Monday, 17 January 2011

Nicely Does It...

It is official. Today is the most depressing day of the year. Apparently. I have to say, it came as no surprise to me as I heard the announcement on the radio. It was dark and dreary when I crawled out of bed. It was drizzling as I traipsed to work. It was still grey when I left the office at 2pm to attend a meeting about job cuts. It’s a small miracle I’m not currently sobbing into a straight vodka having eaten the contents of a small chocolate factory.
It is on days like today that a friendly face, a genuine smile and a please and thank you would make life a lot more bearable. Unfortunately, it has become apparent to me that such a pleasant exchange with anyone else in this city has become a rarer and rarer occurrence. Customer Service is a thing of the past. Common Courtesy is all but extinct. Why? Well, because being Nice isn’t cool. It is out of vogue, unfashionable. Passé. Especially in London.
Take, for example, your average bus journey. Rather than automatically clearing the space next to them, people leave their bags on seats whilst you stand clearly in their line of vision, hanging on for dear life with one hand whilst the other struggles to keep hold of your shopping. People mutter to themselves when you try to get past them to take a seat at the back. Then there is the problem of personal hygiene. I am sorry, but unless you do not have access to a shower and a bar of soap it is unacceptable in my opinion to travel on public transport with BO. Okay, so end of the day sweaty pits is understandable, but stale week old funk? Just plain rude.
Recently, whilst enjoying a bus ride home from Camden Town after a meeting away from the office, I have seen this level of rudeness develop into pure nastiness. One evening before Christmas I heard a young female voice loudly inform a fellow passenger that they need to learn the language and uncover their face if they want to live in this country. How embracing of people from different religions and races. Then, only two weeks ago, I heard a young man talking to someone on the phone about a spate to motorbike robberies in the area. The acquaintance on the end of the phone was clearing looking after this chap’s bike.
“If you let anyone touch my bike bruv I’m gonna cut you up, do you get me?”
Wow. So this is how we communicate with each other these days, is it? Threaten others with violence rather than ask them to keep an eye on our property for us, please? Intimidate people to get our own way, rather than try and persuade them to help us out because we are nice people?
This disdain for others seems to have spread to our opinions of the rich and famous, too. Okay, I admit, I am not a big fan of the X Factor. But, you know what? Fair play to Whatsisface who won this year. He went for it, and he got it. Good for him.
A couple of weeks ago I was in HMV queuing to pay for a bargainous DVD. Whatsisface’s book was on display near the counter. Two young men in front of me noticed it.
“You see that guy? He is sick, man.”
“For real. He is a loser.”
Er, hello? Okay, so he isn’t quite John Lennon, but hey, he’s actually done quite well for himself! Okay, so by all means, question his musical ability, but a sick loser? Me thinks that he isn’t the person who falls into that category in this example. Surely it is those who cannot bear to see other people succeed who are sick?
Maybe that is the problem. Our society is ill. London’s communities are diseased with bad manners, a deficiency in respect and a bad case of not caring.
But there is good news. These ailments are easily treated with a dose of holding doors open for others, offering your seat to the elderly and infirm and an avoidance of queue jumping and elbowing. And, the icing on the cake is that such niceties are contagious.
So, when you set out to work tomorrow, why not give it a go? Who knows, being Nice might reach epidemic proportions.

1 comment:

  1. Bravo! I agree with every single sentiment of this blog...Good luck with finding some nice London-dwellers! x