3 December, 2020

Blog

Masochism And Customer Service

By Padraig Colman

Padraig Colman

Back in 1988, I took a flight from London Heathrow to LAX. I was very excited to see in the departure lounge that a fellow passenger was one of my all-time heroes, Ray Davies of The Kinks. Unlike most celebrities encountered in the real world, he was taller than I expected. He was also rather morose, which was not unexpected.

On the flight itself he was in First Class and I was in Economy. I spied  him from time-to-time at the bar in the middle of the plane which available for  free drinks. On one occasion, he came to get a drink and there was no-one to serve him. I thought he was going to burst into tears but he shrugged his shoulders and returned, drinkless, to his seat. The yakkoes in the cheap seats were undeterred by the lack of a bar steward and just helped themselves.

When the plane landed we were making our way to be sniffed at by beagles hunting illegal fruit. Mr Davies halted abruptly in front of me. He had noticed that the moving pavement was not moving. He turned to me and intoned in a melancholy fashion: “Surprise, surprise!”

Rewind to the mid -1970s. I had to travel from London to Manchester. Frugality impelled me to eschew the expensive British Rail and to opt for a bus journey on National coaches. The weather was inclement outside and the heating was on inside the bus. Passengers around me were uncomfortable with the heat which was somewhat overwhelming. After listening to their whinging for some time, I made my way to the front of the bus and politely asked the driver if it would be at all possible, technically,  to turn the heat down. He said “Sorry, mate. Didn’t realise. Can’t feel it up here. No problem”.

I went back to my seat and saw that my fellow passengers were resentful. I had deprived them of the opportunity to moan.

There was an ancient radio comedy series called ITMA (It’s That Man Again). There was a character called Mona Lott, whose catchphrase was: “It’s being so cheerful as keeps me going”.

Fast forward to Sri Lanka 2002. Soon after my arrival in Sri Lanka, I was happy to be able to open an account with Hatton National Bank. I constantly told them how pleased I was with their service, which was, quite truthfully, far better than I could ever expect from a UK bank. In Ireland I had become used to the convenience of internet banking. HNB did not offer this service at that time. They did have telephone banking and I asked to sign up for that. The manager told me that I would need to fill in a form. As there was no demand for the service locally, he did not have a copy to hand. I asked him to get one for me. For  several weeks I gently reminded him about the form. Eventually, when he said: “YOU MUST REMEMBER THAT SRI LANKA IS ONLY A POOR COUNTRY” I sent an e-mail to HNB HQ and they sent me the appropriate form immediately.

After some more of this kind of nonsense I changed banks. When I closed my HNB account the manager said sadly: “Ah, we have failed you”. For eight years I have been getting excellent service form Sampath Bank, service which would be  a fantasy in the UK or Ireland.

I needed  to replace my roo[MP1] f. When the representative of the roofing company did not appear at my home at the appointed time, I rang  him to discover that he was in Ratnapura and had no intention of coming to my home, or of telling me of his change of plans. When I contacted the CEO to tell him that I would not be doing business with his company, he said: “You have to remember that this is Sri Lanka”.

My recent article about the shortcomings of CEB drew many supportive comments. What was dispiriting was the attitude revealed in comments like this:

“We are third world –> second world yet..any villagers complaining of the power supply? They are glad that the lights work even if erratically. If anyone wants to live in remote places, Install your own generator..then you are happy and so are we. But please stop bitching about another’s house when you are a guest..or get lost. Go home. Period.”

“Padraig Colman is under the conviction that he is such a precious specimen of the human species that he thinks the power cuts and other inconveniences of our little country should not apply to him.”

This is a distortion of my position. I live a frugal life and can indeed cope with the little inconveniences of life in a remote place. I was happy to return home to my after a week in Colombo. Less happy that the electricity went off soon after I went through the door at 14.00 and cut off a further five times before the day was over. My point is not that I expect a better service than anyone else because I am a foreigner. I would like to empower everyone to get the service they deserve and pay for and to enjoy the respect and courtesy to which they are entitled. If there is a genuine technical reason for the interruptions in service tell us about it.

These supposedly patriotic Sri Lankans (who have chosen to live abroad) think that their compatriots have been infected by the English masochism. Their benighted compatriots who have chosen to stay in their native land (“our little country”) should, like happy serfs, be grateful for any crumbs from the table.”Don’t worry about us master. We have electricity. We are grateful, even if it doesn’t work. Please kick us as you pass”. Any foreigner who draws attention to these issues is to those patriotic expatriates a sinister force sent to undermine Sri Lankan culture.

*[MP1]i

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    Relax Mr Colman, don’t get so pent up just because a few respond like this to your writings! There are nuts everywhere I guess and Sri Lanka is no exception!

    • 0
      0

      Thanks Chandra. They don’t bother me at all. It’s all a game to me.I like a good argument but unfortunately Mr Randeniya is incapable of providing one.

  • 0
    0

    You must realize that this island is full of stupid people. They tolerate lawlessness, abuse, corruption, even when they are at the receiving end. Why?
    Because they themselves are lawless, abusive and corrupt.

    • 0
      0

      It is even easier for them to tolerate when they live abroad.

    • 0
      0

      Lawyer says:

      “that this island is full of stupid people.”

      Finally you agree with me.

      Does that include yourself as well?

      You say:

      “Because they themselves are lawless, abusive and corrupt.”

      How did they manage to achieve all these things in a country where Buddha once cleansed it and prepared it for the Sinhalese to protect Buddhism for 5,000 years.

      Amazing achievements indeed.

      • 0
        0

        Native Vedda, my pal whose spot on comments I always look forward to.

        You are right. We are all stupid. We must be to let such things happen. I am not talking necesarrily on Mr Padraig’s woes but the state that we have allowed ourselves to get dragged into.

        But then I look at the American people allowing that moron Bush Jr to come in for two terms and am a little comforted! Perhaps there is some hope for us after all.

        • 0
          0

          Pandukabaya de Silva:

          “But then I look at the American people allowing that moron Bush Jr to come in for two terms and am a little comforted! Perhaps there is some hope for us after all.”

          Sri Lanka is not in a comparable position with USA.

          The US has been maintaining technological edge for quiet some time at the same time sitting on vast resources, theirs and ours.

          Its a huge country which can be complacent for a period of time and rejuvenate itself with its human resources. The people are open to new ideas and they know how to make money out of other people’s inventions. They seek talent. We kill them or make their life difficult so that they leave.

          Morons come and go as the Americans very well know they can bring errant politicians to book. The US president cannot do much as the House of Representatives and Senate possess massive power to make the president accountable. The power vested in the president is limited, can declare war only with the consent of both houses. But then all US politicians are in it together when it comes to beating the sh.t out of third world countries.

          Also the media is proactive.

          The US state knows what their wider interest is and willing to corporate with like minded countries around the world.

          The strength of the US state comes from inclusive devolved powers and not unlimited power centered on one man/woman.

          In a few years time USA will become white minority country, good trend as far as the non whites are concerned.

  • 0
    0

    At last, you’ve understood it Mr Colman. Thanks God for that.

    Just one correction: the last word of yhe last sentence “Any foreigner who draws attention to these issues is to those patriotic expatriates a sinister force sent to undermine Sri Lankan culture.” The word ‘culture’ needs to be replaced with ‘nation’.

    Because our culture is civilised, established and too strong to be undermined by foreign conspiracies.

    Have the lights on, always.

    • 0
      0

      At last I have understood what exactly, Dear Heart? It will take more than one lifetime to understand you Sweetie.I suppose that is what makes you so fascinating to me, you hunk!

    • 0
      0

      Have you heard the saying: “The lights are on but nobody’s home”?

    • 0
      0

      Ajit R – “Because our culture is civilised, established and too strong to be undermined by foreign conspiracies.”

      What “culture” are you talking about?? Is it the same “culture” of impunity and corruption that is now prevailing and is being enhanced by the present regime? Or is it the “culture” of intolerance as exhibited by some of the Buddhist priests in their efforts to disrupt other religious places of worship? I doubt that these actions had anything to do with “foreign conspiracies” .

      • 0
        0

        Peter:
        You have said it like it is!
        The Randeniyas of this world can continue to live in their fools’ paradise while the Colmans contribute to maintaining it by their support of a regime that is corruption personified.
        They are essentially two sides of the same coin, occasional inconsequentialities notwithstanding!

    • 0
      0

      “Because our culture is civilised, established and too strong to be undermined by foreign conspiracies”

      Was the ‘sarcasm’ tag was omitted on that sentence or does Ajit really believe that? The SL nation doesn’t need foreigners to undermine it. There are enough locals already doing a superb job undermining it without needing foreign help. Mervin the Vermin Silva is a good example.

      • 0
        0

        Mango

        Did you secretly celebrate VP’s birth day?

        • 0
          0

          Native Veddah – I don’t quite understand your comment. Are you suggesting Mango is a VP supporter? Mango has written many articles condemning VP and the LTTE and received a good deal of abuse as a result.

        • 0
          0

          @ Native Veddah:
          As I’ve explained to you, many, many times, no, I’m not. What’s this got to do with customer service in SL? :)

    • 0
      0

      If our culture is civilised

      How is it posible for the Army to shoot civilians? (please see Broken Palmyrah)

      How could they vote for a drug dealers like Mervin, Duminda?

      How could they burn a vehicle involved in a road accident?

      How could they damage Buddha statues seking treasure?

      How could some fathers rape their daughters?

      • 0
        0

        Lawyer
        asks several pertinent questions.

        I add one more to his/her list.

        How did a section of the people sustain a psychopath as their leader and let him do what he did?

        • 0
          0

          Pls see my first comment

        • 0
          0

          What has this got to do with the price of fish -or electricity?!

  • 0
    0

    Padraig, I wouldn’t worry too much about those “patriotic Sri Lankans’ ” comments, for as you well know, “patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel” ( see http://javajones.wordpress.com/2006/11/04/42/ ). Some of our folk have an inherent problem with ‘foreigners’ – probably a manifestation of their inferiority complexes. Those of us who live in the ‘country’ as opposed to the ‘city’, can well understand your frustration and I, for one, agree with your views on services paid for but not provided as expected.

    The Kinks were great, as were many of those 60s rock ‘n rollers. Here’s something for you – http://www.nme.com/nme-video/youtube/search/The%20Kinks

    • 0
      0

      Thanks Java. Good to meet you.On the subject of rock – check this out

      http://pcolman.wordpress.com/2012/09/03/roger-eagle/

      • 0
        0

        Thanks Padraig – fascinating stuff in there!

        By the way, I have been using ‘inverters’ for years and find them invaluable in the event of power failures. A 1000 watt unit will keep your TV, computer, fan and some lights (up to 1000 watts consumption) running for a few hours with a seamless continuity when the power goes off. Check it out if you haven’t already.

        Cheers!

        • 0
          0

          Thanks for that Java. Are you on Facebook? My e-mail address is spikeyriter@gmail.com.

  • 0
    0

    I like playing the role of ‘party pooper’ amongst you, the like minded lot who are having a party here, pouring bile against the government and its leaders who have a backbone to stand up againt foreign conspirators.

    Mr Colman is one of those sent by the self appointed ïnternational community” to ‘white ant’ our country, exploiting internal divisions, economic isssues and other soft spots. Obviously he has a few local collaborators to work with.

    Europeans have colonially ‘intercoursed’ with Sri Lanka for 500 years and they couldn’t change our culture. But they changed our demographics and economic system. They grew tea to break the Chinese monopoly, and here we are, landed with it today and they rob the product below the cost of production. And since the day the Bitish blood suckers were forced out, they started drawing ínternational attention’to the ‘plight’ of the indentured labour they left us with after treating like animals for 150 years!

    The Sri Lankans pouring bile out on theInternet need to try a bit of meditation and learn to think for themselves. The objectives of the dollar greedy Wijedas Rajapaksas, J. C. Weliamunas and Jehan Pereras are not differerent to Colman. That is not to mention Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu. They are traitors (ther eis no other word).

    Why they will not succeed is because they will never get more than 2-300 followers in this country to come behind them. Buddhism has given us the knowledge of “reality” of things.

    Colmans of this world who may think they are ‘çhosen’, have polluted souls and minds.

    If patriots are scoundrels, as one fool has said here, you can add one to more to the list.

    AR

    • 0
      0

      I agree that the tea plantations were a very bad thing. I agree that the British Empire was a very bad thing.I am not a British citizen. I am an Irish citizen who has chosen to live in Sri Lanka.

      The subject here is customer service not the Sri Lankan government or Sri Lankan culture or Sri Lankan independence.

    • 0
      0

      So, Padraig was “sent to SL to further exploit its internal divisions”? Who sent him? Do you have any proof, other than your own paranoid imagination?

    • 0
      0

      Can you give any specific examples of me pouring bile over the government? Others have accused me of being in the pay of the government. I am having an identity crisis. Help me!

    • 0
      0

      “Poop” is about right!

  • 0
    0

    Padraig Colman asks:

    “Are you suggesting Mango is a VP supporter?”

    Among those who vehemently opposed VP you would have noticed a large number of people secretly admire VP. His secret admirers include Sinhalese as well Tamils.

    One can remain a secret admirer without being an ardent supporter.

    I suspect Mango, David Blacker, Hela, Peter Nazi Chetty, Nalin De Silva, Gota, ………are some of the secret admirers.

    Premadasa liked him liked his brother.

    • 0
      0

      I think you are seriously mistaken but I am sure that Mango can speak for himself.I can only say that I am not a secret admirer of VP nor am I a white ant on a mission to undermine Sri Lanka. I would like to undermine Eejit Randeniya but I would not make a secret of it.

      • 0
        0

        Padraig Colman says:

        “nor am I a white ant on a mission to undermine Sri Lanka.”

        Sri Lankans are capable of undermining the country without outside help. They have been doing it splendidly for many decades therefore your help is not needed.

        Left to their own devices they could ruin the island in no time. Both the Tamils and Sinhalese share a common self destructive gene.

        Please don’t stop them.

    • 0
      0

      The subject here is customer service not VP.

  • 0
    0

    Ajit – you say “Buddhism has given us the knowledge of “reality” of things.” However, if you really comprehend what the Buddha’s philosophy is about you will realize that what you term “reality” is in fact ‘Maya’. Look it up!

    Also what makes you think that all those who comments you don’t agree with have not tried, or practice, meditation and don’t think for themselves? Stop being so presumptuous.

    How about answering my question above on the “culture” you are on about? That should be interesting, given your self-professed ‘knowledge’ of Buddhism! It seems that you are more about insulting those whose comments don’t suit you instead of making some logical sense in relation to the content of the post.

    By the way the quote on ‘Patriotism’ you term as “some fool’s” is Samuel Johnson’s – hardly a “fool”!

  • 0
    0

    Mango

    “What’s this got to do with customer service in SL?”

    I asked you a simple question whether you celebrated VP’s birth day. Since I don’t have your contact details this is where I could ask you all sorts of silly questions.

    Do you think 100 of comments have anything to do with the topic under discussion.

    All comments start with LTTE’s Tamil terrorism and end in Mahawamsa mind set of the Sinhala/Buddhist state.

    If that is the case why cannot I ask you silly questions?

    • 0
      0

      Veddah,
      You keep asking me the same silly question about VP and I keep giving the same answer. Where you’re correct is whatever the topic under discussion, it always ends up in the same area. i.e. the Tamils vs Sinhalese, war crimes, atrocities, etc, etc…

      You keep the same question about the whereabouts of dead LTTE leaders’ wives, most of whom are also dead. My answer to you then was that the only surviving spouse is Soosai’s wife, who’s living somewhere in Trinco. If you’ve got the hots for her, go there and meet her.

      • 0
        0

        Mango

        Tamil Chelvan’s wife is also alive and kicking.

        Where is Pottu? Is he sharing a bed with Gota?

        Where is VP’s wife?

        Are you a secret admirer of VP?

        These are three important questions for which you have not answered satisfactorily.

        Do your home.

        I will keep on asking you these questions until the cows come home.

        I love to ask Pottu why did he do what he did and how did he manage/survive all those years with VP.

        I would like to ask VP’s wife what made her to share her bed with this horrible person? What was she thinking when they shared their bed?

        I would like to ask you why do you admire VP?

        • 0
          0

          What has any of this got to do with customer service????!!!!!

          What possible reason have you for assuming that Mango admires VP??

          Are you mad?

    • 0
      0

      I asked you an off-topic question and you ignored it. If you want to raise off-topic matters with me you can contact me on spikeyriter@gmail.com. Ajit can do the same. I have nothing to hide.

  • 0
    0

    Peter, Mango and other ‘avatars’ looks like perfect IQ matches for Padre.

    Buddhists dont care about citizenship Padre, but ‘deeds’ of people.

    You probably didnt expect to learn that there are some people in this country who can read ‘noses’ – You read noses, you understand international politics and conspiracies. You are so different to hundreds of Irish I know and respect for their fight against British takeover of their land, just like we are doing.

    Try to ‘undermine’ me, if you can.

    • 0
      0

      Ajit Randeniya –

      “Buddhists dont care about citizenship Padre, but ‘deeds’ of people.”

      You mean “land deeds” of other people. It is very true.

      • 0
        0

        LOL

        • 0
          0

          Padraig Colman

          LOLs:

          Why do people LOL in their comments?

    • 0
      0

      You do not need to tell me about Buddhism. You do not need to tell me about what the British did to Ireland.

      See:

      http://pcolman.wordpress.com/2011/07/21/ethnic-cleansing-in-ireland/

    • 0
      0

      Ajit – you say “Peter, Mango and other ‘avatars’ looks like perfect IQ matches for Padre”

      Finally a flash of inspiration!! This is probably why you answer our comments/questions with a load of irrelevant crap. Stick to “reading noses’. Is yours brown by any chance?

  • 0
    0

    Colman bro, looks like you may have to undergo plastic surgery because they have started to ‘read’noses like what happened to me in Russia. At least in Russia there was Stalin to teach them. How did this come about in Sri Lanka.

    Hope they are not complaining about the tip!

    Good luck amonst the goyium.

    • 0
      0

      I could do with plastic surgery on my nose. It is red rather than brown. Too much wine!

  • 0
    0

    Peter, Is that true you were ‘sponsored’ by the US embassy to go to US during the presidential elections. US $ is such a nice currency, isn’t it?

    And you also lick the Rajapaksas’boots, Dont you?

    Dont get caught. Rajapaksas dont like . depath nayas’.

    • 0
      0

      What has this got to do with customer service?

    • 0
      0

      Jagath – You may be mistaking me for another ‘Peter’. No I didn’t go to the US during the elections and I certainly don’t lick “the Rajapakse’s boots” (or anyone else’s either). If you bother to read my comments on CT you will find you are mistaken.

      Sorry to disappoint you!

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 7 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.