Maybe I am a horrible, culturally insensitive ugly American, but I find Panamanian customer service extremely irritating. I’m really not a demanding customer. I’m not picky, I usually don’t care if the service is slightly bad, but Panama brings it to a whole new level. I do not even feel the need to make a disclaimer about stereotyping, this being a generalization, et cetera.
Me to the 5 women working behind the reception desk: Can you please call me a taxi? I have a lot of bags and don’t want to hail one of the street.
One of the ladies: Maybe. It can take a while if the cab is far away.
Me: That’s fine, I can wait.
Five minutes later.
Lady: Well, I called the driver, he says he’s too far away and can’t come.
Me: OK, is there another cab company you can call for me?
Me: So it’s impossible to call a taxi in Panama?
Me: But I’ve done it before.
Lady: Shrugs. Goes to watch TV.
OTHER EXAMPLES OF EXCELLENT PANAMA CUSTOMER SERVICE:
Me: Hi, we’ve been waiting for 15 minutes, do you think you could take our order?
Server: I’m on the phone. Give me a few minutes.
At a sushi place:
Me: I’d like option #1 but with no cream cheese please.
Server: OK, no cream cheese. Anything else?
Me: Nope, just please make sure the rolls don’t have any cream cheese. I really don’t like cream cheese. Order #1, no cream cheese.
And of course, the rolls arrive with cream cheese.
Me: I’d actually asked for no cream cheese….
Server: Acts annoyed.
At a fastfood place:
Me: I would like a grilled cheese sandwich with mozzarella.
Server: One grilled cheese sandwich with mozzarella.
10 minutes later. (There are about ten people behind the counter) My lady is standing there waiting for someone to order something.
Me: Hi, I actually ordered like 10 minutes ago…is it ready yet?
Server: Oh, yeah, hold on, let me make it.
5 minutes later.
Me: Ready yet?
Server: About to start it.
5 minutes later, hands me a sandwich with yellow American cheese.
ME: I actually asked for mozzarella…
Server: Oh, I thought you said American. Want me to make you another one?
Me: American will do.