Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Terminal Grumpiness.....with Coffee.

Hullo ma wee blog,

My lovely G was away for the weekend. Off back to Switzerland to see the extended family before Christmas. This time she took a friend instead of me going along so I also had the chance to go and catch up with my brother across on the west coast for a night out. To kick off her long weekend I took her to the airport and being what nowadays appears to be a perpetually grumpy old man, there are few places guaranteed more to bring my alter ego to the fore. The closer I get to places like that the more my Jeckle turns to Hyde and by the time I come off the main road onto the airport approach my grumpy radar is in full operational mode.

I am, or at least I think I am, a generally responsible and sensible member of the human race, but if anything gets me frustrated its being confined by rules, rules, rules and regulations. The nanny state in full flow; Dont do this, dont park here, dont leave that down, dont pass this point, dont wait, stop, go, wait and on and on and on: Dont pass 'GO', Dont collect £200. DONT, DONT, DONT! Forbidding lots of stuff I'm never NEVER going to do, and neither is 99.9% of the human population. The sensible, the sane, the ordinary! And I hate all those advisory signs warning you to be careful, mind the step, coffee is hot, may contain nuts { almost everything these days may contain nuts as a means of avoiding being sued} mind the gap as you step on the train, Caution water is deep, smoking may damage your health...

{Caution - stupid signs may raise your blood pressure}

Why oh WHY do we have to constantly cater for the lowest common denominator of intelligence and personal responsibility?


So, at least you know the frame of mind I'm in when I get to places like that. Too much time in a past life spent waiting, waiting, waiting for what is supposed, what is advised, what is meant to happen. A flight leaving at the right time. An understaffed check in not stuffed to bursting with similarly frustrated people, a conveyor belt that works, a computer that isn't crashed, a person who appreciates that it really spoils your day when simple things just dont work and no apology or worse, no effort is being made to resolve the issue. Not only things that don't work but things that conspire to make you dig your heels in. Obdurate. Obstinate. Argumentative.


The short stay {expensive} car park, has now been reduced by more than half for a 'fast track' car park which costs £21 to enter for even a minute which makes the 2 hr max for £6 seem reasonable by comparison. It does however mean that I have to park at the far end of the short stay car park and lug the cases to the terminal as there is no sign of a trolley bay except in the barriered off 'fast track' section.

Next we queue to check in at the automated self check in machines. Except the first one has a 'hardware' problem and advises us to try another machine. { funny how when these are all working fine there are usually two staff on hand to help but when one is down they are suddenly absent}

The next machine works and goes through the pre programmed questions:

'Did you pack this yourself?'


'Did anyone ask you to carry anything for them?'


'Are you carrying any of these {photo's} proscribed items?'


'Thank you - proceed to 'fast bag drop'

{This is a queue of equal size to anywhere in the airport on the last weekend before Christmas, but hey, I can understand that.}

20 mins later we step up to the counter.

'Hello, can I have your passports? {Already checked!}
'Where are you travelling to?' {Already checked!}
'How many bags are you checking?' {Already checked!}
'did you pack them yourselves?' {Already checked!}
'Are you carrying any of these {indicates poster} items?' {Already checked}

At this points Mr Grumpy steps up to the mark and says,

'Excuse me, but what is the point of you asking all these questions that we have already been asked and answered at your superb and probably very expensive self check in machines?'

'I'm sorry sir, but the company requires me to ask these security questions. Has anyone asked you to carry anything?'

'I understand that, but what I don't understand is why we have had to answer all these questions back there at those machines {pause while I thumb over the shoulder} when you are asking them again here, {looks back} twenty feet away. Can you please tell me why we are being asked the same thing twice? It doesn't feel very fast, or customer friendly or even "any" faster than all the other queueing systems. And no, no one has asked us to carry anything'

'Sir, do you mind. We are very busy and you're holding up the queue {raised eyebrows} asking these questions.'

'Actually, Yes I do mind. What is it that makes this a 'fast' bag drop when you are taking exactly the same time to check in just our bags that everyone else fully checking in is, when we have already allegedly 'checked in' into your system - as your company requires - back there' {frown and maintain eye contact}

'Sir, please be reasonable.......'

'Excuse me?'

'Excuse me? Please be reasonable? PLEASE BE....

A hand, small, beloved, and very insistent pulls at my sleeve.

'Its not you who is checking in.......it's me. Give it a rest.'

{an exchange of raised female eyebrows takes place}



But I am being ignored and can't do anything but fume, impotent, on the sidelines. But I know I'm right. Ok, timing may not be the best, but I'm still bloomin' right.
The women conclude the business at hand and the lovely G turns to leave but I manage to say

'And if I cracked under those questions missus, I must have failed my basic terrorist exams!'

Two middle aged guys in the queue snort approvingly and we have supportive eye contact as I am led off.

'Honestly, you're a right embarrassment sometimes......'

{Wonder if I should be disappointed its just sometimes?}

We head to the internationally known coffee house in the lower part of the terminal.

I love good coffee but hate these global coffee houses. I was brought up in a time and a country where you asked for coffee and the only question was "black or white?"
Now dont get me wrong, I know the staff are generally very hard working, and I dont think that choice is a bad thing, but it isn't necessarily always a good thing either and these days some companies seem to think that they are offering a better service by offering more and more choice - like more choice proves better service - think of almost any companies automated telephone services - badly handled or understood or just plain bewildering in its complexity, frustrating in its multi layers of numbered options menus when all you want to do is speak to a human being. So although I dont think choice is bad per se, and I dont begrudge anyone their right to a half caff mochachino with skim milk and a twist or whatever they bloomin want, I also resent being made to conform to all this describing everything to the last detail when a request is actually just simplicity itself.

In the mood I'm in going to a Costa is probably not the best thing right now.......

After queueing my lovely G orders an expresso and an Italian biscuit.

My turn.

'I'd like a small black filter coffee with hot milk on the side please'

A blank look slowly turns to consternation.

'We have cappuchino, latte, expresso and Americano......'

I give my best Paddington stare.

'Aye, well I'll have a small black filter coffee with hot milk on the side. Please!'

I know. I shouldn't. I fold my arms and give him the stare. Again.

There's a wee bit of panic in the eyes.

'We've got regular, tall and grande.'

As I repeat my request again for the third time, maintaining eye contact and just a bit more slowly for emphasis, I notice his head begins to nod with each word. It seems to be getting through.

'Would you like skimmed, semi skimmed or........'

He doesn't have time to finish and I am still seeing the imaginary red dot of a laser sight on his apron when the lovely G again appears by my side and snaps me back to reality with a 'you go and sit down. I'll see to this.'

As I go the lad almost whimpers thanks to my lovely G.

I know I'm going to get it in the neck in a minute though.

probably just as well I'll be mainly on my own this weekend.

sometimes I'm just so grumpy......... I could grump for Scotland!

see you later.

listening to Ed Alleyne Johnson 'Oxford Suite'


Anonymous said...

Oh Al, I'm sorry .,.,
Have I turned you into this ?
I thought half way thro' that tirade that it was one of my old Blogs .,.,
Superb, a fantastic rant, welcome to the team !! Scudder

Alistair said...

Praise from Caesar!


p.s. not your fault. I'm just built this way too.


Unknown said...

You know, you made even that entertaining. Thank you, I needed a good grin. Hope her return trip is easier on you.
Merry Christmas,

lom said...

you do make me laugh.

Have a Merry Christmas

The Sunday Posts 2017/Mince and Tatties.

Mince and Tatties I dinna like hail tatties Pit on my plate o mince For when I tak my denner I eat them baith at yince. Sae mash ...