I think the UK may be in very serious trouble emotionally and psychologically. Yesterday within an hour of exiting the terminal building I saw things that were deeply disturbing. The Hotel shuttle bus driver was half drunk (I think) because he slammed the brakes at a roundabout and came within inches of the rear of another car. I saw another chap blaze through a turn at an intersection full throttle and he had the most awful look of scorn on his face. At the coffee shop in front of my hotel I saw no smiles at all. No one. Not even the staff looked up and gave any smiles or welcome. It was as if they hated every person in the place. I left and bought nothing.
And the penultimate insult happened after I checked into my hotel (One of the accor group of hotels). In a public restroom in the lobby … a cleaner yelled at me because she was in the process of cleaning the area and I was not allowed to be in there. There were no signs on the restroom door to state that cleaning was in progress. Would you believe that when I challenged her for raising her voice she actually gave me the finger????!!!!
Well after that I went nuts and gave her a good old-fashioned telling off. I went back to the front desk and called the manager, lodged a complaint, got a full refund, checked out and was given a suite compliments of the Accor group at another hotel nearby for the inconvenience.
So here I am in a bathrobe and slippers with a lovely cup of tea and thinking what on earth has gone so wrong with the minds of some of our UK friends? I cannot imagine what a visitor would think should they witness these things. The only smiles I have received since leaving Terminal 5 have been … well … none. What a stark difference from where I just was! On the other hand I have kept smiling and stayed in good spirits partly because I stood up and said “enough” after the hotel incident.
I should say that the hotel management did apologize profusely and did not hesitate to give me my refund and arrange other accommodation. It would appear that for some in the hospitality industry there is a sense of responsibility and hopefully the terrible cleaner will have a good speaking to by her bosses. But to be honest I doubt that.
I have heard that the UK government is starting an international ad campaign to show London as a welcoming and lovely place full of smiles and goodness. Oh you have to love a little propaganda.
Lets see if I can keep smiling for the next 12 days before my trip to Hong Kong.