The headlines scream at you: “Your favourite news paper,” and “You voted this man as…”
In another newspaper, a reader’s letter goes, “On behalf of all expatriates, I would like to apologise…”
I really am thoroughly fed up with people taking my name in vain.
I know for a fact that that newssheet is not my favourite newspaper. I did not vote for the man in that poll, nor do I agree with the sentiments in the reader’s letter.
There is something about the Gulf region, which seems to encourage journalists and copywriters to exaggerate, quite often wildly.
“The Earth has a new centre,” shouts a billboard in Dubai. In fact, the development referred to looks terrific and is probably very nice, but it is never going to become the centre of the Earth.
More wistful thinking for airlines and hotels, when I read in a magazine: “Thank you for voting us number one”. But I did not vote for you, I want to say, I voted for you nearest competitor.
Neither do I want to read all the drivel about the airlines or hotels whose services are superior to the competition. As frequent travellers we all know that if you annoy the staff at check-in when he or she having a bad day, she/he will ignore you or, worse still, send your luggage to Australia when in fact you are going to London.
Onboard, if the airhostess has just broken up with her boyfriend or the landlord has raised her rent; you had better try serving yourself if you are in need of a drink.
The reason for these mood changes is that we are all just human beings. Sometimes you are grumpy when you get to the airport. The taxi was late arriving and you started to panic, worrying you might miss the flight.
Or you have a cold, which does not want to go away. Or your partner has just informed you that he/she will be moving to the head office in Europe. You wanted an aisle seat and they have put you near the window.
There are many reasons for black moods and this always transfers itself to the service personnel trying to look after you.
I am not advocating that we should all become Cheerful Charlies, but I have been trying lately to better understand the travel profession by being sympathetic to the providers rather than the users.
Ever notice how much more pleasant it is driving thorough London, when the driver starts chatting with you? You find out all sorts of trivia. “Had Lord XYZ in my taxi last week –did you know he’s diabetic?”
When checking into a hotel, have your credit cards ready, knowing they will be needed to authorise your stay. I used to grumble at one time about giving out this info, until my better half told me to stop wasting my breath.
Sign the insurance approval on the rental car application form instead of avoiding it in order to save money and then worrying throughout the trip about having to pay if involved in an accident.
Try reading the menu to choose a meal instead of chatting to your companion, so that the poor waiter is not left standing around for ages. Tip the waiter generously. In some countries this practice is optional, but make it a rule always to tip and then you will feel better, and if you return to the same restaurant, the service will be much better.
When travelling by bus or train, have your ticket ready or the correct amount for the fare, and stop being surprised when young people do not give up their seats for you when the vehicle is full. Just assume that they do not think you are that old and that this is a compliment to your appearance.
Also, forget about the door being held open for you, unless it is by an elderly gentleman from the old school of exquisite manners – bless you, sir.
But back to exaggeration… I think I first became acquainted with this phenomenon before the present boom times in the Gulf when we were driving through the mountains of Ras Al Khaimah and came across the smallest shop we had ever seen with the sign ‘supermarket’ above it – next door to a flakey-looking café advertising itself as a modern restaurant.
Yes, the country folk in the UAE can also write extra-extravagant copy.
Speaking Out by Jonna Simon