The BBC reports that Britons cringe at the thought of American-style customer service (of the friendly, familiar, 'Have a nice day' sort) landing on their shores. 'Hazel Duffy and her fellow diners were perplexed,' the article notes, 'when the waitress in a West Midlands branch of a US restaurant chain squatted down almost to the point of kneeling to take their orders.
"We asked her what on earth she was doing, why she was crouching down like that," she said. "Her reply was that they had been trained to do it, so that they could be on the same level as their customers." '
Thanks but no thanks (or perhaps Cheers but nae), said Hazel and her meal mates. Serve us; don't be our friend.
It's no secret that American-style shop and restaurant service doesn't necessarily translate well in the rest of the world (Safeway's policy in the US that employees must walk you to any item whose location you ask about would surely send Europeans fleeing). But, as the article notes, surely there's a middle ground to be found between our in-your-face style and the UK's ask not what your clerk can do for you style; I would gladly go for a touch of the latter (especially in clothing stores), while the comments at the end of the BBC piece suggest that Brits wouldn't mind a taste (a taste, mind) of the former.
It's odd that we're so infamously treacly in matters of commerce and dining while we're such assholes in matters of everything else. Such as, say, our current administration's attempts at world domination.
A coalition of Canadian peace groups called Rooting Out Evil has announced its intention to send an international team of volunteer weapons inspectors into the United States later this winter. A recent press release explains the group's decision:
'"Our action has been inspired by none other than George W. Bush," said Christy Ferguson, a spokesperson for the group. "The Bush administration has repeatedly declared that the most dangerous rogue nations are those that:
1) have massive stockpiles of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons; 2) ignore due process at the United Nations; 3) refuse to sign and honor international treaties; and 4) have come to power through illegitimate means.
"On the basis of President Bush's guidelines, it is clear that the current U.S. administration poses a great threat to global security," said Ferguson. "We're following Bush's lead and demanding that the U.S. grant our inspectors immediate and unfettered access to any site in the country - including all presidential compounds - so that we can identify the weapons of mass destruction in this rogue state," added David Langille.'
When so much of the news is dominated by the bluster-filled and hypocritical things Bush and his minions say, it's a breath of fresh air to know that people are making attempts (however improbable) to shine some light on all the things the US is fucking up. This seems like as good a place as any to start.