Archive for November 5th, 2011

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Priests, lingerie and customer service – Odessa

November 5, 2011

Well, yesterday was yet another day of SOS text messages from the eldest daughter in need of money being one of England’s financially indebted post-grad students.

The dutiful fathers, (me), with good woman in tow, heads towards the bank to withdraw cash and then send it by Moneygram to the nearest UK Post Office to bail out (once again) is fiscally challenged but otherwise bright academic daughter.  Moneygram is far cheaper than Western Union

En route home, the good woman spots a new small shopping mall has finally opened and of course absolutely had to go and look around on the official opening day.  Women do that.

We arrived in time to find a Russian Orthodox priest in full regalia not only blessing the mall but each and every store within.  We happened to catch him blessing the lingerie store on the second floor which immediately reminded me of Father Ted.

Amongst the several shoe shops within, she finds a pair of boots she really likes.  Those of you who live in Ukraine had better sit down for what happens next.

My good woman is petite.  In the UK she wears Size 8 clothes, Size 10 if the manufacturer is on the mean side.  Her feet are UK Size 3 to 3.5.

Like many Ukrainian women she is very particular about her appearance and will only buy what somehow has her name written on it in invisible ink.  Nothing else will do, similar is not the same as what she wants.  Hmmm.

Anyway, this particular store did not have the boots she wanted in her size and in the colour she wanted.  They had the exact same style in her size in black, but no, she didn’t want black.

Normally in Ukraine that is the end of it.

But no, the store assistant asked her to try on the black ones to make sure of the size and then spend 10 minutes telephoning the other branches of the store around Odessa to track down the right size and colour!

After some telephoning around other stores, the assistant came back and said if she could return tomorrow (now today) after 12, her boots will have arrived in her size and colour from another store on the other side of Odessa.   When she returns, the boots will have been put to one side under the assistant’s name, Alena.

Customer service like this simply does not happen in Ukraine or at least has never happened in my personal experience in all the years I have lived here.

All in all, being dragged into a new shopping mall for no good reason turned out to be both entertaining when finding the priest blessing the lingerie store but also providing that spark of hope in the darkness when it comes to the extra mile in customer service so often missing here.

Such little things keep the hope alive that change, no matter how slow, is coming.

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