Thursday, January 20, 2005
Service: * * *
Ambience: * * * *
Babe Count: * * * 1/2
What a totally weird interaction I've just had with the manageress.
When Alisha and I arrived earlier, a nervous looking Bohemian woman with a plaster cast on her left arm met us at the door.
"Would you like to sit upstairs?" she asks.
"Ah," I say, "we'll just sit wherever I can plug in."
The woman looks baffled, and fades into the background.
I plug my laptop in, and we sit on a couch, pulling a table up to put our stuff on.
Alisha and I have our morning meeting. We're dating, and she's cool about polyamory. But this morning we're doing business. She runs a human resources company, and she's keen to market my creativity seminar.
In the middle of our chat, a very tall chiseled dude with an earring approaches our table. "Hi!" he says, and peers at us in a very strange way. I'm wondering if I know him from somewhere, or if he thinks he recognises me. But it seems to be just one of those moments. He nods, then backs off, and disappears.
Alisha and I are talking about how to make my seminar comply with legislation so that companies who send delegates on my course can claim some of their money back from government. It's a course I've tested extensively over the past few years, mainly at the Wits University Post Graduate Centre, but also at RAU. My feedback has been good, and I've tweaked the course here and there to make it even better. Now I'm ready to start making money off it.
We're just having tea and coffee, and out waiter, Dumile, is very pleasant and unobtrusive.
Near the end of the meeting, I see the woman with the plaster cast heading for the door with a bag over her shoulder. I wave goodbye to her.
She smiles, and waves back, and gets to the door, where she hovers. After about twenty seconds of hovering, she comes over to our table.
"You know, I just want to say that it would really have been polite of you to actually ask if it's all right to plug your laptop in."
This throws me.
"Oh," I say, "I thought I did say that, right at the beginning, when we arrived."
"Well, I didn't hear it, and it would be really polite if you got permission before just plugging in."
The tall dude with the earring is now standing beside her. He says, "I don't just come to your house and use your telephone without asking, do I?"
Alisha says, "Wow, guys. This is really not great customer service. I've used my laptop all over Johannesburg, and I've never had to ask about plugging it in."
I say, "Look, if it's a huge issue to you, we'll leave, and we don't have to come back here again."
"No, you don't have to leave," says the tall dude with the earring.
The woman with the plaster cast on her arm says, "I'm just saying, it would have been polite to ask. You know, you're using our electricity."
"Okay," I say, "it's costing maybe 4 or 5 cents for the electricity. Please, if it's that important to you, put it on the bill, and we'll pay."
"It's just not polite," she says.
We call for the bill, and it arrives. I scan it. Tea. Two coffees. And that's all. They haven't charged us for the electricity. What a bargain!