Wednesday 24 October 2007

Refusing the most expensive coffee

Train in traffic jam

It was just a few minutes past eight this morning as I sent a text message to my colleagues that I was already in Germany but our train had been caught in a traffic jam. Imagine!

Well, it so happened that the border station of Emmerich in Germany had all platforms occupied that our train could not traverse that area towards the first stop – Oberhausen.

It was not till late on Tuesday that I decided I would rather travel by train to Krefeld than car-pool with my young colleagues who had the tendency to floor the accelerator.

Besides, I do not travel well in cars for long distances, dizzy spells and nausea buffet me as the strongest mints are sucked to save me from car-sickness, trains are better for all sorts of reasons.

By the time we got to Oberhausen the train was running 35 minutes late, now, earlier in the journey as a 1st class passenger, I had been served coffee at my seat, so after so many trilingual excuses for the train delays we were offered a free drink to cool our rising tempers and impatience.

However, we all had to suffer the indignity of going up to queue for the drinks at the bistro showing our tickets as we got “compensated”.

I am growing increasingly annoyed with these seeming favour-driven no-fault gifts masquerading as benign compensation for services we have paid for.

If I had gone for that coffee, I would have acquiesced to having probably the most expensive coffee I have ever had from a paper cup on a train and this cannot be compared to the rates that the international corporate lawyer who shared my cabin would charge for 35 minutes of legal waffle.

Whilst the drink would have been free, it was no deal, rather, it was the situation where you are glibly offered a palliative thing on terms you have had no choice in negotiating.

On any given day, I’ll rather have the service I paid for than the compensation and if you must compensate it should be for the inconvenience I have suffered with my qualified input into the negotiations and an act of genuine contrition, feel some pain and make me happy – just do not patronise me – the coffee can make you sick – Yuk! Yuck!

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