Service Culture

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“I’m not going to complain about Britain’s “lack of a service culture”—it’s one of the things I cherish about the place. I don’t think any nation should elevate service to the status of culture. At best, it’s a practicality, to be enacted politely and decently by both parties, but no one should be asked to pretend that the intimate satisfaction of her existence is servicing you, the “guest,” with a shrimp sandwich wrapped in plastic. If the choice is between the antic all-singing, all-dancing employees in New York’s Astor Place Pret-A-Manger and the stony-faced contempt of just about everybody behind a food counter in London (including all the Prets), I wholeheartedly opt for the latter. We are subject to enough delusions in this life without adding to them the belief that the girl with the name tag is secretly in love with us.”

The operative word here is ‘pretend’. And I completely agree with Zadie Smith. (I often do.) No nation should elevate service to the status of culture like America does. But then America even has something called ‘sports culture’. They have elevated following spectator sports to the status of culture.

Take a look at what the Japanese do instead. That is service rooted in culture. Not the other way round. Or so it seems to my Eastern mind whose own culture teaches oneself to treat his guests as Gods, no less.

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