Sunday, March 27, 2011

Land of the free

It is a universally accepted truth that service is great in America. Of course, one pays for it. As I have a reputation for being somewhat of a spendthrift, it won't surprise anyone to know that I am happy to pay.

Tip 12.5% to a surly London waitress who's avoided eye contact all night and never brought the tap water I asked for?* No thanks. Tip 20% to a smiley Los Angeleno, who enquired after my health and the quality of the food, and brought a nice sunny vibe to the table? Sure! Worth every penny.

Worth it too is the valet parking. As the badly scratched side of our lesbian Subaru, Ellen, can attest, I am not one for parking. I'm very very very happy to pay a strange man $5 to park her 10 feet away from where I left her. And if they don't give me a funny look for the way I pulled into the parking lot (wonky, stalling, fog lights on for no reason, etc) I'll tip them another $5.

Yup, not much comes free here. But I'm generally happy to pay.

Except where banks are concerned. My Wells Fargo branch has a coffee machine and water cooler, so I can refresh myself while I wait to be served. Except I'm never waiting, because no sooner have I set foot inside the place than I've been greeted in an almost aggressively friendly manner, by some eager young chap who'd like to help me if he can. Nice service. And at the cashier's desk, there's a little bowl of candy. Nice touch.

But this is a bank where I pay to write a cheque from my own account. And in a country where banks still charge you to use a different bank's card in their ATM. Oh, to be in England, where bank service is crappy, but it costs nowt.

*Don't shoot me Londoners! I know it's not all bad. I haven't forgotten Silvie at the Lord Palmesteron! But if I can't exaggerate national stereotypes for effect this blog just won't work...

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