Welcome

Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

NISE has not produced nice people.

Barbados is out of touch with itself! I was headed off the island and could not believe what I was reading in the daily paper. According to the 2007 Annual Report of the National Initiative for Service Excellence (NISE), the "Smile Barbados Campaign [was] a success" blared the Advocate (see report). Apparently, this campaign had a "view to encouraging people to show greater respect for each other and appreciation for the things that others do to encourage people to say thank you more often". It's a lie! I have not seen any upsurge in smiling, thanking, pleasing, better appreciation of. If you don't believe me, let me call all the people I know who regale me with their horror stories every day. Printing and distributiong 200,000 Smiley stickers doesn't change a thing if people have no real sense of what the change is supposed to be. As we say, "You can take him out of the bush, but you can't take the bush out of him".

As I have noted before, this campaign has not been anyway near the airport, which is the first and last port of call for many visitors. It's where many first or only good and bad impressions are made. I am going to go no further than relate my latest experience at the airport. If you want to see un-NISE people start there.

Immigration officer: ............. (hand outstretched for my documents, no eye contact)
Me: Good morning.
Immigration officer: ............. (silence, followed by passport being stamped and pushed back through window)
Me: Thank you. Have a good day.
Immigration officer: ............. (silence, and look down at rubber stamp and fingernails)

I went on to have my bags checked at security.

Me: Good morning. I can never remember if I need to take off my shoes and belt.
Security officer: Tek out yu laptop.
Me: What about my shoes?
Security officer: Mi sey tek out yu laptop. You have coins or metal in yu pocket? Put de belt in de tray.
Me: I guess I keep my shoes on, then.

Then, as I proceeded I overheard (because it was loud enough) and saw the following:

Female security officer: Perlene, I did tell hi' to come check de people bag, an' he jus' kiss hi' teet' an' ignore me. I no' dealin' wi' he no more.
[She then gave pushed out her mouth at the "uncooperative" co-worker, meanwhile waving the scanner over the passenger standing in front of her, who was a little bewildered.]
Female security officer: Next! You wait till we go on break...I go fix hi.

We need NISE to do a "Mission Impossible" visit to the airport and detoxify the people who work there, either on the government's direct behalf or indirectly as contracted workers.

Same place. Different experience. I walk to the Executive Lounge at the airport (and I don't believe that there should be any difference wherever I am in the airport complex).

Me: Good morning, Mr. White.
Mr. White: Ah, Mr. Jones. Where are you travelling to today? Where is the little miss?
Me: I'm just heading to Jamaica. Little miss is in Nassau. Did you go to any Crop Over fetes or to Kadooment over the weekend?
Mr. White: No. I had to work here. Long days. Too tired. I'll call you when boarding is ready.
Me: Thanks. Get some rest later, then.

Fast forward. I arrive in Jamaica.

Immigration officer: Good afternoon. You visiting or live here?
Me: Just visiting. Why do you smile and talk?
Immigration officer: Wha' wrong wid you? Me is not rude. Of course me smile and say something.
Me: I think you need to go to Barbados and do some training courses.
Immigration officer: Why? Dey don' smile or talk there?

These simple difference make a huge difference. Nice is as nice does. Those people who are dealing with the bulk of the public at the airport are not nice. Let's see if NISE can get to them before it's too late.

3 comments:

Carson C. Cadogan said...

NISE is just another failed initiative of the Barbados Labour Party and it's party faithfuls.

Jdid said...

smile must have an alternate meaning. too many screw face people ready to schupse at a seconds notice in service positions on the island

Anonymous said...

I've Been there and the people really are just rude... they are not nice people at all, u just dont feel welcomed there i just wanted to leave