It's a funny old world. This week, I experienced the best customer service possible and the worst.
Having seen a Facebook post, I discovered there was a spare ticket available for Jefferson Starship in Chatham, Kent.
I have loved Jefferson Airplane/Starship since I was very young and - even without Grace Slick - the prospect of seeing Paul Kantner and David Freiberg one more time was just plain irresistible.
To make a long and complex story short, I ended up in Chatham, Kent, UK with an hour and a half to spare before the warm up act would start.
My friend had paid 75 pence for postage but the tickets had not arrived.
So, off we went to the box office at the Central Theatre, Chatham.
We found the entrance and walked into the front door, having had a super view of the revitalised docks and a brief look at a whole lot of really unappealing restaurants.
Then, we encountered Ms Not Entirely Happy In Her Work (Ms NEHIHW). My friend headed for the toilets. "What's that?" said Ms NEHINW.
"Finding the toilet. Back in a minute", I replied, helpfully.
"They won't be open, yet", she said.
"Well then you will be dealing with an unhappy customer, in a minute", I said.
A few minutes later - I guess the toilets were open - my friend returned.
"It's the Royal Mail's fault. The Post Office makes so many errors" Ms NEHIHW said, brandishing returned envelopes and probably violating every data protection rule in the book in the process by showing us the details. Hey, I won't tell...She reprinted the tickets.
After that, she made it clear that nothing in the known universe might make her or Her Systems reimburse the postage cost, I (foolishly) asked for recommendations of where to eat, locally.
Usually, this works for me. Theatre and cinema staff almost always know the best places, near their place of work.
She said "Oooh, I don't know" at enormous length, eventually saying the Mediterranean place was "alright".
We wandered to the pub that had curry night. As it smelled of urine and vomit, but, alas, not curry, I scurried out quickly.
Did I mention I live in east London and have a cast iron stomach? Here's a tip for the discerning eater. Urine and vomit smells are never good things, when selecting an eatery.
So, the perfectly adequate and actually quite good Selale it was. The mixed grill was delicious.
We returned to the venue. I tried to tell her the half-hearted recommended place was okay, but she was far too busy studying her watch to care.
We went up to the balcony. I worked quite hard to push the assembled staff to show us to our seats but they made Ms NETIHW look like the employee of the year award winner.
Reader, I forced them to work. I made them help us find our seats. They so did not want to. I felt I was being difficult in suggesting I would like to find my actual seat.
After a perfectly okay opening act, My Beloved Remaining Jeffersons appeared.
Cathy Richardson now does Grace (and Janis Joplin and her own band which is a rather creditable Heavyish Metal group called either Microdots or Macrodots and worth seeking out) and she has a great set of pipes.
Paul Kantner can do the newest "just say no to drugs" campaign poster as he is only 71 and seems to need considerable help. But! Hey! Wow!
He is still Paul Kantner and I thrilled at seeing him, even though he has long lost his formerly fabulous voice.
David Freiberg can sing better than ever, even though he was born in 1938. A little chubby but eyes and hair to die for and a voice that has improved in depth and tone with age. When he did Robert Hunter's achingly gorgeous "Harp Tree Lament", I very nearly cried.
It was a fabulous evening. I was the only person dancing throughout and I really don't care what anyone else thought, at all. Reader, if I had died then and there, it would have been a happy end, except that I would have had to have my body get dealt with by the Rather Lazy Staff.
I exempt the wonderful Sarah from my assessment that most of the staff at this venue are Not Happy In Their Work at all. Get Sarah to run the place, I say. She actually seemed seriously concerned when I said I was going to blog about the atrocious customer service at the theatre. Marvellous Sarah, just for caring.
Part of the tour information on Facebook says "We don't play 'We Built This City'"". With a back catalogue including "Crown Of Creation" (thank you John Wyndham), "Volunteers" and "White Rabbit", who cares?
This is one very Happy Old Hippie. Like, wow, man.
So, my winner of the worst customer service ever award is the collective staff at the Central Theatre, Chatham, who made me feel like dog excrement on their carpet and I am exempting the glorious Sarah.
I have seen Kantner and Freiberg one more time. I am a happy bunny.
Also this week, I had reason to use O2 - my cell/mobile phone support, to get assistance with my broadband. Their employee Craig provided absolutely extraordinary customer service, advising me on on my new modem and giving me some super tips on how to get my computer back to life. I heart Craig.
Being in Glasgow, he pronounced "Greer" with a wonderful roll of the "r".
I sang to him and I know I sing well. It was super to meet an effective customer service rep who answered a series of broadband questions quickly, effectively and with good humour. Craig likes his work and is good at it and it shows in how he deals with people.
So, within a week, I have had perfect customer service from Craig at O2 and dreadful customer service from Ms NEHIHW at Chatham Central Theatre.
It's the sublime and the ridiculous.
Jefferson Whatever has the BEST back catalogue. Why are they playing "Space Oddity", which is the song I will put on continuous loop should I ever need to work up the drive to kill myself? And why no "Hyperdrive"?
But these are quibbles. It's nice to think that, at 58, I might have dealt with way too much death and disaster, but great tunes and great people like Craig make this world worth living in. And, of course, great friends, whether real or on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or within any social medium are fantastic to have in the journey of life.
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