or that stand out as something new. I've noticed this before but what really stood out this time was the difference in customer service. Well not really the service per se, but how it is rendered. The faked ebullience when greeted is so jarring. Maybe because here in Quebec there's a lot of surliness, I don't know. But when we finished placing our order at Islands (and we were a terrible four-top, grandma had a soup and my dad split a burger with his wife) the server exclaimed, "Awesome!" People were just so gall darn glad to see us enter their place of business too. Fakity fake fake fake. I suppose this is what is expected now though. I found it a bit irritating.

It reminded me of a job long ago, the only one in which I got fired, where we had to answer the phone with something like, "Thank you for calling RJ's home of the all you can eat Sunday brunch and Monday night football clam bake, how may I help you!" You had to shout it or the person on the phone would cut you off.

The other thing I noticed and forgot all about - personal injury lawyer advertising. It's simply everywhere. Talk about creating a society of victims. I kept seeing the ads with lawyers touting how much they wrang out of the insurance companies because it's the big bad insurance companies taking advantage of you, and I just kept thinking now who was taking advantage of whom. TV ads certainly aren't free.

The climate was spectacular though and I wouldn't mind wintering in the Southwest someday. A little cottage out in Palm Springs would suit me just fine. They are calling for a harsh and snowy winter this year which makes me laugh because, well, aren't they ALL harsh and snowy?

Alright enough blathering. I've got 2500 blog posts in my queue to catch up on (don't expect 2500 comments) and we've got to clean up for the little bbq party we're throwing tomorrow. Monday I start a new full time contract so my summer vacation is officially over. Wah- Wahhhh.


CoffeeDog said...

The fact that there are personal injury lawyers advertising everywhere really made me worry when I had my accident. My least favorite ad was "In a wreck, get a check."

I agree that the mentality here is questionable at time.

Laverne said...

The fake-friendly thing gets me too, but on the other hand, I am a very friendly person. I'll talk to people in line at the store, ask another woman's opinion in the dressing room, all of that. I've been told that Americans are seen as fake because of this, but there's another reason it's so ingrained.

Back in the day, when your closest neighbor might be two miles down the creek, you needed all the friends you could get; especially when there was trouble. I think that frontier mentality brought us to where we are now. If you think about Europe, and especially England, people have been crowded in and on top of each other for centuries. It makes sense to keep to oneself, since there was so little privacy to begin with. And so, that's where the Brits get their reputation as standoffish.

Just my thoughts.

GayProf said...

It's a hard call: Would I rather have faked friendliness or honest surliness? Not sure. . .

Patricia said...

I think there's a difference between fake friendliness and sincerely-trying friendliness. I don't mind the extra effort that smacks of I'm going out of my way to be helpful and I'm hoping you'll reward me with a fat tip because it usually means a more pleasant experience.

I'll take that over snarly any day.

Palm Springs is going to be 115 today. My MIL lived there for years and she could hardly endure the summers.

Rox said...

OMG you want friendly? You should come here to Peaceful Town. At first we thought it was fake because it was SO friendly, but then you come to realize it's just the people here. After living somewhere where there is no such thing as service, it's refreshing.

2500?! Hoy! See you next Wednesday! :o)

Greg said...

Lately the restaurant business hereabouts is off, in a fairly big way.

This could cause you to be greeted with either A)great enthusiasm, or 2) a touch of annoyance that you've shown up just when the staffer was getting hopeful about a useless shift being euthanized.

That said, I always prefer a little sincerity. You can't get sued for that, can you? Have a great BBQ!!

Jonathan said...

De-lurking to share a story, because the fake super friends are no longer confined to restaurants and retail.

My partner and I were apartment-hunting. All the leasing agents were polite and helpful (except one), but two agents - from two different leasing offices - were exceptionally friendly.

They were the "wow guys, that is so totally awesomely cool, doods" type of customer service reps. The ones who are so "mellow" and "cool" that you don't know whether to conduct business or consume controlled substances with them.

Bizarre, to say the least.

wcs said...

Fakity fake fake fake. That's awesome!

Annoys the heckity heck heck heck out of me, too.

Rick Bettencourt said...

At least she tried. Here on the east coast, I always notice the difference between snotty northeastern-ers, who you are bothering when you want something, to the friendly southerners. I haven't traveled since the recession but I wonder if that's impacted the north's demeanor for the better -- grateful to have a job.

Birdie said...

Gosh darn perky people get no encouragement from me, but at least they pay attention to me. When I had to get a new phone, the kid was flirting with me, and I am old enough to be his mother. He treated me like I was an idiot who knew nothing. If I could have found someone else to help me, I would have.

I used to train salespeople. If you're in it for the long haul, you want your customer to come back and to recommend you. You have to be knowledgeable, honest and friendly. Sometimes I wonder how some salespeople make a living.

Enemy of the Republic said...

There is snarliness and there is outright rudeness that crosses boundaries. In Philly, people are fairly snarly, but I've learned to deal with it, even make a joke at them and then we become paisanos. Working with the public just sucks as you know from the bartending/server days. Some people, like my husband and brother in law, are just born to work with the public as they fit the criteria you name.

The personal injury notices have grown because the economy stinks and people want a quick fix. Whenever I watch a channel filled with those kinds of ads, I figure they must have me in the demographic called white trash.

lattégirl said...

I don't think ordering soup should be greeted with the pronouncement that it's "awesome!" But I suppose serving staff get the Standard Fakity Fake Fake Training that most American restaurants seem to dispense. Frankly, it makes me gag inwardly, but I fake it right back with a huge, bright smile.

Another ex-Californian said...

Ha! No kidding. Fake ebullience in Southern California has a long and proud hi$tory.

A few months after I'd moved from Chicago to Costa Mesa, my best friend from Chicago came to visit me for a week. At the end of the second day, she threw up her arms in exasperation and demanded, "What is it with these retarded people?! 'Haveaniceday, haveaniceday, haveaniceday!' If I hear one more 'haveaniceday!' I'm going to cram a fist down somebody's f*cking throat: 'Here's your "haveaniceday," you moronic asswipe!'"

That was in the summer of 1975, by the way.

Mark in DE said...

Sometimes I wonder if that fake-sounding enthusiasm is a server's way of keeping him/herself from saying "Fuck my life".

Welcome home.