I have a new hobby! It’s quite a strange hobby, and it has come somewhat out of the blue: complaining.
Complaining is a very un-British activity. Traditionally, due to a deadly mix of politeness and stoicism, a British person will choose to accept the bad service, terrible food, rudeness, ill-manners presented to them and graciously pretend that everything is not only fine, but excellent, so as not offend. I have lived this way for many years, but for some reason over the last few months things have changed…
I remember in my youth that my Mum was a very active combatant in certain situations. If someone pushed in front of her in a queue she would let them know she was angry about it. Even if someone was a little slow in arranging their change when paying she would “tut” and roll her eyes. I think that this, rather than inspiring me to follow her example, actually pushed me the other way. I hate upsetting people or being seen to be ungrateful so I have avoided the conflict that accompanies complaining as much as possible.
However, when Amanda was away this summer I arranged for some flowers to be delivered to her as part of her birthday present. A lovely birthday surprise: she wakes up on her birthday, there’s a knock at the door, and she is presented with a lovely bouquet of flowers! Hooray! The service provided was top class apart from one thing: they delivered the flowers exactly one week early.
I complained, boy did I complain. I let them know that not only did they ruin the surprise, but that Amanda then thought that I’d forgotten when exactly her birthday was and that I was in big trouble. The company was actually very good and sorted me out a refund and an apology. However, they have now created a monster. I now LOVE writing complaint emails and take a huge amount of pride in them. I shall now have no fear in sending back food if it’s not quite as I ordered. I may even start telling people off in the street. Who knows where it will lead?
I know it is a hugely sweeping statement, but Americans are much more brave when it comes to this than we are. Maybe Amanda’s ways are slowly rubbing off?