Old fashioned

I’m old fashioned to a point. I believe in manners, chivalry, that prints and plaids do not mix no matter what Lucky (or Harper’s for that matter) is trying to tell you. I also believe in common courtesy, which should manifest itself both inside the store and out on the sidewalks.

There’s no doubt that customer service in retail and restaurant establishments is waning. What used to be expected is now surprising if you actually receive it. When we lived in Hampton, Virginia we gave up on the notion of someone actually caring about how we, as the customers, were doing. And Virginia is still supposed to be in the south. They had forgotten about southern hospitality a long time ago. This is why I’m in love with Chick Fil A by the way. In the restaurants I’ve been in it didn’t matter if your server was 16 or 86, they served you with a smile and made sure you were taken care of. Amazing in this day and age. And they have some kickin’ sweet tea.

We moved out west to Missouri and were surprised at the courtesy we received almost everywhere. Going above and beyond for the customer is still alive and well in at least one small town out there. Montgomery, Alabama was a mixed bag. Some places cared about you. Some places couldn’t care less.

I was coming to the conclusion that population size of the greater metropolitan area is inversely proportional to the quality of customer service you receive. However, I haven’t been able to apply that assumption to the customer service I’ve received so far in the greater DC area. We’ve already eaten out at more restaurants here than we did in both AL and MO combined (give or take one or two…or ten) and everyone has been nice. It might have something to do with the fact that they are fleecing you with the food prices and they know it. Even the museum volunteers were happy to help us out. Well, except for that one man who made me stand forward one extra foot so the humongous amount of foot traffic (read: absolutely none) could pass through the smallish corridor I was supposedly hogging up. But other than his little gesture, everyone has been great.

What I have noticed though is that the common courtesy of acknowledging the other human beings in your immediate area with maybe a smile or a head nod is completely lacking up here. Du recounted to me his bus/metro ride into work the other day and it included mad, unhappy people hating their day as they trudged through it. Not one person smiled at him. We went to the grocery store the other day and the only way I was going to get people to look at me was if I were to don a clown suit and start juggling. And only then would they gesture knowingly at the poor woman who’s lost her mind. It’s as if people go out of their way to not be friendly.

I’m gathering my own opinions based on my flawed psychological understanding and have an idea as to why this seems to be prevalent in larger metropolitan areas. But dang it, we’re still in the south y’all (we’re in Virginia, so technically, yes we are), and I’m going to keep smiling at people. In fact, it’s my goal to get at least one scowling person to turn her frown upside down when she sees my genteel smile and nod. It has become my mission.

So, if you’re traveling through the DC area and you’re on the metro and there’s some goofy lady (probably with two little girls talking non stop) with a permanent goofy grin on her face it’s probably me. And smile at me back please.

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4 thoughts on “Old fashioned

  1. dandelionmom says:

    poooor NOTSO! You are in serious need of some MN nice!–at the farm store not only do clerks come running when I look at heavy bags of feed and load the cart for me….customers in the parking lot often pause on their way in to help put it in the truck! everyone points and gestures knowingly at the ones who snub people and don’t make eye contact–maybe they are from MO or DC?

  2. I’m glad I’m not the only person that feels that way! I was always taught to be both courteous AND friendly. People are SO unbelievably rude sometimes.

    Had an incident with a colleague yesterday. (He’s notorious for his rude, tactless nature, though he’s been much improved in the past year.) Asks for help without a please or a thank you when the task is done. In fact, doesn’t even acknowledge he received the info he asked for.

    Mind you, I was supposed to drop what I was doing that second and do his bidding. Really made me madder than normal. Just wanted to SCREAM “Didn’t your mama teach you ANY manners?!”

    I’m so glad you’re teaching your girls the right stuff!

  3. okay as much as I would like to consider myself southern… VA is NOT southern on the East side/coast… but it is on the west side. So it is split and has a disorder because the south doesn’t claim us and the north doesn’t claim us. Weird. You aren’t in the south in DC or Hampton Roads area…because it is too transient with too many people revolving from all around the world.

    And I miss Chick fila!

    And as for the metro…I felt the same way about everyone one public here in Hungary and then as I was commuting to my language classes I realized I was smiling either or “looking happy.” I was reading, looking out the window, thinking, etc… and just daydreaming in a sense… so I looked just like they do, whom I was judging as unhappy etc… I started thinking it isn’t normal to just walk down the street smiling…especially in big cities… It is just definitely not the south!

  4. Phoebe says:

    Whenever we traveled the metro as a family, we always got strange looks because we were always laughing and having fun! We smiled and the people would look away, but maybe watching us have fun cheered them up a bit?? Also, my grandmother was a volunteer docent for many years at the Natural History museum and I got to know many of them. They are there because they are really interested in what they are doing and want to help others learn about the subject, too. They really enjoy volunteering and I think it shows (although the older ones can get a little particular, as you noticed!)

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