Customer Service 101

Stormy weather on the customer service front.

Remember those threatening storm clouds that rolled over town last Saturday morning. They popped off some lightning bolts, rumbled with thunder and then, just as Canadian Tire was full of folks doing last-minute Father’s Day shopping, inside the store there was a momentary blackout.

Simultaneously there was an audible sigh as everybody in the store realized what it meant. The store’s entire electrical system – from lighting, to security alarms to cash registers – would have to reboot before things got back to normal. What was worse, with everything at a standstill, the line-up at the checkouts was growing fast.

Almost as quickly, with the temperature among impatient customers (and the store itself because the air conditioning also had to reboot), a guy in a blue Canadian Tire shirt slipped past the queue, grabbed an armful of bottled water and began handing out the bottles for free.

“Sorry for the inconvenience,” Kevin the store manager said. “We should have things back to normal in a couple of minutes.”

Tipping point

The Hobby Horse Arms in Uxbridge.
The Hobby Horse Arms in Uxbridge.

A Friday or two ago, after my wife and I had each endured a long, tough week, the two of us decided we needed a break. We chose not to eat in, but to treat ourselves. We dropped by the Hobby Horse, a local pub in Uxbridge, to enjoy a favourite beverage and meal and some relaxing down time. Of course, part of the experience of treating ourselves included enjoying one of the best servers in town – B.J. Byers.

“Hey, how are two of my favourite regulars?” B.J. said as we walked in.

“Great… now,” I responded.

A Watcher has passed

A dozen years ago, I got involved in the annual community variety show, uxperience. Our publicity committee came up with the idea of running profiles in the local paper of cast members during the weeks leading up to the show.

That year, we profiled the members of probably the most popular reprising characters of uxperience, “The IGA Watchers.” The three amateur comics in the sketch were veterinarian Fred Cotie, high-school teacher Steve David, and resident Ken More. At one point we asked the three about the success of the IGA Watchers sketch.

“We just do what we’re told,” Fred Cotie said in jest.

“Steve does what’s in the script,” Ken More said. “Fred doesn’t.”

“Yeah, they’ve been riding on my coattails all these years,” Steve David kidded.

“I’m actually just a prop for Fred and Steve, that can walk,” Ken More concluded.

Food for thought

Post card of The Double T Diner in Baltimore, Maryland, c. 1960.
Post card of The Double T Diner in Baltimore, Maryland, c. 1960.

It’s kind of like breezing by Baked at Frankie’s on a summer morning. Frank and Donna Van Veghel are sitting on a bench out front taking a break, sharing a coffee and the day’s news. Or, it’s like arriving at The Tin Mill when Don Andrews is there at the door greeting his guests. My wife, my sister and I were travelling back from the U.S. through Pennsylvania last weekend. North of Harrisburg we stopped for breakfast at a roadside restaurant called Angie’s Diner.

“Is there really an Angie?” I asked the waitress.