Steve Bilby, one of the directors of the Texas Tourist Council, passes along this letter from a tourist:
"You know me, I'm a nice tourist. I never complain, no matter what kind of service I get.
"In a restaurant, I will sit and wait while the waitress gossips with her boyfriend and never bothers to see whether my hamburger is ready. If the soup is cold or the coffee cream is sour, I'm nice about it.
"When I go into a store and get surly treatment, I don't make a fuss. If I get a snooty manager in a hotel or motel, I'm polite as can be. I don't believe that rudeness in return is the answer.
I seldom complain about poor room service, a leaking faucet or a TV that does not work. I never kick, I never nag, I never criticize.
"I wouldn't dream of making a scene. I'm a nice tourist. And I'll tell you what else I am. I'm the one who never comes back. That's my revenge for getting pushed around."
Mr. Nice Guy might be interested to know that those of us who seldom travel also resent poor service.
The employee who is too busy gossiping to take care of customers is more of a pain in the neck to residents than to tourists. The tourist has time to seek out another store or restaurant tomorrow; and the day after tomorrow he'll be 300 miles away.
The resident must patronize establishments within a reasonable distance of his home or his place of employment. There's little he can do when he finds that one place is as bad as the next.
There are two types of rudeness that especially irritate me. One is failure to respond when spoken to, and the other is the interruption of a customer-employee transaction by a second empolyee.
In the first instance, you ask a clerk, "Do you sell frammis graffles here?" and the clerk walks away in silence. You don't know whether he heard or didn't hear. Perhaps he has a hearing deficiency. Or perhaps he heard and immediately went to fetch a frammis graffle. Or maybe he still has two minutes left on his lunch hour and is being careful not to give the company more labor than it is paying for.
It you wait patiently, one of two things will usually happen. Either the clerk will come back with a frammis graffle or he will come back without one. If he comes back without one, then perhaps he will, for the first time, take note of your presence and ask, "Can I help you?"
Be advised, however, that occasionally there is a different ending to the story. Not too long ago I asked a clerk for an item and watched her walk silently into a back room. She didn't return at all, with or without the item I had asked about. Inquiry brought the response. "Oh, she went off duty at 3 o'clock."
An employee who interrupts a colleague who is waiting on a customer is rude, and probably not too bright. I am particulary annoyed when this happens while a checkout clerk is ringing up my order. When it is obvious that a cashier is inexperienced and must be watched carefully, any distraction is likely to cost me money.
On Wednesday, for example, I tried to explain to a befuddled clerk that she had rung up two items at $1.99 instead of two at $1.19. She had some difficulty comprehending what I was saying to her, but after a while seemed just at the point of correcting the error when another employee intruded to ask, "Are you working on Saturday? They promised me the day off, but the schedule says I'm working and you're not."
A heated exchange developed, with both young women talking at the same time and neither listening.
I was in no mood to tolerate further delay because my temperature had already reached 212 during a 10-minute delay in checking out the woman ahead of me. The clerk didn't know the price of one of the two items the woman was buying, so she called out for somebody to ask the manager whether it was 39 cents or 49 cents. In the 10 minutes it took to get an answer more than a dozen people got stacked up in that checkout line.
The man behind me suggested that the clerk ask the customer to stand aside until the pricing information arrived, but the clerk said she couldn't do that. "I've already rung up the first item," she explained.
After that prelude, you can imagine how I felt when it was finally my turn to be checked out and the two employees started going back and forth over who was going to get Saturday off. If it were my store. I'd give both of them seven days a week off.