Putting the Armchair Mayor's customer service experience in perspective

Two & Out
By James Peters
December 1, 2017 - 10:48am Updated: December 1, 2017 - 1:46pm

KAMLOOPS — It's impossible to resist a few words in response to the thoughts presented by my colleague the Armchair Mayor earlier this week. 

You may remember he lamented the fact that employees in the service industry, often the young ones, aren't as consistently friendly as they used to be. 

When he was roundly criticized on CFJC's social media feeds, Mel responded with a column saying ageism played a part in the response, and that people aren't very nice to old people. 

So there are a few issues to address here. 

First of all, we should all agree that any conclusions we draw about the friendliness of those working in the service industry are anecdotal. 

They are purely based on our individual experiences, and not drawn from any sort of scientific data, or even a widely-held consensus. 

Worth the discussion? 

Maybe, but not the basis for an authoritative view of this industry.

But in keeping with subjective views, I'd suggest the entire customer service paradigm has changed, and I certainly wouldn't place all the blame on the other side of the till.

We are a more distracted and distractable people in general, and customers now often shop with half of their attention paid elsewhere.

It may have been considered rude once, but now it's just par for the course.

And there's another factor that's at play with people like Mel and myself, and is once again completely subjective.

We are recognizable people - Mel much more than myself with his decades-long presence in local news and two terms as Kamloops mayor.

It's no secret that people tend to act differently around someone whom they recognize from the media - whether they like them or not.

Personally, I never get used to it, but when I can tell someone I don't know has recognized me from TV, I try to act as normal as possible.

I try to be gracious and patient and down to earth, even on the many occasions I don't feel like interacting with anyone at all.

I'm no superstar, and a city the size of Kamloops wouldn't tolerate that act.

Even so, I've also come to the understanding that, as long as I'm doing this every week, I may not participate in a so-called normal interaction at the supermarket again.

If I come across someone who's grumpy, it may just be that they're grumpy with me specifically.

And that's completely fair.

It wouldn't be the first time, and it certainly won't be the last.