Customer service was much better, back in my day

1 Mar


When I was little my mum went to the same petrol station every week. I still remember pulling up and out bounced a man covered in grease, happy to fill our car up with petrol. In those days you weren’t allowed to fill your own car. It was brilliant because mum didn’t have to get out of the car and seeing as nothing much was sold at the servo there was no need. The man would even fill up her water and check her oil. We’d always wave at him. He was like family.

Now, we have to put the petrol in ourselves. We even have to get all our kids out of the car to pay for it and try and avoid buying them one of the thousands of junk food choices on display at the register. I don’t pay with cash, I don’t even use a PIN, I just wave my credit card in front of the machine and with barely a grunt from the attendant, I’m on my way, after strapping my three children back into their futuristic seats and seat belts.

Mum used to go to the same butcher too. He was always loud and he made the same joke. Mum would order steaks, sausages and mince and he’d say, “Eat in or takeaway?” We’d always laugh. He’d give us a cold Frankfurt to eat. It tasted so good.

I was feeling nostalgic one afternoon and on impulse, handed my son a cold Frankfurt to eat from the franchised butcher shop I sometimes used. He was green by the time we got to the car. We spent the next six hours in the emergency room at the hospital.

Now that I’m all grown up I can’t help but feel that I am annoying everyone by shopping. There they were all happy and relaxed and along I come to make a purchase, majorly inconveniencing them. There are no greetings or waves to my children. They are impatient. They move quickly. They want me gone. If I don’t move quickly enough to unpack, pay and then leave I feel like I’m intruding.

The only time I sometimes feel welcome while shopping is when I’m clothes shopping. They always, always say hi. Then I remember that they say hi because apparently this reduces the risk of shoplifting. Oh. “Hi, I’m not a shop lifter”, I feel like saying. Imagine how bad I feel when I set off the alarm when leaving the shop because they’ve forgotten to remove the tag. I FEEL like a shop lifter. I’m not, I’m not!

I never carry cash. All my transactions are by card. It’s so funny at my brilliant Italian deli where they make it as difficult as possible to pay by card. I only ever use cash there. Once I forgot and I had to climb over and around a huge dried pasta display to pay. I’ve never forgotten cash again. But they are the friendliest place I shop at. They know my kids. They know my family. We interact.

Why can’t we go back to the good old days?

Oh, I just thought of another one. Remember when all items at the supermarkets had price tags on them? The workers would use those little guns to put the prices on. But sometimes the tags would fall off. When the lady at the counter came across an item with no price she’d always ask my mum if she knew how much it was. Mum would name a price and the lady would enter the price, without any hesitation. She believed the customer.

So retro!


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