Monday, June 25, 2012

Two Soups

During the weekends appearances we decided, after arriving early on Saturday morning at our destination, to have a spot of breakfast in some nice surroundings rather than in the car at some grotty car park that smells of wee. This was a break from routine as we can usually be found tucking into a Tupperware container full of food and sipping coffee from plastic cups, so this, essentially, was a treat.

I use 'treat' in the most loosest of terms as events wasn't exactly treat worthy...

A nice place announcing a breakfast menu, titillating us with eggs benedict, smoked salmon, kippers and the usual choice of a full English looked promising. Even the interior looked shiny and inviting, so in we went to be seated. It wasn't full, after all it had only been opened fifteen minutes so we were only the third table to be seated. The waitress came over and gave us the menu taking an order for coffee at the same time, it all looked too fab.

Then, like some cheap clothing, slowly the threads began to unravel. Or coffee came ten minutes later in a rather small cup, this was a large one by the way, with a seemingly impossible handle. No matter how you tried to lift it with the handle it just slipped through your fingers. I laughed at Jayne as she tried to steady it only to nearly throw scalding water on my own crotch seconds later, the handle was too small to grip and the inside was too small to get your fingers in to steady it, so instead we assumed the position of drinking from a mug on cold winters day using both hands cupped around it.

Still, it passed the time, which was a good job too as the waitress decided to take the orders out of sequence for the tables, so the last table seated got to be first and a family who had been here before us had to wait until last, although all that didn't matter as them mixed them all up in the kitchen anyway.

The next twenty minutes was spent watching from our vantage point a pair of kitchen staff, one of whom included the chef, prepare a breakfast. Unluckily it wasn't ours or even any of the other tables, it was chefs, who stood and ate it whilst idly stirring a few pots. Delightfully he signaled the end of his repast with a eradication or burp as some might call it much to his own satisfaction and a quick wipe down of his hands on his apron he was ready to start work. Twice he burnt the muffins and whilst preparing a haddock almost took his own finger off.

Even the waitress looked like a younger Mrs Overall, I half expected the front of the cooker to fall over and reveal it was actually balsa wood with a candle for flame effect such was the feeling that we had stumbled into the culinary version of Acorn Antiques. We had some excitement though, the waitress came towards us with food after 25 minutes, unfortunately it was short lived as it was delivered to the last table to come in.

Thirty five minutes after the order had been taken it was delivered safely to our table. Cold. We we the lucky ones, the family of four that had ordered a full breakfast still sat idly twiddling their thumbs in that 'oh, I mustn't complain British way we all do from time to time'

As you probably imagine from the blog, we were not impressed. Even more so as this establishment was supposed to be a half decent one too, I mean, a cup of coffee was £2.50 even though it came in doll tea service cups. It had over forty tables too, how on earth did they cope when it was full?

It got me thinking and as we walked around the shopping centre I felt myself people watching. The shops had not been open very long but already the staff in many of them looked bored, no, not only bored but also lifeless too, this disinterest in service or efficiency it seemed was endemic. Slowly though I started to analyse each and every shop we passed, why were some better than others?

I came to the conclusion that it depended entirely on what they sold. If it was practical like clothes or shoes it became mundane unless you reached a certain level of social product status, sell designer wear and suddenly you smile more and look as if your enjoying it, sell £9.95 trainers and suddenly it's all too boring. Selling technology too had its break points, work in an Apple store and it feels aspirational and fun, sell the same items in a large retail chain like Comet and everything suddenly seems so grey. Essentially for any retail job to feel fun and for you to get the most out of needs to be selling items you aspire to or you need to look at things differently.

For an example of just how to change your working environment without changing your job have a look at the Seattle Pikes Place Fish Market. Yes, I know that sounds rather weird but they follow a philosophy called Fish!, a philosophy that teaches you to chose your attitude and mindset every day to get the best out of yourself or your occupation. It's quite interesting to see just how selling fish, an essentially boring job, can be turned around to be just as fun and exciting as selling high end technologically fun products.

My waitress and chef were obviously disappointed in what they do, everybody feels like that at some point but hey, the bills need paying. It doesn't stop you dreaming though and you never know, that person you serve efficiently or the lady you smile at as you place the coffee cup down might just be the person to change it all for you. Chances are you are reading this thinking, yeah, right, just like a Mr Jacob Williams did when serving a customer who looked rather scruffy in New York, he smiled and went the extra mile to attend to his customers needs by doing a simple task as fetching a sugar bowl even though his customer was being quite difficult at the time.

Mr Williams was serving one of New Yorks richest men who at that point was sat in the restaraunt with a cup of coffee pondering replacements for his personal assistant, a job worth $300,000 a year. Mr Williams attentiveness caught his eye and he decided then that Mr Williams would be an ideal replacement.

Mr Williams started working for his billionaire as his dog walker the very next day at $2 an hour and never looked back.

See, you thought that was going to end quite differently didn't you? Well, it did, Mr Williams eventually became his personal assistant and when his billionaire died ten years later he was left over $10 million in shares, one million for each year, for his service, all down to a smile and a bowl of cubed sugar.

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