Are You Being Served?

AFTER meeting the full cast of My Little Pony movie at Comic Con 2017 in San Diego, California along with getting their autographs, it is only natural that my six-year-old daughter goes to see the movie. And as is the case with her daddy on wheels, I take her to the last show of the last day of airing at the movie theatre, right here in Dhaka.

There is nothing that can be a killjoy, except the look on the face of the attendant at the ticket booth. I knew I should have bought the tickets online or through the theatre's mobile app several days ago when we first decided on the Thursday afternoon movie date. Surely, it can't be sold out. I prepare myself to beg and plead to be allowed to stand in the back with my princess on my shoulders.

The attendant finally breaks the bad news: "Nobody has bought any tickets to this airing. We're not sure we'll show…"

I interject quickly lest my daughter not only comprehends the gravity of what has just been uttered, but the dire situation itself. Before she bursts into tears, I ask the attendant: "How many viewers do you need? I'll buy all those tickets. But you MUST show the movie! Look at her, do you have the heart to not…"

"Ok, ok. The movie will be aired. So, which seats do you want? Middle or rear or front?"

You gotta be kidding me! Are we competing with phantoms now for seats? Like there will be only two seats in there with the others cordoned off with yellow "crime scene" tapes!

We take middle seats armed with popcorn and soda (yes, this is an exception to the soda prohibition with a double dose of caffeine and sugar, myself included).

But daughter is disappointed. "Where is everybody? I don't think we're at the right place. Also, they're not showing any movies, just playing songs."

The screening hasn't started yet. Finally, the lights are dimmed and my daughter settles in for the joy ride in an empty theatre that I am thoroughly enjoying. I feel like the POTUS in his private movie theatre at the White House.

And then, after "silence is golden", "smoking is injurious to health" and "turn your mobile phones off", starts the previews. She is shocked, "Baba! I told you we are at the wrong place. They are NOT showing My Little Pony!" And not only that, the first trailer is that of the most violent of sorts. Thank Heavens its other accompaniment isn't there—sex.

Oh well, that is the second part of customer experience after the uncertainty of the airing of a movie—just throw in any damn trailer; so what if it's before a kids' movie?

The movie ends. She is enjoying running around in the empty theatre while I read every line of the ending credits. This is a habit of mine. I need to know about even those lugging the dollies and catering lunch to the movie crew. Halfway through the ending credits, my trance ends abruptly with a bark of an order from the theatre attendant: "You need to leave for the next movie to start!"

I do the math. We sat in an empty theatre for 20 minutes as the music played with the lights on and before the previews started. Let's add in another one minute to clean up the theatre which housed one and a half persons who cleaned up everything after them anyway.

Oh wait, I forget. This is Customer Service Part 3. I'm sure somewhere in the fine print is written the favours granted to us by the magnanimous theatre.

Customer service in Bangladesh is like golf: The scoring is in the other direction. "No soup for you!" As the Soup Nazi would bark in Seinfeld.

It's ok. We ARE programmed to survive on favours. I am reprimanded by the airline staff for missing my flight: "You should start early! You should know there is traffic and we close the check-in counter 45 minutes before the flight…" He is probably next going to refer to my university degrees as to why we "educated" people make these kinds of mistakes. Relax, man! I am the one who missed my flight. I'll go tomorrow, no sweat. Jeez!

And let's not even forget when we go to pay our bills, or our taxes, or worse, when we fly while being a remittance earner. If you're best in class, just throw in some class in your customer care. Doesn't hurt.

When it comes to customer service, I ask, are YOU being served? The answer: Yes, you ARE being served—a notice.

Naveed Mahbub is an engineer at Ford & Qualcomm USA and CEO of IBM & Nokia Siemens Networks Bangladesh turned comedian (by choice), the host of ATN Bangla's The Naveed Mahbub Show and ABC Radio's Good Morning Bangladesh, and the founder of Naveed's Comedy Club.

Email: [email protected]

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