Monday, 25 May 2015

An Unfortunate Encounter - Bad Service

One of the writing exercises of the playwriting group I attend was to write a quick 10 minute monologue based on one of two themes; 'Knife Fight' or 'Bad Service'. 

Unlike a previous topic where nothing had sprung to mind, here I was instantly reminded of my delightful experiences with a tour guide in St Paul's. As a tour guide her job revolved around customer service, otherwise no one would have been on her tours, and yet as someone who was not a customer but was still affected by her service, I was immensely displeased. And so in my response to her actions, I felt justified. 
I doubt there are many who did what I did, but I'm sure there are many who would have been as irritated. This is just the well structured verbalisation of that irritation. 

A young female tourist in Rome has been taken aside and asked to justify her actions. As she strongly believed she was in the right and did no wrong she has become somewhat peevish.

I have always been an ideal ambassador for my country I assure you.

I’m not like those young people who think that the way to see more of the world is on a non-stop drinking tour, viewing the inside of a different pub each night then sleeping all day as they take in the sights of a city and the surrounding country side.

Or like football hooligans who desecrate, beyond repair I might add, antique fountains that have only just been restored to their former glory.

I prefer not to follow in the footsteps of Byron, or undisciplined little Chinese boys, and carve my name on ancient monuments.

Much as I may like to, I do not take pieces of these monuments home, I much prefer to leave them for future generations. After all, they are understood so much better when left in place.

And I always dress appropriately, mindful of the traditions and customs of the country I’m visiting.

So truth be told I’m not sure I understand the problem.

I belong to that rare breed of person who lives in museums and art galleries. I mean, not literally, though there are a few rooms I wouldn’t have minded transposing into my own home, as well as the odd piece I wouldn’t have minded taking home.

But it’s not as though I would actually do it, after all, someone else’s actions would have deprived me of seeing everything I wished to see.

My wish is simply that the museum shop carried suitable replicas.

I come to see the arts, the history, the creations that have made this place what it is today. And I revel in it. I track the activities of the influential people, imagine the mannequins quivering to life in the fashions of the day, promenading through rooms still decorated in familiar d├ęcor, stopping to admire the artwork on the walls. And I take note of it all.

I pay homage to the archaeologists who stumble upon these remainders of a bygone age and interpret them for our benefit,

the Conservationists who prepare the pieces so we can see more clearly how they once would have looked. Whether that be a minute bronze figurine recovered from a grave,

the replica of a painting recreated in mosaics in order to save the original from the humidity of tourists,

or the pattern of the floor picked out in different coloured wood or using the variations of marble to create a picture many tourists would simply pass over.

Well I don’t pass over them!

I’m one who pays their contribution and ensures that each and every item within the museum receives my full undivided attention. And yet I do it judiciously, making sure not to block someone else’s view so that they don’t block mine.

Isn’t that a simple Christian commandment? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you?

So when I’m standing in a Christian church and someone is unChristian, I feel obliged to remind them.

Yes, it may have been a little harsh, but they’re never going to learn otherwise. A little humility is good for their soul.

After all, I was justified. I was there first.

I was calmly examining a marble plaque inlaid into the floor down one of the side aisles of St Peter’s It wasn’t as though I was in the way or blocking any route around the basilica.

As I’m examining the details, a tour guide comes and stops directly on the plaque I am looking at. She thought it was the perfect place from which to discuss some other aspect of the building with her gaggle of English speaking tourists.

As I could no longer view the plaque in its entirety, the reason I’d stopped beside it and was looking down at it, I was forced to inform her of this fact, and the fact that I had been there first.

I may have stated that she was being selfish and inconsiderate of other people enjoying the basilica, behaviour not appropriate in a tour guide. I may also have said all of this in English, solely because my Italian is non-existent, but it did have the benefit of ensuring that her little tour of minions understood perfectly that dressing down she received.

She clearly needed to mend her ways, particularly if she was representative of a tour company or of St Peter’s basilica itself. For that’s just bad service.

For I was justified!

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