Opinion and Analysis
State should learn to live within means
A Japanese airline has instructed its passengers that flight attendants will not help them with their luggage, do not have to be polite and complaints will not be tolerated. This is not a joke, it is a true story. A social media comrade sent me the link to this story that appeared in the Telegraph’s online edition on June 7.
According to the Telegraph, Skymark airline’s eight-point “Service Concept” guidelines were introduced aboard its aircraft in mid-May and stated that cabin staff would not help passengers stow their bags, that attendants were not required to use “polite language” when talking to customers and that the crew’s primary task is not to attend to passengers but to serve as safety personnel.
I take my hats off to an organisation that can proudly state that its customer service motto is “no customer service please; sitdown, put up or shut up!” It takes some big unmentionable body parts to be this bold.
I know many organisations here in Kenya that already exercise the same mentality but have never really had the guts to tell customers to go to hell but leave their money with the cashier.
But it’s not just organisations that are guilty of this behaviour.
I’ve seen professionals at it more than once. I’ll give a recent example of a visit to a well-known hospital at the ungodly hour of 4am last week.
My daughter was feeling poorly and was lying in the bed in the casualty cubicle when the doctor — a young, well put together gentleman — poked his head and half his torso through the curtain.
“Mumble, mumble, mumble” was the greeting followed by some solicitation about what had brought us to the hospital. The other half of his body remained behind the curtain, for all intents and purposes we could have been dealing with a centaur.
At some point I was convinced that either my child or myself was carrying the Ebola virus in a luminous pinkbag hanging off our necks.
Realising quite reluctantly that he would have to poke, prod and do all manner of physical exertions required to make a proper diagnosis, he peeled himself off the curtain and came to the bedside to do what needed to be done.
Oh, by the way, the volume level was still at mumble decibels so we had to guess exactly what was being said, asked and suggested.
He had, in summary, the bedside manner of a three-day-old corpse in a doctor’s coat.
The sad thing is, many of the doctors that I have experienced in this particular hospital’s Accident and Emergency (A&E) department have similar dispositions.
Don’t get me wrong.
I’ve figured that having a polite, calm and relaxing bedside manner is conversely related to the number of years in practice.
Most of the senior doctors from this hospital are absolutely wonderful and go out of their way to put you at ease. Must be experience that teaches them that anervous patient is a difficult patient.
Curiously, that’s not rocket science, neither does it take 15 years of experience to figure out. Since I can’t do much about the situation, I’m thinking of paying for my next A&E visit in air miles from — you guessed it — Skymark airlines.
In other completely unrelated news, our Budget was read last week.
Finance minister Njeru Githae said in a post-Budget interview that “we have to live within our means.”
Right. So you have a Budget that skids past the trillion shilling mark, you have tax revenues that are slightly higher than about half of that, you have inflation figures that are trending downwards on paper but my personal household expenditure continues to trend upward and I have been asked to live within my means.
I didn’t ask for a litany of commissions to be created that need to be populated by everyone and his ‘brother’.
Neither did I ask for a Constitution that has become obscenely insane to finance in one instant nor an election that is mind-blowingly expensive and I certainly didn’t ask for a budget deficit that is wider than the difference between my teenage and current body weight — child bearing notwithstanding!I am very worried.
Worried that any event that causes an economic downturn in this country will lead to significant austerity measures. I am worried that we are not ready for austerity measures, in fact no one ever is.
In April this year, a 77-year old Greek man killed himself in Athens’ main square, a few hundred yards from the Greek Parliament.
The pensioner shot himself with a handgun after his pension had been cut due to a series of austerity measures brought about by the Greek government following drastic cuts to public services, pensions and salaries and higher taxes to meet demands from international bailout lenders including the IMF and the EU.
He was one of several suicide victims in Greece and Italy who are feeling the pinch of government spending exceeding revenue and the happy-go-lucky attitude that drives the ridiculous habit.
Our budgetary habits are now overlapping the slow moving traffic on the highway to Eurozone hell. We need to take stock as a country and as individuals whether we have the fortitude and skill to drive the economic growth required to get ‘Serikali’ more revenue.
Only you and I can work to fund that grinding machinery called government.
Which government will provide the services we need and build the infrastructure we requireto enable us to undertake the economic activities?
I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking of starting an airline where my staff will not use polite language nor help you stow your bags. Wish me luck!