Where have all the assistants gone?

More from our trip to Scotland and the differences between UK and Italian life/culture, etc.

We landed at the airport and had arranged for a taxi to take us to the city at which we were staying. There were quite a few of us. We knew about half the people and knew of, by reputation, most of the rest.

We arrived at the city and a group of us (about 6 or so) decided that we would go into town. V & I really wanted a Kentucky Fried Chicken fillet burger. I know it’s crap (junk) food but when you just can’t get something the old adage ‘absence makes the heart (or in this case, stomach) grow fonder’ was definitely in full swing.

Luckily, an Italian with us, F, was also very keen on this type of junk food and was also up for it. A couple of the others had never tasted it so had no idea. A couple of people returned to the hotel. We asked several people where the nearest (actually, only) KFC was. We had various answers, mostly quite vague. V saw Greggs and decided to have a sausage roll – as did F and one or two others.

I thought, whilst they were buying, I would find out definitively, where the KFC was. What I needed was a shop with helpful assistants. Aha, I thought; Marks and Spencer. So I walked in. The shop was spacious with plenty of room between the racks of clothes, something we rarely see here, in Italy. Something else that I hadn’t bargained for and had completely forgotten about was that, after wandering around for about 10 minutes, I still couldn’t find an assistant!

Here, in Italy, after about 1 minute an assistant would be there; offering their help. Here, in one of the most renowned stores in the UK, assistants were less than ghosts.

I gave up and went to a shoe repairers where some very pleasant local lassies gave me very precise and spot-on directions.

Later we talked about this within our group. It was consensual that, in the UK, we had driven this type of service out of existence. And, the more I thought about this the more I knew it to be true. In the UK, I used to get very annoyed if I was bothered by assistants. Sure, I wanted them to be there but only when I wanted them! Until then I wished to be left alone until I had selected what I wanted. I agree that I think the UK drove this away and I think that the UK is the worse for it.

Here, in Italy, good service – and having an assistant pay attention to you almost as soon as you walk through the door is very good service – is essential and very much expected. Here, and certainly in Milan, assistants are everywhere and I’ve got used to it now. I know how to react and use their assistance rather than discourage them from trying.

By the way, the burger was divine. I know that to you, my lovely reader, this is nothing special but to us the taste was a wonder on our tongues. I wouldn’t swap Italy for the UK but, sometimes, these things are missed.

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2 thoughts on “Where have all the assistants gone?

  1. I agree with the service thing. Although being on that side of things, I do always try to help when I see someone wandering aimlessly or looking confused. And I have to say that I fully agree with you on the Tower Fillet Burger. I deliberately go months without one just because they taste SO much better when you haven’t had one for a while. If you’re still around the UK, may I also suggest a Burger King Bacon Double Cheese Burger. They are very, very nice and whenever I go to Southampton for a change of scenery, I make sure Burger King is my first stop. Ok, I’ll stop writing now…

  2. Yes, I’m sure someone would have helped me – if only I could have seen an assistant. I guess it was the layout of the store. We do have Burger King here and the Bacon Double Cheeseburger was always my favourite. Somehow, being in the land of ‘fresh food’ makes the BDCB much less appealing but as we don’t have KFC it’s one of those ‘must haves’ when we get to the UK.

    V also wanted Fish and Chips but we never had the time for that.

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