Spring Sunshine brings out the Smiles!

Spring Sunshine brings out the Smiles!

Something of a contrast to my last posting, this one is about smiles and service as well as some thoughts on both Europe and Brazil.

I had to go into town today. I had managed to run out of coffee – not something one is supposed to do as a quasi-Brazilian! Tut tut!

It wasn`t the only thing I needed but it was the one product that prompted the shopping trip today rather than another day. So I went to Waitrose, my preferred supermarket, only to discover that the particular flavour of coffee I normally purchase was out of stock. Now, the reason this is significant (for those of you not familiar with the store) is that Waitrose run a promotional scheme where you can choose up to ten items from a list of items through the store. So, as a regular coffee drinker, I had chosen a particular flavour as one of my preferred promotional items entitling me to a 20% discount on each of my ten items.

What should I do? – I wondered. There was another style of coffee which also had a 20% discount sticker, but as far as I was aware, one could only claim the discount if it was on YOUR discount list of ten items. Fair enough I thought, but perhaps they would make an exception today since my product was out of stock, so I picked up the alternative and when I got to the checkout, I asked the young lady on the checkout whether I could “…swap for the alternative today please?”

I gained the impression that my checkout person was fairly new to the store and, therefore, was unable to give me a quick answer, but she smiled brightly and immediately called a colleague over to help her answer my query. The local supervisor, also a young lady, hesitated only a millisecond as she pondered the query, smiled winningly and said, “No sir…”

But with no further hesitation she went on, “…since you have been disappointed that your first choice was unavailable, you can have this one on us. To make up for not finding the one you want, this one is completely FREE. Let me sort that out for you.”

She took the bag of coffee from me, quickly scanned it and pressed whatever appropriate button(s) she needed to press and then the checkout operator quickly and efficiently scanned the remaining products for me. I paid and then took myself to the service counter, where, as a customer with a “My Waitrose” card I was entitled to a free cup of cappuccino. Again I was served with a charming smile and a friendly word.

Then I left the store and was about to take my bags out of the trolley and carry them to the car when the trolley man hovered nearby – a man of a similar age to me with white hair and beard (I could have been looking in a mirror!) – and said, “can I take that for you”. I replied that “…indeed you can – now that is what I call `personal service`”. And I was rewarded with yet another smile.

As I was driving out of the car park, Mr Trolley-Man was helping a young mum (with a slightly naughty child, who had not been doing her bidding when she was in earshot of me; and a baby in a pushchair) by relieving her of her trolley so she did not have to leave car or children from her sight. Not only that but he was smiling very cheerily as he helped.

Perhaps the warm spring sunshine was helping to bring out the smiles today, but it was a heart-warming experience of shopping to experience.

No doubt it had all been part of the training experience of the members of staff concerned, but it was more than that. It was all done so naturally and – whether or not part of their training to enhance the customer experience of Waitrose – it has certainly enhanced my customer loyalty to the store and, to the extent my small readership may be influenced by my words of praise, it has engendered some free advertising for Waitrose!! Well done folks and `Thank you`.

Impeachment in Brazil

Talking of coffee brings me onto Brazil and you probably know by now that the vote on Sunday in the lower house of congress in Brazil was that the process to impeach President Dilma was voted for by over the two thirds majority required. It was definitely a political action by those undertaking the vote, but the process now has to go to the upper house in Brazil – the Senate – where they have to deliberate on the matter by looking at the evidence in a rather more legalistic way. It will still of course, be political and may yet go through, but – in theory at least – it should not be so overtly political.

The consequence of this is that Dilma will have to stand down from the presidency for 180 days whilst the process continues and Vice-President Temer will take over the reins of office. As I have said before both Temer and the Speaker of the Lower house, Eduardo Cunha, have much more personal corruption charges laid against them than does President Dilma. If it were me in her shoes I would certainly be very tempted to speak quietly to some friends in the lower house (if, indeed, she still HAS some friends!) and get them to start impeachment proceedings against Temer and Cunha.

Vindictive? Yes, but they clearly deserve it. There was an interview with one `woman in the crowd` after Sunday`s impeachment vote, in which she said. “Dilma deserves to be impeached – just as long as Temer and Cunha have to go as well!” This certainly seems to be the current feeling amongst many Brazilians – effectively a “Pox on all their houses” – but I do not feel particularly hopeful that the process will clean out the dirty political operators, rather than simply replace one slightly dodgy Party with another certainly dodgier political party.

OR… there will probably be an exacerbation of violence on the street and the army will be called in. I hope to goodness that will NOT happen, but it seems a very real prospect at the moment. So, do watch this space.

Back to Europe

And, from Brazil, let me bring you back to Europe. After my supermarket shopping trip today I also went to the garden centre to buy some bright flowers to plant in my tubs here at home. Whilst looking around and choosing, I came across a plant whose name made me smile for its (sort of) appropriateness. It was a cheery plant with bright yellow flowers and it was called EUREOPS, a plant I had never heard of before. The confused mis-spelling of Europe appealed to my slightly weird sense of humour and here is a picture of the two plants I bought.



What made me smile particularly was that when I was transferring the plants from their pots to their new home the roots had grown so much into and through the little pots that I had to cut off some of the roots in order to get the plants out of their respective pots. The analogy with our rootedness in the European community did not escape me and, whilst it made me smile it also made me feel sad it has come to this.

Some of you may even recall that back in 1975 in the last referendum on Europe I was a speaker on many political platforms throughout the East Midlands in favour of us remaining in the EEC as it then was and I was naturally delighted that we won the debate at that time, overwhelmingly. Let me say, here and now, that I believe our membership has been, by and large, for the good and I am and always have been unashamedly in favour of a more Federal form of government throughout Europe.

Indeed, I am disappointed that very little is being said (or at least if it is being said, it is not reaching our airwaves!) about the way Europe has contributed to constraining some of the worst excesses of the process of deregulation favoured by the Conservative politicians in the UK. Little is being said about the contribution to Environmental protection that would not have happened without active European intervention.

So, over forty years on and I still believe that our roots are deeply grown into Europe for the good and we should not wrench them out of the pot in the hope that they will survive intact outside the European growth medium! I shall be voting to Stay in Europe in a couple of months’ time, not out of fear of economic disruption, as portrayed by Chancellor Osbourne, but out of conviction that Britain is better within Europe and Europe is better with Britain inside rather than outside.

As I said at the beginning, this post has been something of a mixed bag today. My day has been made more cheerful by the smiles (and the free coffee) I received at Waitrose, which is pleasantly offsetting the concerns of politics in my two homes.

Smile and the world smiles with you. Enjoy!


About Keith Melton - Green Lib Dem

Retired English liberal environmentalist living in Nottinghamshire; spent six years in Brazil. Author of Historical Novel - Captain Cobbler: the Lincolnshire Uprising 1536. Active member of the Green Liberal Democrats - (pressure group in Liberal Democrats) - was Founding Chair of GLD in 1988
This entry was posted in Brazil General, Food and stuff, Humour, Life..., Politics and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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