- The pace of a lot of the work in the public service is "frightfully slow"
- The tardiness in the public service regarding many things, including appointing people and paying people; "... a very frustrating process to many individuals inside the public service and those outside of the service"
- Generally, time did not seem to be of major importance. "People don't seem to realise that time is money"
Pay in the public sector is clearly not related to work performance. I heard this week of a person who called a government office and got no reply. He let the phone ring and went to the office to find the line still ringing and the staff having a good old time chatting. I guess they were hearing challenged. I personally have little daily interaction with government departments but I have heard some horrible stories.
The problem of poor service is not confined to the public sector, as I have noted many times before. Interestingly, in this tourist-dependent economy, some of the most visible instances of poor service are in the hospitality industry. The columnist Stephen Alleyne expressed his frustration this weekend at going against his own better judgement, having "...vowed never again to patronise a South Coast restaurant following two separate instances of egregiously poor service that was dispensed to me and my guests." (see Advocate report April ...) It is instructive to read his whole story, and try not to boil over along with his retelling. Just a few extracts:
- The waitress said “Good night. Wuh you’ll having to eat?” keeping her eyes fastened to the notepad on which she was writing the order. No name (she wore a name tag that did not show her name). No smile. No comforting words.
- He marvelled at the style in which he and his guests were served their drinks: “Who ordered de rum ‘n’ coke? Who ordered de rum ‘n’ soda water? Who ordered de gin ‘n’ tonic".
I wonder if a psychologist needs to take a look at what is going on in the heads of people here. One argument I know may apply is the confusion about service and servitude. Coming from a slave history, it's understandable that the idea of voluntarily doing something well for someone else may not sit easily with many people. Is there a sense in which those who are supposed to serve feel that those they serve are beneath them? Is there the sense that providing service gives a considerable amount of control, by being an important 'gate keeper'--go through me or go nowhere, my friend.
My friends and acquaintances seem to think that the level of service offered by nationals is much poorer here than elsewhere in the region.