Have a nice day…

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As long as you grew up in some form of modern civilization and went to school, then you should at least by now have a basic set of manners imprinted on your brain. All over the world ‘manners’ are viewed differently. Each country has its own unwritten rules that the national people abide by and when visitors arrive, that is where standards get kind of blurry and awkward.

Manners in mainland Europe and Great Britain vary widely, and this is even more so if you take a trip across the Atlantic and visit the United States. 

In the U.S., things are usually more relaxed, and for someone who is used to a more traditional setting, the lack of formality can sometimes be construed as rudeness and disrespect.
Most people who come to the United States may already know a few things about the people through television. However, this is of course a skewed reality as some of the stereotypes are true, especially American friendliness and informality. People tend not to wait to be introduced, will begin to speak with strangers as they stand in a queue, and sit next to each other at an event.

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When it comes to service, the main stereotype many foreigners believe is that everyone is happy to help and will do anything for the customer, because the customer is always right. The problem with this is the happy people we see on television are normally in jobs where they survive from tips, rather than their salary. These people have to constantly give off good feeling to the people they are serving or else it could lead to a bad tip.

The problem is that this country has it that the people who don’t receive tips from the customers really couldn’t care less about how they treat you because it doesn’t affect them in anyway, and they still get their check at the end of the month regardless of how they treat you. It’s the people who just don’t care and are miserable everyday who are really letting this country down. Foreigners are used to a high level of service in their home country, and they come here to have a miserable middle-aged woman sigh and roll her eyes when they ask if they can have separate hot milk with their coffee.

I have found colleges normally hire a third party to take care of all the food and drink across the campus, and they hire both people from within the company and students to serve and help at the school in the cafes and cafeterias. 

The students are normally the friendliest because they are just happy to have a job that they don’t have to travel very far for. It’s relatively simple and doesn’t require a high level of fitness. The problem with the students working for this third party is that some of them can be slow and make mistakes that are easy to avoid. Time is money, and the country that coined the phrase obviously lives it. In America, and especially New York, time is a very important commodity. People “save” time and “spend” time as if it were money in the bank. So when an incompetent student takes over a minute to serve a person at a register because they are counting how many chicken tenders the person has, that is when things get annoying to say the least. 

The other kind of staff are the people who are hired by the company to work at the college. I have found that out of all the staff, these are the kind of people who really just couldn’t care less about the students, the college, or how their actions affect the people around them. This isn’t the case with all of them, because a number of them are very kind and can even share a joke or two with you, but there are a select few that really can have an terrible impact on your day, just because they don’t care. 

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Victory Hall is currently far from the high standard you would expect from a private college, and the staff on one particular day really exemplified the need for change that we will hopefully achieve over the summer of 2014. I go to Victory cafe at least twice a week to get a coffee and often some lunch, and a few weeks ago, I was given the worst customer service I had ever received not only in America, but worldwide. (And I’ve been to France…)

When I arrived there was nobody to be seen, and a student just walked in behind me, picked up a bag of chips and left without paying.

Strike one.

As I was pouring myself a cup of coffee, the staff member came out from the back room with her headphones in and sipping on a smoothie that was dripping onto the floor. I didn’t say anything. It’s a British mentality to just keep calm and carry on.

Strike two.

She waddled over to the register and sat on her chair, belched, rested her feet on the desk and continued to look at her phone and sip on her smoothie that was by now dripping all over her uniform. I walked over to the register and  stood directly in front of her for a good 15 seconds before she acknowledged me… which you would assume meant she served me and I got on with my life and lived happily ever after.

No.

She raised her finger to suggest that I wait just one moment more as she beat her high score of 12 on Flappy Bird. She tutted and rolled her eyes as she was defeated by the green pipes of death and took the time out of her busy schedule and took my card to pay for my coffee and snacks. She did not make eye contact with me once and after swiping just threw my card onto the desk next to her filthy black converse and continued her Flappy Bird endeavours.

Strike 3.

You’re out. Have a nice day.

I’ve been to quite a few states on the east coast of America and the difference in service and manners slowly gets better as you travel farther and farther south. The people in Florida are constantly bathing in the tropical sunshine and Caribbean heat, and this is obviously going to affect someone’s personality: they are tanned, smiling and most of them moved to Florida because they simply couldn’t handle the northern lifestyle anymore. Who can blame them? Everything from the birds to the booze is colorful – it just radiates happiness, and if you compare this to the concrete-filled, grey northern lifestyle, it’s easy to see why people in the south are happier.

I have never had a bad experience of customer service in any southern state, whether I’m in a large chain store or a small local restaurant. Even the cab drivers are polite enough to have a conversation with you. The customer service industry in America is famous around the world for having some of the nicest and friendliest people you will ever have the pleasure to meet. Unfortunately, these people can be let down by just a few individuals who are the epitome of misery.

A smile really can make all the difference. unless you’re in France… they’ll never change.

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