Friday, 9 December 2011

The Friendly Faces Of Frustration

First of all, I must apologise for not updating for over a week, over a week ago. After keeping such a tight schedule over the last few months, I understand that those of you with severe Aspergers will be upset by this break in routine. To them, I say sorry, and offer the excuse that I have recently started a new job.

Which leads me on nicely to today’s topic. As a result of my new employment I have started taking the train on a more frequent basis. When you board a train, a voice comes over the tannoy and starts to introduce you to all facets of the train and everyone in it.

“Good morning and welcome to this East Midlands train service. My name’s Richard, but you can call me Rick. I’ll be your train manager this morning. I’m here with your driver, Toby, and we are scheduled to arrive at our next station in approximately 15 minutes time. There’s a buffet car in coach C today for any light refreshments, and please be aware that there is a quiet zone in coach F, so please refrain from using mobile phones or making any unnecessary noise here. Please take some time to familiarise yourself with the safety posters on board and please retain all tickets as there may be a ticket barrier in operation when you leave the train. Make sure you keep your bags and belongings with you at all times and take care when stepping down from the train.”

Once Dickie Boy here has finished his little rant, it’s time to disembark. Then he’ll have repeat his speech for the benefit of any new passengers boarding the train. And thus the horrendous cycle of fake smiles continues.

This may be considered to be great customer service, but I don’t really give a flaked shit about who is driving this hunk of high speed container of human sardines, as long as they actually get us there without derailing into a ditch. By the time I’ve whizzed through every car reading every safety poster, nipped to the buffet car to have a look, then double, triple and quadruple checked I have my bags before paying a visit to the driver and train manager to introduce myself, have a cup of tea, and share a heart warming tale in which the driver rescues a dog from being hit by speeding train, I’m several hundred miles past my stop.

Many of the tannoy’s words simply fall on deaf ears, or at least, ears plugged with the sounds of thumping bass or whatever young ‘uns listen to these days. In this way, such long winded and polite train announcements seem pointless. They might as well reel off a long list of the passenger’s names and denounce them all as paedophiles, and still no one would pay any attention.

This sort of corporate chumminess is manifesting itself in more and more areas. Americanised customer service works very well in America, but here in Britain where your average citizen is a curmudgeonly sociopath with as much warmth as a meal at Little Chef, it doesn’t work. Many people seem to dislike this babyish pandering, especially when it feels as forced and artificial as it does here. Maybe it’s our accents that make us sound insincere and even outright sarcastic when trying to muster the energy for another platitude, yet Americans seem so breezy with it all that it is almost infectious.

Some people are just too demanding...

Branching out from this, every corporation is almost falling over itself to placate morons in exchange for money. Good customer rapport isn’t essentially new, but it is being rammed down our throats like never before. For example, I bought a bottle of milk from Farmfoods the other day. As the checkout lady scanned that milk, I noticed a message appear on the screen:

“Smile politely and ask the customer ‘Do you require any bags today?’”

It seems that even politeness is being scripted. But this is the way companies are working now.

A little while ago, I made an article called “Contact The Company” in which I emailed various businesses with outrageous demands, hoping to exploit this type of thing. Nearly every single one of them had an autoreply which basically acknowledges that they have received your email and that they’ll get back to you in due course. Thanks! It’s not as if I was expecting an instant reply from some poorly paid PR worker who has to trawl through endless dull emails about “your product made my cat sick”. I can understand that they have a lot of shit to wade through as though it’s a Parisian public restroom. The worst part about this automatically generated, faceless waste of inbox space was that it was just so damn nice! I wish they had the balls to reply back and say “Piss off and wait your turn”.

I suppose that whinging about how nice the world is puts things into perspective a little bit. If this is the worst my life has to offer, I’ll happy offer up more anaesthetised fury next time, probably about how much I hate getting static shocks off of escalators and lifts. Anyway, peace and chicken grease, y’all.  Please enjoy this short informational film about trains:


  1. "smile politely, and leave a response to blog-post."
    do you require any other compliments today with that sir? (he asked saccharinely)

    It was very amusing sir, please write again.

  2. I would enjoy trains much more if the follwing massage was barked out over the airwaves as everyone got on board...
    "OK you mouth breathing scum, get on - QUICKLY NOW! some of us have to be somewhere... sit down ISAIDSITDOWN! now everyone turn down your i-pods and put your phones on silent. feet on the floor and lets all get along. by the way there is a bin over there. use it!"

    hereth end my little rant.

    nice post.

  3. I give you all credit for not liking that kind of shit. I would much rather be denounced as a pedophile than listen to it myself, and speaking of which that creepy announcer fellow usually sounds like he could be one. Down with America.

  4. @Flip - I feel slightly patronised, but hey, I'll take compliments where I can find them!

    @Bumferry - I'd like to think that people automatically know how to behave on trains without disturbing others or holding everything up, but I think your plan would work better in reality.

    @Elliot - Thanks very much and welcome to the fold, paedophile!


Leave me a nice comment or die trying.