BACK from shopping (not in Askrigg, I have to say) with a friend who’s been staying overnight on her way south after a holiday in Northumberland. Called at the chemist for a heat bandage. There’s a lady behind the counter with a look that speaks volumes: no smile, no please, no thank you, no ‘Good morning’ or ‘Can I help you?’ No chat about the advantages and disadvantages of the various products on offer. Not a word of welcome, not a friendly comment on the weather (awful), nor even about MPs’ expenses which has given the most monosyllabic amongst us an excuse for contact and a chance to vent our anger and frustration in the normal daily exchange with our fellow, long-suffering citizens. Nothing; just a curt statement of the price of the product, and the necessary exchange of coins. 😦 

It doesn’t take much to make people feel welcome. A smile and a cheery ‘hello’ is enough for most of us. If small retail outlets (especially in UK holiday areas to which people have chosen to go, rather than hop on a ‘plane and be welcomed by a friendly Italian or American) want to get and retain their customers, they’d better sharpen up and learn a few customer service skills. Standing sullenly behind a counter with ‘another ****** customer’ written all over your face isn’t going to win any awards. Or any customers.

THEY could take a leaf out of the book of the local skilled trades- and craftsmen 🙂 who’re working on the chapel. It’s grindingly hard, dirty, heavy work, whether it’s breathing in insulation wool fibres or standing 20 feet up a ladder with your head bent back to plaster a ceiling. But apart from doing a fantastic job, they’re friendly, pleasant and cheerful, without exception. Tried to photograph some of them today but both cameras had flat batteries. Better luck, and another posting, tomorrow.


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