Everybody knows that American service comes with a smile and a “have a nice day”. But I’ve noticed that in certain, trendy-leaning places- like the hotel I’m staying in which has a frankly baffling leafy canopy over the lobby and glass floors with lights underneath so you constantly feel like you’re about to fall into a shining precipice; and last night I went for a single drink before bed and found I was expected to recline on a chaise longue- customer service people have a special way of being polite. I think they practice it in front of a mirror. The trick is to
a) Look slightly uncomfortable, as though you have to be somewhere in two minutes, or as though you have cystitis.
b) Pretend you have just smelled something really bad, and it has taken you by surprise, so you look both alarmed and repulsed at the same time.
c) Act as if the bad smell is definitely coming from the customer you’re speaking to.
Then smile widely and say “hi how are you? How can I help you today?”
Bad attitude from tiny, beautiful service industry employees aside, I’m having a rather jolly time in New York. Every now and then I almost gag with excitement at the feeling that I’m living like the lead character in a chick lit novel or 20-something sitcom (today I wore knee high boots, a poufy skirt and a pussy bow blouse for filming outside in October- I think I’m getting a bit carried away with the journo-gal-about-town theme).
Some parts are truly fabulous: tonight after filming I’m going for dinner with my reporter who is something of a national treasure. We are having drinks in his 78th floor apartment overlooking Manhattan first.
Some parts are fascinating: yesterday in Borders I saw a mother reading a Barack Obama biography to her toddler; and these Americans sure do love pumpkins- they are everywhere!
However, a lot of the time it’s business as usual: lugging equipment through the lashing rain , locking horns with grouchy old camera men, ringing round desperately trying to set up interviews, forgetting mid-sentence what shot we’re supposed to be getting, and generally feeling a bit sick with worry about actually having something to show for my efforts.