Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Irish Customer Service

This blogged experience from an American student visiting an Irish Cafe rings true. I have been in similar situations with Americans in Dublin, and felt embarrassed.

It reminded me that there used to be a site called Dublin Stories. Unfortunately dublinstories.org is now dead now. On the site there was a though-provoking story there about Dublin on 9/11. It's ambiguous whether it is about good customer service (helping the people queuing up for cans of Coke), rudeness, or [my own belief] about an underlying Irish shyness which can come off as rudeness sometimes.

Here is the story. I'm posting it up so that it's still somewhere on the Web. I have often thought about this story, since reading it first in 2002.


Nine-Eleven, Dublin
Brendan Dolby

I went to my local shop for a late lunch, the usual - a bottle of coke and a large Mars bar. As I entered, a small group of people were standing over the fridges watching a small black and white TV screen. I paused to ask the nearest customer what the story was.

"There's a plane after flying into one of the twin towers in New York."

"Jaysus", I replied, "He must have been well pissed not to miss one of them."

"No, it was a 737", exclaims the man to my right.

"Yes, yes, yes", interrupts another customer, "Shush, for Christ sake".

There's a quiet pause amongst the five or six of us who are staring at the TV. The female Sky TV commentator is stating what appears to be obvious - "This is SKY TV and your viewing live, the Twin Towers in New York where there appears to have been a terrible accident. A plane has crashed through the side of one of towers of the World Trade Center here in central Manhattan, New York".

"Sorry folks, ye'll have to move on from there, your blocking up the isle, there's a big queue of people behind you, please folks", says the young assistant.

"Ohh for crying out loud", shouts a frustrated American ladies accent. Our little group, blocking the shop traffic somewhat, returns to the TV feeling slightly more confident in our blockade for a while.

"Your watching SKY TV live in New York, there appears to be another plane. Oh my".


"There's something going on here. This has got to be deliberate", interrupts a male voice over the pictures.

There's a small shuffle and pushing within the group of us watching, a man pushes his way through to face us and stand beside the TV. He places his hand over the button. "Sorry folks, you're blocking up the isles and people can't get to the fridges".

"You're watching SKY TV live, this is a replay of what has just happened a few moments ago in Manhattan, New York".

Concentrating as carefully and attentively as possible, trying hard to avoid the distraction of other customers arguing with the shop assistant, I watch amazed, with a surreal uncomfortable sense of curiosity, the second plane crash. The young assistant, standing firm, but with awkwardness in his voice, insists as he pushes the black button to turn off the TV set - "I'm sorry folks, sorry, sorry, customers cannot get at their Coca Cola".

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