IT WASN’T the half-hour drive through traffic that got to me, nor even that they’d told me on the phone to come to that branch; or that, when I got there, it was plain to see, through the all-glass frontage, that the store had been shut for ages, furniture carried away, cobwebs everywhere.
No, it was the sign on the door: “As part of our commitment to excellence and our ongoing determination to serve you better, we have streamlined our operation…” The sign, without irony intended, painstakingly explained that the shutting down of that branch without notice was actually an outstanding form of customer treatment a snivelling little rat like me probably didn’t deserve.
And if that didn’t serve me better, it firetrucking well served me right: I should have known better than to do business with these firetrucking clowns.
But that sign!
You stand in front of a space as plainly as empty as the brains of the people running the operation and you then have to endure their own proud repackaging of their failure on every level as, not just success, but triumph. Their kicking you in the nuts becomes, in their eyes, handling you with kid gloves. “As part of our commitment to excellence,” my foot!
Their “commitment to serve” was yet another reminder that the verb “to serve” means, not just what allegedly commercial enterprises fail to do for their customers, but also what the bull does properly to the cow; they served me well and good.
But, even as I stewed in my own annoyance, I admired their chutzpah.
And I wondered if other people mightn’t benefit from similar signs. Wouldn’t the current Chief Justice – invariably referred to in TT media, nowadays, as “the embattled CJ” – be better served, if only he had a sign on the door to his chambers that read:
“As part of my commitment to excellence and my ongoing determination to uphold the highest standards of the bar, I am serving the interests of justice and preserving the integrity of the Judiciary by vanishing for the next six months. My unswerving dedication to the tenet that, ‘justice must not only be done, it must also manifestly appear to be done,’ requires me to grant my own application to myself to proceed on sabbatical leave. It is only to heroically underline the independence of the Judiciary that I grant this sabbatical leave to myself over the unfounded protestations of the Government that such leave does not exist, just as it was only to defend the high and noble standards of behaviour in the Judiciary that I sought a declaration from someone dependent upon me for professional advancement that I was entitled to stop anyone else from examining my behaviour. Please come back in six months, when I shall return to continue my excellent excellence.”
The current Prime Minister, too, could do with a sign, though he might get more benefit by embroidering it on his scarf than hanging it on his door.
“As part of my commitment to excellence and my unswerving dedication to the highest standards of excellence in public life, I have valiantly put on my kicking boots for Rude Boy Moonilal. Additionally, to maintain my illustrious and shining example of wisdom and balanced judgment to citizens, and them little ones, and to advance the cause of equal rights for women, I have decided to groom my wife like a golf course. If you can read this last bit on the bottom of the hem of the scarf, and you are a beautiful woman, ask me how else you can show your appreciation of my illustrious leadership.”
The Minister of Works and Transport, too, could do with a self-aggrandising sign on every ferry lying at the bottom of the Port of Spain dock:
“As part of my ongoing excellence in delivering excellent ferry service to Tobago, I have courageously decided to remove all ferries to Tobago. It is a celebration of my ingenuity and my stupendous capacity for problem-solving that I shall ensure that every passenger taken off every ferry I sink will be given a free air-conditioned bus ride to get on to plane seats that should cost four times as much for the same price.”
Truly, they live to serve the public.
BC Pires is committed to excellence in avoiding real work. Read more of his writing at www.BCPires.com