Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Things I'll miss about Vietnam (volume four): service. I thought of this after rereading yesterday's "backpacker district" update. Probably that pestering of street vendors is the impression I'd have taken away with me back when I strapped all my belongings to my back and traveled for months at a time staying in septic four-to-a-room budget hostels. In that case, "service" might have appeared in an opposite kind of article. As it is, I live here. I travel through other areas staying in well-appointed medium- to slightly high-end accommodation, and eat in restaurants where people don't usually try to sell me drugs at my table. So my impression of Vietnam is one of wonderful service. Compared with the USA--where bored transient labor eyeballs any customer desultorily from the counter, where actively offensive representatives perpetrate heroic one-upmanship of inept unhelpfulness after keeping consumers on hold for hours, where big conglomerates bully paying customers into spending extra money to be targeted for invasive research practices and then go to court protesting complaints--there's little chance I'd bitch about any service falling short of battery. But in reality I'm faced daily with people who feel like it's their job to entice me to spend my money at their establishments. Hoteliers who check me in from the comfort of an overstuffed hotel lobby chair, putting a drink in my hand. Attendants who smilingly serve in-flight meals on merely forty-minute rides. It's a bittersweet revelation. I'm forced to remember that, in reality, I'm doing them a favor, keeping them in business with my customer interaction. I'm reminded that they have jobs because they are able to please customers. This would only be sweet, except that I'm returning home in two months, where I'll be expected to pay for the privilege of ingratitude again. [Cavin]

Then, a 0 sided conversation ensued...

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