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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Downtime in Antigua

The recent heavy swells kept us in English Harbour and Falmouth for a week, which was a good choice as we were very calm whilst many others suffered uncomfortable or even dangerous conditions in other anchorages. Having spent about a month in Antigua around Christmas, the place was familiar and easy to fit back into, we knew where things were, how it worked and were able to stay still, do a bit of exploring of places we missed the first time, and catch up on school, maintenance and so forth. We made a couple of new friends and caught up with some old ones from our last visit.

We also realise that, without fresh stimulus or purpose, we tire of these places fairly quickly. We aren't cut out for living on a boat in the way that some do, resting for many weeks or even months in the same island, even the same anchorage. We travel, we explore and we visit, but our itchiness to move on means that we don't truly discover and understand. As a young family, the focus is inevitably internal, making sure the kids are cared for and having fun rather than the more adventurous encounters we might have sought out before they came along.

Added to that, the occasional local frustration encourages us to head off to pastures new. I had fun in the little Falmouth supermarket the other day. After buying some fifty quids worth of groceries, I get back to the boat to realise that I've been charged twice for an item. It's only six dollars (about one pound twenty) but before christmas the same cashier in the same store charged me twice for a bottle of rum and we didn't go back because we sailed to Guadeloupe early the next morning. Now, the cashier had been distracted, she was talking on the phone while serving me, other customers came over to give her money they owed or something, and I can believe she made an honest mistake. Others suggest it's a regular trick in some stores. Either way, it should be easy to rectify.

I pick up a few items we need and go to the cash with my receipt, clearly showing two charges for exactly 1.71 pounds of cucumbers, highly unlikely I'd have bought two identically sized bags of those. The response from the cashier is interesting.

Me: Erm, I'm sorry but last time I was here I'm afraid I was charged twice for something.
She: (taking the receipt) Well, maybe you was hurrying me, hassling me.
Me: Err, no but that doesn't matter anyway, right?
She: Well, you should have come straight back, why didn't you?
Me: I bought them on Thursday, yesterday was Good Friday, it's Saturday morning
She: We was open yesterday afternoon
Me: Err, that still doesn't matter, right?
She: (giving me the money) You should check your receipt more carefully next time
Me: (getting a bit hacked off) I think you should charge me the right amount next time
She: Well now you're just being rude, mister

Now I'm a bit exasperated and the other customers in the queue, many of them other sailors, are looking at their shoes and smiling to themselves. I decide I'm not shopping here again (easy to say when you're leaving the island) and go for a final parting shot.

Me: (loudly enough for the queue to hear) Madam, where I come from if a store makes a mistake they just say sorry and give me my money back. That's all I ask. Goodbye.

I don't know if there was a response, I'd left. Hurumph. Probably reinforces the prejudice of stroppy rich sailors patronising the natives but sometimes, what the hell. Bad service is bad service wherever you are.

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Blogger Julia said...

I could not help but read the dialog with what I would think is the proper accent...your's a bit cockney-ish (it has been two+ years since I have been in the UK) and hers a bit Jamaican. All in good fun.

Sorry for the bad service though. Bad service is bad service no matter where you are.

Here is to better shopping experiences!


4:02 am  

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