Hello? Anybody there? (part 1)

The city life web and Facebook site AgenDakar is currently undergoing reconstruction but if and when it comes back I hope it quickly regains its place as a brilliant chronicle of life in a big West African city.

Here’s why.

A little while back, someone whose nom de plume is A Bad Ja has vented his or her spleen about the virtual non-existence of any sense of service in Dakar’s many shops and leisure facilities such as bars and restaurants and cafés.

I can relate. Here’s a scene. Office requirements shop, two minutes walk from my flat. Client walks in. Woman sits behind desk, watches computer screen. Deigns not to look up. So you…er…stand there until Her Majesty can be bothered to deal with the absolute nobody who just had the temerity to enter the shop and disturb Her Peace. After all, you’re only the client. The business depends on you, right? Her salary depends on you too, right? Yes, so? You have been, are, and will forever remain an inconvenience and a nuisance.

Get the idea? Here’s another one.

Furniture shop, big one. Five minutes walk from my flat. A young man sits behind the desk, on the phone, talking with a relative. I wander around the premises, looking for nothing in particular. No acknowledgement of my presence. Until I hit the stairs on the way up. And then there is a sharp…

“Monsieur, that staircase is closed.” Ah – so I suddenly commence to exist.

“I thought around here we say good morning first…”

We have the young man sleeping on the floor of a perfume shop who responded with complete amazement when I announced that I wanted…what???? Buy something? Are you insane? We had the lady running a retail outlet next door, who took a one  second break from the real life conference she was having with one of her girlfriends or relatives to respond to my question whether she had mineral water.

That was exactly one second more than the girl who did not even bother to put her phone down while I had to look on her computer screen to find out how much I owed the shop. Customers! Bloody nuisance I say! The first shop, by the way, has since closed. Goodbye and good riddance.

So let’s hear it from an exasperated A Bad Ja, laying out some of the basics of customer friendliness (and I paraphrase in translation):

One. You say “Good morning/afternoon/evening”. You are preferably the first to say it and preferably without a “sothiou” (toothpick) or chewing gum still in your mouth.

Two. You do not look the client up and down before replying to his or her “good morning”.

Three. You don’t criticise a client in front of another client, it gives us a creepy idea about what will happen to our own good selves as soon as we have left your establishment.

Four. You raise your feet while walking . Oh yes, A Bad Jah! The swish—-swish—-swish of slippers slowly mowing (no: it’s not a typo) themselves across the shop floor in my more or less general direction is certainly one of my pet hates – second only to…


Five. You do at least try and give us the idea that you like us being around, you know, paying you money to buy things and all that.

Six and most of all: if you haven’t got it, or cannot deliver, Let – Us – Know, preferably at the beginning of our exchange – not at the end. You are wasting our time with that.

AMEN to all that! And come back AgenDakar!

(Part Two coming soon)


One Response to “Hello? Anybody there? (part 1)”

  1. Reyaz Says:

    Hah, you thought that only happens in Senegal…think again MATEY!!!..even in Autralia all of the above points are studiously studied at the local TAFE…or so it appears

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