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To Serve You Better


IT WASN’T the half-hour drive through traffic that got to me, nor even that they’d told me on the phone to come to that branch; or that, when I got there, it was plain to see, through the all-glass frontage, that the store had been shut for ages, furniture carried away, cobwebs everywhere.

No, it was the sign on the door: “As part of our commitment to excellence and our ongoing determination to serve you better, we have streamlined our operation…” The sign, without irony intended, painstakingly explained that the shutting down of that branch without notice was actually an outstanding form of customer treatment a snivelling little rat like me probably didn’t deserve.

And if that didn’t serve me better, it firetrucking well served me right: I should have known better than to do business with these firetrucking clowns.

But that sign!

You stand in front of a space as plainly as empty as the brains of the people running the operation and you then have to endure their own proud repackaging of their failure on every level as, not just success, but triumph. Their kicking you in the balls becomes, in their eyes, handling you with kid gloves. “As part of our commitment to excellence,” my foot!

Their “commitment to serve” was yet another reminder that the verb “to serve” means, not just what allegedly commercial enterprises fail to do for their customers, but also what the bull does properly to the cow; they served me well and good.

But, even as I stewed in my own annoyance, I admired their chutzpah.

And I wondered if other people mightn’t benefit from similar signs. Wouldn’t the current chief justice – invariably referred to in T&T media, nowadays, as “the embattled CJ” –be better served, if only he had a sign on the door to his chambers that read:

The current prime minister, too, could do with a sign, though he might get more benefit by embroidering it on his scarf than hanging it on his door.

The Minister of Works & Transport, too, could do with a self-aggrandizing sign on every ferry lying at the bottom of the Port of Spain dock:

Truly, they live to serve the public.

BC Pires is committed to excellence in avoiding real work. Read more of his writing at www.BCPires.com

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