Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Water Torture

My daughter, Susannah, emigrated to fame and fortune in England nine months ago and has never looked back, in all senses of the word.

But now she's undergoing the slow water torture that is the English idea of customer service. Basically, when an island that's smaller than Ontario is crammed with 66 million people, if you're in business and your service stinks, just shrug--another customer will be by in a few minutes. Nobody gives a rat's patoodie about what their employees are up to; there's no accountability.

It's a constant source of amazement that tourists would pay good money to go there and be subjected to this foolishness. I go only because I have relatives over there. My last visit was plagued by this constant low background level of indifference--plus the total inability to procure anything like a good cup of coffee.

Flying back in to YUL was like a pleasant dream--smiles all round, strangers--and airport staff--being gratuitously helpful. I still get choked up when the winter CN train pulls in to the station, looking like an apartment block on wheels that's just rolled in off the steppes, with that anachronistic bell clanging away, and the attendant brushing the piles of snow off the train steps with a ridiculous little corn broom.

This summer I'm taking the train all the way across Canada, stopping in Jasper for a long weekend. Like the Orient Express--one of the last great romantic train trips. And you know what? The customer service will be brilliant.

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