Wednesday, 22 August 2007

We all wish Derry didn't exist but come on....

"Fuck it Marsha I don't know where Derry is.
Let's just go to Scotchland instead"


A Canadian tourist who got shafted something shocking by an employee of Translink (bus company) may have something to say about Belfast's ability to deal with tourists. When she asked where the bus to Derry went from she was told Derry "..didn't exist". Sweet Jesus how much of a bigot do you need to be to do something like that? She was told to try the train station instead. The train to Derry takes much much longer than the bus and nobody would ever do it. The guy was being a total dick. Catch a fucking grip will you. And if Derry doesn't exist where the hell is my ex-wife from?

Northern Ireland has no big industry anymore, we don't build new ships anymore, we don't produce clothes in the numbers we used to, we don't build planes in the numbers we used to. We have to look to other ways to build the country in the wake of the new sunny disposition we find ourselves in. Tourism is the way forward if you ask me. We have a lot to offer. Tourists now make up a very high percentage of my customers at work now. Awh, they make me laugh with their funny ways and funny languages....


"Hello, do you have reservations this evening?" I ask in my convivial and if I may add, welcoming manner. (This is made up then - LMM)

The man in the expensive waterproof mac, proper walking boots, newly purchased Aran sweater, and clutching his wife in one hand and Lonely Planet Guide (They love us!) in the other replies with,

"We are two"

"Two?" I say whilst fingering the booking sheets for no real reason and playing dumb. No need by the way, no need at all. Save for amusement purposes.

"Two for foods and some things to drink" he replies, pointing at the menu.

"No res-er-va-tions then? No?"

"Ah!.." he gets what I'm on about "...no, no reservations, we just came here from today. We arrive on bus from Dundalk." He pronounced the "l" in Dundalk and this made me smile which the chap mistook for approval.

I stopped messing about and got them seated beside the window. The rest of the meal was as amusing as the start. It's the mispronouncing of everyday things that makes me laugh. For example SmithWicks is popular with the tourists (The "w" isn't pronounced). As is the champs instead of champ and we have all read my story of the Bish visky man. I try were possible to correct them, without coming across cheeky. I even had an elderly lady ask me when should she eat her champs, with her lamb or after. I nearly choked, I thought she was taking the hand out of me.

I enjoy serving tourists at work. Bloody good job too as there are so many of them coming to Belfast now. Belfast is still finding it's feet when it comes to handling tourists. So we still find them as an oddity. Odd why they would come here and odd in their ways and mannerisms. Europeans like bread with everything, if they were having bread as a main course they would ask for some bread on the side. Honestly they seem incapable of eating any meal with out 20 or 30 slices of bread to accompany it. But we know that now and raise the price of bread when they come in. Only joking. We give them less so they have to buy another portion, only joking or am I?

Americans are fucking great. My God I love them and their uber-tastic tipping. Now you have to work for the money but by Jesus it's worth it. 20, 30% AND MORE SOMETIMES! The only draw back to serving Americans is the amount of questions they ask. They ask questions that no local would even dare, "Where you from? What religion are you? Have you been or do you know anyone involved in terrorism? Do you know John Joe McFarmer, he's from Cork? It's like they are all CIA agents or something. And only the brightest amongst them get my jokes and little asides. I hear them as I walk away from the table laughing to myself at some witty line I have just delivered with their entrees, "What did he say? What did he mean? I dunno?" Then they ask you what you meant and the life is sucked out of you.

Americans, as you will be aware, get a bad rap in the media and well everywhere, but I like them. They are almost always warm and friendly. The introducing themselves thing still takes a bit of getting used to, "Hi I'm Bob and this is Barbara and we are form Maine and we just love it here in Ireland..." Americans are for the most part good fun and like I say the greatest tippers of all. God bless you and your long dead Irish Granny...

The worst, and I'm sorry to say this I mean no offence eh you know who you are, are the Canadians. They are very pleasant to serve and cause you no grief in that respect. But for 2 hours or so you thought you were serving big tipping Yanks but when the bill comes you find out it was cheap ass Canucks! They are happy to display their Maple leaf badges etc when they are going through airports and what have you but it's oh so different when they walk into a restaurant. Get it sorted eh. The same goes for Australians. Another cheap ass bunch of tight fisted sods. They have their opposite in the good people from New Zealand. The Kiwi's tip well and have better manners than their near neighbours.

We have always had tourists coming to Belfast. But they were only here for two reasons, to track down or visit family and to "survive" a visit to war torn Belfast. They got their photo taken outside of Europe's most bombed hotel and beside some mural glorifying some terrorist or other. It was as if nothing else had ever happened in the North of Ireland, that history only started in the late 60's. But those days are essentially over. Now the tourists have money. Most have no connection to the country at all. Sure they still get their photo's taken beside murals and we shouldn't try to hide the events of the last 30 years. But we must show them that the history of the country is more than Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams and yer man from the buses.

22 People trying to get Manuel's attention:

Medbh said...

What do Canadians and canoes have in common?
They don't tip.
It's an old joke, but accurate. Canadians stick to 15% as the highest amount they will tip for the most part, so I make up for it when we go out, or tell people point blank how much to leave. I get away with being bossy over food and tipping.

Manuel said...

15% were are these Canadians! Waiters will weep at your grave when you pass away....

The Hangar Queen said...

Great post that should be put on posters in every bus in NI.

My base tipping rate is 20% and you would have to work hard NOT to get it.That's restaurant.Different story at the pub where over-tipping earns you scorn and derision.

Anonymous Boxer said...

It's the guilt. That's why we likey to tip. Or maybe because we're apologizing... you know, for being American. Either way, it works. BTW, do YOU know any terrorists? Hmm?

Conortje said...

Can you believe I've never been to Belfast - I'm going to go and take my Lonely Planet and track you down ;-)

tallulahbloom said...

Hmm Tipping always makes me nervous and I always end up wildly generous or very very tight. Had a newbie at work on Monday, an American who asked me what the system of tipping was in the Netherlands and I had no idea what to say. So I just said tip if you get good service? Probably not my best bit of advice especially as I seriously doubt he will get much good service here.

gimme a minute said...

Comedically, this is a real step up from petrol bombing. And victimless too.

What? You said they didn't tip, right?

Old Knudsen said...

Again you get paid so I'm no tipping ya.
Yanks are the same on my blog they talk to everyone as if they are their best mates. For any tourists reading this its Londonderry, not Derry or Free Derry. And if you want to go there yer a mong. Theres a reason they call it the Bogside.
You can go anywhere for ruined castles but real live terrorists are more exciting.

sheepworrier said...

I was feckin ragin when i saw that on the news. The employee should get sacked - no excuses, no questions, just straight out the door.
What sorta impression does that give of our wee country, eh? Still feckin living in the 70s? Fuck 'em, and everyone that looks like 'em.

Me an a group of mates met an american fella in a city centre pub one nite who was travelling on his own. He seemed a bit lost so we asked him if he wanted to tag along with us. He ended up havin a great nite and an awful hangover - but went home with a sense of the real Norn Iron people, not some bigotted translink prick.

ahhh, much better now.

fatmammycat said...

What a stupid twat that driver was.

Deborah said...

What a complete ass!

Love the mispronunciations. I waitressed in my college days in the states and someone once ordered a carafe of merlot, saying a car-AYF of mer-LOTTTT! Argh! I've also had people asking for the "quickie" when they wanted the quiche. At least I think they wanted the quiche! ;-)

As for the Yanks being good tippers, when I worked over there we'd freak out when foreigners came in because we knew it meant no tip. They didn't know our base wage was $1.85 an hour!!! Anytime I hear any of my Irish friends going to the states I lend them my handy tipping card, which rounds up various bill amounts adding a tip of 15 and 20%. Very handy. Of course they are all appalled that it even expected!

Manuel said...

Hangar Queen: Thanks. I'm like you, it takes a lot for me not to tip. Bus drivers etc don't get tips, wonder why...

Anonymous Boxer: Guilt! HAHAHAHA! Eh, no comment...

Conortje: SHAME ON YOU! You don't need to track me down. Where ever there is laughter and the sound of friends, where ever the wind blows warm and people are happy and people are are peace with their world, that's where you will find me, crying like a baby or lying in a pool of my own piss n vomit....Or at work, where ever' easiest for you...

bendersbetterbrother said...

Ah, Translink. It seems they've identified the person in question. That place is so fuckin' unionised though that they won't even be able to discipline him for fear of a walk-out.
In fairness to him though, and bigotry aside, he was no less helpful than Translink employees normally are.

As for tips, what do you normally get as a tip, from the locals.

Manuel said...

Tallulahbloom: Don't be nervous, embrace it! And remember there is no such thing as too much...

Gimme: Canadian, asking for it....

Old Knudsen: I thought this would smoke you out. Why would you wanna go to Derry any way? Horrible place..

Sheepo: I think we have all done that at least once. God the amount of people we met in Lavery's over the years and then took on walkabouts. Translink were never famed for their customer service...

FMC: Very, it was actually the guy at the information point, but the sentiment is still the same..

Deborah: I worked in a coffee shop for an eternity, people used to ask for "Capaseenos" and "Chipabata bread" instead of Ciabatta. Made me laugh...

Manuel said...

Bendersbro: I'd like to think the Union wouldn't stand for that sort of shite either. And you're right they aren't normally very helpful at the best of times.

Tips from the locals varies hugely, anything from 5 to 20%. Customers don't tend to think in percentages here. They round up the bill or they add on straight amounts like £5 or £10. Some just don't tip. We never forget. I've knocked people back for a table when the restaurant was empty. People are given a chance to redeem themselves but persistent offenders are fucked...

OneForTheRoad said...

A mate from Tallaght was workking behind the bar in a pub in Innsbruck in Austria.

This yank waddles up top the bar and asks for a whiskey.

Whatever brand they had to hand wasn't good enough for the American.

"HEY BUDDY! I DON'T WANT NO FUCKING PROTESTANT WHISKEY! MY GRANDFATHER WAS IRISH YOU KNOW!"

My mate looked at him and went "yeah?......SO was mine" and poured his drink.

John Cav said...

An American once ordered a "pint mug of Baileys lager" whilst I was working in a bar in Galway.

I controlled the incredible urge to giggle, and then politely told him that we were out of Baileys lager at the moment. And that he should try the bar next door... I just couldn't deprive another bar man of that laugh.

Was I wrong?

The Little Cheese said...

What do you MEAN Kiwis are the best tippers? Jeez, you should try serving them in London. They are rude, brash and NEVER tip. But the men are usually big and sexy so they can do what they want I guess...

Enda P said...

Gawd, this tipping business in the US is a nightmare. I remember tipping 10% in a nice restaurant in New York a few years ago when I was struggling with cash and was being the big man for the bf's birthday. THEN I read that 15% is the norm....

*And* they brought out a little cake wit a candle for his birthday.

Forgive me, nice waitress lady! Cringe.....

Manuel said...

oftroad: awh bless his cold black heart, what a twat...

John Cav: You are to be applauded for your generous spirit! Pint of Baileys, Jesus wept...

Cheesy: Only in comparison to the Aussies...

Ends P: Your sins are absolved now go forward with 15 to 20% in your mind and never dwell on it again...

Aussie Girl said...

I'm mortally offended that you think Aussie's are bad tippers!! We are a bit slow though, all that drinking takes it's toll, you may need to drop some hints ay.

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