We’ve all been there. The taxi that’s ‘just around the corner’, the table that’ll be ready ‘in two minutes’ and, best of all, the delivery that will be there ‘on Monday morning, on my life guv’nor’.
And we all know what they mean; the taxi’s got lost, the diners have just started dessert and the delivery, well, it probably doesn’t even exist.
Why do we put up with it?
Everyone has a tale of woe, be it hanging on the phone with your bank or trying to cancel your cable TV.
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A friend of mine finally scrapped Virgin a couple of weeks ago after weeks of trying. She’d have been happy to stay, but they repeatedly failed to call her back – probably after all that screaming down line 3. Since cancelling, she’s been called repeatedly asking her why.
All this was thrown into sharp contrast last week when I ventured across the pond to New York, the city that never sleeps – mainly due to its 4am garbage collections. Yeah I picked up the lingo, buddy.
A city of 8.2 million, set up on a rigid grid system and with more hustle than Van McCoy (First reference of the week; 1975 disco hit. Look it up and . . . do the hustle!)
True, they moved too fast on the 59th Street bridge, but kicking down those cobble stones still left me feeling groovy.
The people were friendly, helpful and chatty.
Requests for directions were met with good grace and a smile, even if they were quick and to the point.
The service in restaurants was quick and personal and while the cynical (me, normally) may sniff out insincerity at a thousand paces, there was an overwhelming feeling of being welcome.
Even in the flashest places, Bloomingdales, Tiffany’s (don’t ask) and the Ferrari shop on Park Avenue, staff were welcoming even if it was instantly clear that the latest Spider was just a wee bit beyond my price range.
It’s all about collective pride and confidence I suppose; Pride in their area, their history and heritage combined with collective spirit forged in the horror of 9/11.
When you’re that big, that good and have come through so much, being a native New Yorker must feel pretty good.
And safe. Since the city got tough on crime there are more of New York’s finest on the streets and more of the resident lowlives behind bars.
Those crazy Yanks huh? As if such a wacky policy could ever work over here.
Better to file it under ‘Only in America and keep handing out police cautions, as that seems to be working so well here in England’s green and pleasant lands.
Still, our towns and cities do doggedly cling on to their identities, in the face of identikit retail parks and charity shop High Streets – through the good nature of the people.
I’m generalising obviously, but to me Black Country folk are warm with an accent that sings, Salopians are superb company and Staffordians, well, they’re the best of the bunch, obviously.
What they all share is an inherent friendliness and pride in where they come from.
We just need to harness it and use to help kickstart our home towns back to life and gives us confidence moving forwards and puts a smile on our faces in tough times.
Wouldn’t it be good to have a New York state of mind from New Street to New Invention and all places round about?
You never know, it may even rub off on the hardest of cynics.
Have a nice day.