Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams commented yesterday on an ‘appalling decline in everyday customer service’ that he has noticed throughout Northern Ireland. Adams first became aware of the slipping standards around September 2005, when a BBC receptionist didn’t look up from filing her nails after he read out a statement on final IRA decommissioning, and he says the situation has jut gone downhill from there.
‘It was a little thing,’ said Adams, ‘But I’d always found people in this province just couldn’t do enough for you. Everyone was always overly helpful, and wished you a cheery and enthusiastic goodbye whenever you left. That seems to have gone now.’
Adams went on to reminisce about visiting pubs, often with a large bag full of irregularly ticking clocks, which he enjoyed repairing as a relaxing hobby. ‘Nine times out of ten’ he found that drinks were on the house and the staff would very kindly back off into a corner to give him and his friends some privacy or leave the pub completely.
The Sinn Fein leader gave an example of how far standards of politeness have fallen in Belfast restaurants. ‘Just the other night someone spilled soup on my lap, and I barely got an apology or an offer to pick up the dry cleaning bill. But a few years ago I was out to dinner with a friend – I remember it was just before Christmas because it was very cold and my companion arrived wearing a balaclava to keep out the chill – and the waiter merely knocked over my glass of water onto the tablecloth and was so mortified he fainted. You just don’t seem to get that kind of dedication to good service anymore.’
Adams’ other gripes about modern Northern Ireland include the prevalence of car-clamping. For years, he parked pretty much anywhere he liked, and no-one would even go near his car, never mind think about a ticket. “And people don’t laugh so much either” he sighed, ‘I used to tell this joke; it started ‘A man walks into a bar…’ and people would be rolling in the aisles before I even got to the punchline. Nowadays it barely gets a titter…’
The only person he has found that seems to be bucking this trend is a loud burly pensioner, who in the past wouldn’t even give him the time of day, but now is never off the phone to him. Adams often wonders ‘who do we have to kneecap around here to get that bloody Paisley to bloody shut up?’
sheldonprice aka nealdoran (with thanks to jazzer)