Last week, this old, grizzled retired retail manager spent a few days back home in Belfast and, as is ingrained in my psyche, I can't help but observe standards of service in shops, cafes, hotels, restaurants, etc.
I cut my teeth working in Belfast shops and back in the dark and troubled days of the 1970s when I was a rookie manager in the late, lamented British Home Stores, one phrase, a service opener, was as common as bristles on a gooseberry. The phrase was: "Are you gettin'?", quite often instead of hello, good morning or whatever.
In my three days nipping in and out of various places, no one asked the question. Most of what I experienced in customer service environments was very pleasant - cheery hellos, smiles and, often, polite conversation.
I have long been a critic of lousy service and that proportion of service employees I dub as 'lemon-suckers', you know, those pursed-lipped, concave-cheeked, squinty-eyed, tight-nostrilled specimens hired to do a job they can't do or don't like or both.
Hats off to the many customer service people in Belfast last week. Not a lemon-sucker in sight. They may be somewhere and I just got lucky, but a big thumbs up.
I did have one irritation and that was the new opener that is creeping in, not just in Belfast, but elsewhere. The new opener: "Do you want a bag?"
I do miss: "Are you gettin'?" I bet even I, Mr Picky, said it many times all those years ago.
Have a nice day!