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Deborah C Dooley Headshot

Me and My Grandmother

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Sometimes I think I may be turning into my grandmother.
I remember very well how, having flagged down a taxi, she would think nothing of rejecting it if the driver neglected to jump out and open the door for her. I also recall her propensity to abandon a heap of purchases on the counter and exit the shop with a toss of her well coiffed head, if she felt that the service being proffered was shoddy. And her stinging response to anyone - be they solicitor, travel agent or cleaner, who dared to treat her in a less than charming manner during their dealings with her.
And so I note with interest my growing dislike of being kept waiting by a shop assistant who appears loathe to abandon a phone conversation with a friend, in order to tackle the less entertaining task of attending to a customer. I am increasingly aware of feeling irritated with a checkout person who fails to acknowledge me or make eye contact. And invariably, when someone does their job with efficiency and grace, I respond with what can only be described as pure joy .
It may be a condition that increases with age, this intolerance of poor service. Or perhaps, since working in the hospitality industry myself, I have become more attuned to the importance of good customer service. When, a few days ago, I left a café, having become bored of waiting for the two waitresses to finish chatting and take my order, I was surprised at myself, but also slightly pleased at my own audacity. I pictured my grandmother, striding along, neat figure outlined in her nipped in waisted jacket.
'Come along,' she would say crisply. 'They're clearly not interested in us.' Her darkly crimson lips would curl, in what could have been a sneer but somehow managed to be rather attractive, and one perfectly arched and darkened brow would rise in a manner which left the offender in no doubt of their transgression.
Thanks to my grandmother, I know there's no need to shout or get excited around poor service. But it's important to register displeasure - and also to exclaim happily when you encounter the better kind.
Every now and then, I have occasion not just to exclaim, but to laugh aloud with happiness at the discovery of just such a thing. Staff who greet you with what seems like genuine pleasure, make it clear that nothing is too much trouble and are charm personified as they tirelessly respond to every request.
This was my experience during a recent stay at The Beach Hotel at Bude. The accommodation is clean and luxurious with spectacular sea views. But for me, the real USP is the warmth of its employees. Receptionists, cleaners, and even, recently, builders working on a bar extension, manage to combine impeccable politeness with a charming informality that ensures each and every guest feels - to be frank - cherished and loved.
My grandmother was a wonderful woman. Her waist was smaller than mine will ever be, her cheekbones higher and her stride more elegant. But I like to think I have inherited some of her qualities.