Shopping in Malaysia can be a frustrating experience; customer service is an unknown concept, and it’s not unusual to be ignored in a shop while the many, many assistants all stand around glued to their phones. I’m afraid that this attitude brings out the Mem Sahib in me, and I march up to one of them and say, ‘Excuse me, is this shop actually open for business?’ in ringing tones.
In a restaurant recently I asked the waitress about one of the dishes on the menu. She went into great detail about the way it was cooked, the size of the portion, suitable side dishes, and then said, ‘finish already’.
‘Finish already’ is a favourite phrase, meaning ‘we’ve sold out of whatever it is you want, and we don’t know – or care – whether we’ll ever get any more stock in. And what’s more, we don’t care if we stand around all day and don’t sell a thing – we don’t own the company.’
So, I was surprised to hear a shop assistant in a shoe shop really going the extra mile with the customer service last week:
Customer: I think I’ll take two pairs.
Assistant: Two pairs, Madam? So, do you mean left and right and left and right?
Customer: Well, … yes.
There are some rather unusual things for sale here too. For example – how about having your breast milk made into soap?
Just the thing for the Aunties at Christmas.
And my local deli sells Mozart Listening Chicken –
I was intrigued and googled the company, to discover that it’s quite well-known and has featured on the Smithsonian website –
I read about their philosophy –
– so Mozart leads to happier, less smelly chickens.
But I just imagine them all on death row squawking, ‘Oh no, not yet! Please can I just listen to the end of Eine Kleine Nacht -‘