The Good Ones

When the waiter ran half up Skadarljia to bring me my credit card and glasses that I left in the restaurant, I was forced to reevaluate both my forgetfulness and my attitude toward customer service.

In point of fact, I have been wracking my brain (hence the forgetfulness) for something over which to grumble for the past couple of weeks and I am drawing closer to the conclusion that perhaps it is not as bad as all that… 

I mean: let’s face it. Customer service is not a national attribute. It always comes down to individuals. Some of the individuals, being human, will naturally be more or less annoying than others. Anywhere in the world we can run into a waiter, shopkeeper, or ticket collector who would like nothing better than to cast darkness on a sunny day. There are always those who clip the heads off flowers and spit in take-away coffee cups. 

But then, he said with a look of wild surmise, there are the other ones. The Good Ones. We do not remember the Good Ones as much because they are much less fun. The Good Ones make us smile momentarily and add into the background of the day. Their influence is subliminal, enhancing the mood and lightening the step, but their actions (sadly) do not occasion us to ruminate as much as the Bad Ones do.

We remember the slights and the rudenesses. We remember the nasty remarks and off-handed apathy which are slung our way in the midst of the consumer experience. For me, this ranges from the attack-dog “izvolite” when you enter a shop, to the unmodified “no” you get when you ask for something. These little discourtesies stick in my craw and I grumble about them for hours afterward (or until the next one besets me). 

Then you have this waiter. We had not ordered a king’s feast at his restaurant. Nor had we engaged him in pleasant waiterly conversation. Nor had we left him a disproportionate tip. But seeing that I was stupid enough to leave both card and glasses on the table, he hot-footed it up the cobble stones to return them to me. I want to remember him. I want to remember this.

The world teaches us, sadly, that no good deed ever goes unpunished. But the concerted effort I will be making now is to remember the Good Ones. The kiosk owner who lets slip a couple of dinars because you do not have change. The guy who walks ten minutes out of his way because you are hopelessly lost in the city (this is common in my case). The bank teller who smiles when you approach. These little background bits of kindness and humanity deserve remembering. 

I am not sure how long this atypical anti-grumpiness will last in me, and I am not sure if – now that I am determined to Accentuate the Positive – the universe will not just simply vomit on my path to prove me wrong. But even so, the experiment is now underway.

Vendors, Sellers, Representatives, and Waiters beware: your barbs will bounce off me now. I shall resolutely refuse to retaliate or ruminate thereupon. With grim determination I shall exhume the kernel of Goodness, the kind act, and the generally helpful.

And I shall REMEMBER. Test me.

March 2020

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