27 August 2009

LoveHate England

I know lots of you share my despair and hilarity at the tsunami of ridiculousless that abounds us. Here's a classic:

First 'Great' Western. Paddington - Penzance (I'm sure you will agree that we should legislate to prevent them using the term Great in their company name - there is certainly nothing great about this train company). I'm in first class; it wasn't much more expensive, it's a busy weekend and I want to do some work. The trolley has been past but it was a lot less interesting than Julie Walters's. So I head to the buffet and order a mint tea. Said tea is prepared. I ask if it's complementary.

At least I think that's what I ask. However given the poor gentleman's facial reaction I think I must have actually asked if he would care to fellate me in the toilets; and whether such a service was also complementary.

Excessively flustered, he asked to see my ticket. So I trundle back to my seat to retrieve my ticket. The inspector, standing next to me at the buffet, looked at his feet expectantly rather than choosing to tell his colleague he knows I'm in first class. I return with my ticket and notice my hot, freshly prepared mint tea no longer adorns the counter top. I look bemused I suspect - as the ever-so-familiar here we go again feeling rushes over me. The steward can't catch my eye and shuffles slightly.

"Err.. where is my tea?"
"Ermm, yes well Sir, I had to, I had to, err, I had to put everything back in the right place, put things back in order so I can make you the right complementary tea."
"But I want the tea you've just made me."
"It wasn't complementary."
"But you already made it, don't worry, I'll just buy it. Can I have it back please?"
"Are you telling me you've thrown it away?"
Shuffle, sidestep, shuffle.
"The complementary teas have a different cup size? Is that what you are trying to tell me?"
"And a different brand, Sir."
(No points for guessing which direction on the size and quality scale is taken by the complementary version ....)
"The trolley service is on the way Sir."
I'm struggling with how this relates to my tea.
"But I just want my tea. This is ridiculous."
I feel bad: "I'm sorry, I don't mean you, I'm talking about your company policy."
The staff exchange glances. admissive glances.
I get my smaller, lower quality mint tea and thank them. My original tea irrigates the weeds on the track somewhere just west of Taunton.
England, oh England...

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