Tuesday 21 January 2020

You have the right to remain fuming

Tuesday night's pretty horrific exposé of the standard of care in some crèches has opened up a weeping sore for many parents, but I was particularly struck by the comments of one father whose two children attended the Links crèche in Malahide.

He said he had prior concerns about the treatment his kids were receiving, but he never said anything or complained because: "No one wants to be seen as an overbearing parent."

He unwittingly touched on an even more prevalent Irish trait – the reluctance to complain. Or, to be more precise, the inability to complain in a polite and reasonable manner.

For a people who delude themselves about their famed 'Fighting Irish spirit', we have a tendency to accept sub-standard service and sit there simmering quietly.

Take restaurants, for instance – how many times have you sat watching someone who looks like they're eating a bowl of maggots, yet when the waiter comes over and asks how the food is they'll smile wanly and say: "Ah, it's grand," before then moaning for the rest of the night that the food was muck?

Now, considering the prices we pay when we go out, we're perfectly entitled to a reasonable standard of quality and services. But that doesn't give anyone the right to behave like a jerk to some waitress who is just doing her best.

Because the flip side of the non-complainer is the professional grouse – the kind of person who thinks that having a meal in a restaurant is some sort of a battle between staff and patron, where every dish must be examined... and found wanting.

But the thing is, why can't so many of us simply call the waiter over and say we know they're busy, but the soup is cold (speaking of which, why oh why can't I find a restaurant in Dublin that can properly heat gazpacho?) and they would like a fresh one?

After all, any half-decent place relies on repeat trade and it's in their interests to keep you happy.

At all times, though, the most important thing to do is to be pleasant and get the staff onside – you don't like someone giving out when you're at work, so why should they be expected to be any different?

I remember being on a flight when the woman in front just wouldn't stop slamming her seat back on to my legs. I eventually asked her to knock it off – prompting her husband to say he was going to sort me out once we had landed. At least I think that's what he said; he was from Cork.

The woman was so shocked at being asked to stop using her seat as a frigging battering ram that she called the nearest cabin crew and complained of being 'threatened'.

That's the kind of allegation that can see you spending the rest of the flight wearing plastic restraints but the woman continued to loudly complain and demanded that we be removed (an interesting proposition from 30,000 feet, I'll admit). And then she threatened to call the cabin manager if something wasn't done immediately. What was particularly interesting was the malicious little smirk she had on her face – the look of someone who has been complaining and ratting on people since she was in school, probably.

For my part, I simply explained that all I wanted to do was read my book in peace and not have some woman repeatedly slam her seat backwards – it was a long flight and nobody needed the grief.

The stewardess nodded, then told the horrified couple in front to knock it off, and merrily informed them that they were now cut off from the in-flight bar service.

It was a simple and perfectly pleasant exchange between myself and the stewardess – we're all working stiffs, so nobody needs unnecessary grief.

Although as the wife hissed at me later in the flight: "What were you talking about back then? Your mother was never an air stewardess."



Honestly, the market's getting tougher out there.

It looks like my genius plans to start a new religion have been beaten to it by Australian IT consultant AJ Miller, who set up his own church – The Divine Truth – and has attracted the attention of the world's press with his claims that he is the physical resurrection of Jesus.

Inevitably, we have the usual Christian hardcore going mad because, ironically, they seem to think that only a mad man would claim to have been resurrected from the dead.

But theological wranglings aside, you just know in these heathen, Godless times, everyone saw that story and thought . . . yeah, y'know, being the Messiah is grand all that, but an IT consult, you say?

He'd be able to get you deadly broadband, for sure.

Well, loaves and fishes are so last year . . .


It can't have come as much of a surprise to see that so-called 'pay-day lenders' such as Wonga have this week been accused of not employing sufficiently stringent checks on loan applicants by the Office of Fair Trading in Britain, while they have also been criticised by the charities who have to help people in arrears.

That's fair enough, and some people have found themselves in over their neck.

But I can't help wondering how many Newcastle United fans went to a quick pay-day lender to get a few quid to buy the new Newcastle jersey?

Which features proud sponsors Wonga.

Irish Independent

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