Sunday, January 24, 2010

Those Sleeves Make Me Want to Throw Up

Quote of the blog:

My friend Trish bought an adorable vintage style dress from Urban Outfitters and as the cashier rang it up she looked at the dress and said: “Those sleeves make me want to throw up.”


New York is known for a lot of things, but customer service is not one of them.

When my brother Ty was on his internship he went into a deli and asked the woman at the counter if they had any specials. She looked at him and then looked over her shoulder and then back at him. He waited, hesitated a second and asked again, “Sorry, do you have any specials?” She pursed her lips and gave him what I call “the slow blink”. You know the one – the slow, irritated, patronizing blink where it the lids look so heavy they can only be opened slowly. She looked over her shoulder at the printed menus on the wall and said, “Can’t you read?”

I think you'll agree with me that fast-food chains aren’t known for good customer service (it really does seem like an industry joke to put a person you can’t understand at the drive-through window). Our friend Chris has a huge weakness for Popeyes fried chicken and he has a NY customer service story that is one of my favorites:

A tall girl with long curved acrylic nails and a mass of thin braids in an up-do stood behind the counter looking bored. She glanced at Chris as he ordered his Popeyes fried chicken and then began tapping one long plastic nail on the counter top. Tap. Tap. He tried again. She looked at him briefly and tapped her nail again. Tap. Tap. Tap. He decided another approach and worded his order a bit differently adding a pleading “please?” to the end. She rolled her eyes, looked at him pointedly, then stared at finger and began the deliberate tapping. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. He looked down to see that under her brightly decorated acrylic nail was a paper sign that read “ON BREAK, BACK IN 15 MIN.”

Customer service is pretty much the same throughout New York City. After living here for a while you begin to think that bad customer service is how customer service is everywhere. My friend Julie, Jason, and I took a trip to Chicago last year and Julie and I went shopping at H&M. The last time I had gone to H&M in New York I arrived a bit late. As I reached to open the door the security guard barked “CLOSED!!” so loud I actually jumped.

The store in Chicago was big and clean and as Julie and I handed a few items back to the fitting room attendant he smiled broadly and said, “Thanks so much, I hope you found some things you liked.” My instant reaction was suspicion. I suppressed the urge to narrow my eyes, pull my purse in closer, and back away slowly. Instead I managed a cautious, “Thanks”. Later, we realized that he, like everyone else in Chicago (and most other places in the states) was just being friendly. Honestly, for the first bit it gave me the creeps: like all of those nice mid-western smiles were a sign of a Stepford Wives conspiracy or some Mid-Western inside-joke.

Despite the lack of customer service living in New York is great. You can find just about anything you could ever want in The City. Just sometimes it makes it easier if you expect that instead of customer “service with a smile” you might get customer “disservice with a scowl, a shrug, a scoff, or perhaps a Tap. Tap.


  1. I miss new york so much today.


  2. Hilarious. I'll have to come see for myself someday.

  3. amazing. my favorite was when i went into a bodega to get a bottle of soda. the person in front of me was latino and spoke spanish with the attendant, who definitely charged him only $1 for his bottle. when it was my turn the attendant looked at my pale complexion and blonde hair and decided that my bottle was $2. i set it down and walked out. is it better to be overcharged or totally ignored (which happened to my brother when he was out here)? who knows. makes for a good story though.

  4. I like your blog. It's just that simple.

  5. In Bellingham Spencer and I went to eat at a restaurant. We waited for the waitress to quite talking about the squirrels outside and talk to us but it didn't happen tell we got up to leave.

  6. I never thought of it that way---that is why when I am nice to people here I get a suspicious, "Where are you from?" Love your blog!