It’s my Opinion

THE service industry has never been valued in this fair and green island, which in my opinion is terribly sad, given its importance in our day to day life.

Contact with those who look after our needs on the high street is paramount to the development of any forward thinking society. So why then do we hold these worthy people in such low esteem? Or, indeed, why do the same shop assistants, waiters, bar staff, petrol station staff and the like have such a poor opinion of themselves?

The two questions are in fact directly linked to each other, for if we - the great unwashed British public - continue to rubbish those who look after us, how can the same staff feel good about themselves?

The answers, if indeed there are any, can be found in the attitudes of employers who do not see the need to best prepare the staff who face the public, day in day out.

Serving the public is in fact a skilled task, so where then is the training programme for these good souls? Non - existent it would seem.

But then, if our secondary schools continue to insist that going on to the world of academia is the ultimate, followed by directing students to high profile jobs, we will continue to struggle to convince those in the service industry that they are making a vital contribution to society.

My own experience suggests that we have some highly skilled, well motivated staff who do their employers proud, regarding the public as real people who must be treated well.

On the other hand we have others - in the minority, I’m pleased to say - who view the public they serve with total contempt, not to say disregard.

For example I am fed up with the response after being served on hearing the words ‘no problem, or ‘nae bother’ from disinterested staff, if indeed they speak at all.

But if you really want to see me getting angry it is when I see the way in which members of the disabled community are treated and viewed by not just shop staff, but also intolerant members of the public.

Patience is nowhere to be seen, as they queue behind disabled people, clearly wishing these ’passengers’ were not holding them back from their busy and in their opinion more important lifestyles.

Whatever happened to tolerance? Out the door, rather like any semblance of a training programme for service industry staff.

We deserve better, as indeed to the aforesaid staff who battle on despite believing they are second rate citizens on poor wages.

The sooner we face up to valuing our public services, the more rewarding it will be for all of us who believe in a fair and equal society in which we all have a major part to play.

Why, we might even get round to thinking our local politicians are important, even if they are the worst trained of the lot.