Friday, September 28, 2012

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

Anyone that's worked the service industry knows that what the customer sees doesn't tell the whole story. Snobs send wineglasses back when they spot a thumbprint, then happily wolf down the T-bone that dropped to the floor as it was plated, rinsed off, thrown back on the grill for a quick re-heat and delivered to the table with a smile.

We joked that an establishment earned two of its five stars just for being in Alaska. Africa takes that to the next level. Don't get me wrong, the accommodations and food stand up to anyplace in the world, unless you need a daily newspaper and a plasma screen television to be happy. And if you do, you are one pathetic fuck.

The lodges here do their best to keep guests satisfied. For instance, two days ago we took a honeymooning couple on a scenic flight. Jacque (one half of the South African couple that runs EIC) ran to me as I headed out to pre-flight and handed me a bucket filled with ice, flutes, and a bottle of champagne.

On the other side of the coin, the only vehicle (land-based) that runs at the moment requires that the driver hold his door shut while under way cuz somebody (actually nobody fessed up to it, it just "happened") opened the door while backing up and hit something which bent the door past its hinge stops. It reminds me of when we used to show up at the train in Whittier with our old Chevy pick-up, "Don't worry, you're not renting the truck. Most of our kayaks float." Inner dialogue, 'Next train's not till tomorrow, sucka.'

But the service can only be as good as it can be. Tourists want to see natives employed at all the lodges? Cool. But if you're from Thailand, newly wealthy(meaning the children will be educated in private schools where they learn Queen's English but you weren't), and you request a special morning drink from your English-as-a-distant-fourth-language server, don't be surprised if you fall asleep on the boat. It's because your iced-coffee was an Irish-iced-coffee, because you said 'iced' twice and neither one of them sounded quite right.

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