Sunday, December 14, 2008

back with a rant

..as opposed to 'back with a bang' or however the saying probably goes.  You wouldn't expect any less, really, would you?

Getting down to business, I've had a few experiences recently in which I've been very frustrated by the selfish and unhelpful attitudes of some people in what I would term 'customer facing' roles.  Some might say that this is nothing new, but it has annoyed me nonetheless.

For my first example, we'll head to Three Bridges station, because tradition dicates that I should talk about something train-related once in a while.  Last week, I was on the platform at said station and I saw the electronic sign which told me that the train I had hoped to catch was 'Delayed'.  

Maybe it was unreasonable of me to have wanted to find out some more details, but approaching the Southern employee outside the door marked 'Information' seemed like a logical step to take.  He couldn't tell me how long the delay was, but did go to great lengths to explain that this wasn't his fault.  Apparently the man in the information room on the other platform wasn't responding to his queries for information.  I think "pathetic" is a fitting term to use here.

Anyway, because my train was delayed (perhaps indefinitely - who knew at this point?) I had time on my hands and decided that I could spare a bit of it to head through the subway and speak to the man in the information room myself.  It was better than standing out in the cold, but turned out to be a complete waste of time.  Information Room Man stuck his head out of the door to read the sign I had already read, told me that he "had no more information" and then just ignored me.  How. Rude.

I don't know about you, but in a world where jobs are increasingly at a premium I'm amazed that Southern couldn't find someone who knows what Customer Service is to work at the Information Desk.

Moving on, I went to a wedding yesterday (which, incidentally, I very much enjoyed).  On the way there we encountered a road block, comprising a bit of tree across one carriageway, and a Fire Engine across the other one.  After watching the firemen sweep randomly around the branch for a while I got out of the car and walked to the front of the queue to ask how much longer they were going to be.

"We've just got to move this bit," came the response from one of the firemen as he pointed towards the offending bit of tree.  This wasn't an especially satisfactory response, given that all they'd ever had to do was "move that bit."  I can't say that I was too enamoured with his manner, either.

I then proceeded to ask why he couldn't move the Fire Engine and let the policemen who were present direct the traffic past.  Apparently it's because they're "not allowed to work when there are cars coming past".  For the second time, "pathetic" is the word.


What really gets to me though is the fact that the sense of helping other people seems to have been completely lost.  It's actually really quite selfish, and it's a real shame that beauracy and an unhelpful attitude has developed such a tendancy to get in the way.

In the case of the railways, I know that the flow of information is not always good.  In the case of clearing the road, I understand that some precautions have to be taken.  But what happened to common sense?  What happened to being friendly and apologising to the passengers stood out in the cold?  What happened to appearing to make an effort? Since when did people have all day to sit around in a queue of traffic whilst four blokes ponce around with a broom?  Why was taxpayers money used to buy fluorescent suits which could be seen from outer space when those who wear them aren't allowed to go near a moving car anyway?

I could go on, but rather than pose any more questions, I shall answer the one which is bound to be on everybody's mind.  I did make it to the church on time.  


Just.





3 comments:

andrew said...

Jim,

not strictly on topic, but i was hoping for some thoughts on the two recent "right to die" cases in the media spotlight.

How does faith lead to morality and legality in these matters?

thought i'd throw that in to the mix.

Anonymous said...

Well then James, you'll be pleased to know that I'm being very 'smiley, happy, polit, help the customer!' in my new job. Even when thy do ask stupid questions like how do i make my toddler poo in the toilet!!
Maria

dave said...

Save religion and politics, I usually agree with you on everything JP. It just so happens that you talk about religion and politics a lot.

However, I don't disagree with this post, I find it quite upsetting. Once upon a time in a train station there was a man enquiring to quite a few train staff as to why the train was late, none of them could help him, leading to him getting quite irate. Eventually I said to him, "I'm really sorry mate, we're all going to be late, but even if we did have the reason as to why we were late it wouldn't reduce how late we were going to be." You should chill more, life is to be enjoyed JP, you shouldn't let yourself get worked up by such little things. There are enough really really bad things in life that will really upset you without you making yourself upset over nothing.

As for the firemen: you make good points, but I see a hole. I wager that once upon a time flourescent firemen were allowed to work with cars going past, then a nasty accident happened where a fireman got killed. Someone in a newspaper/blog/letter said that the firemen were working to protect us and so we should protect them, new guidelines etc etc etc etc.

Take a chill pill. Merry Christmas