There’s something a little Stepford Wives-ish about Singapore’s Changi airport. Everyone’s a little too “nice”. A little too…“friendly”. Since I’ve been weaned on North American in-your-face, no-holds-barred, matter-of-fact-ness — nice and friendly raises my alarm.
So while en route to the ASEAN Tourism Forum in Manado, Indonesia, I had to investigate.
Turns out, they’ve been put up to it.
At the Changi Budget terminal, tucked away alongside the building (and cleverly nestled between the toilets and the smokers) is the employee lunch area.
This is where the brainwashing happens.
It appears to be a cult of some sort. And this is their headquarters. Convert You HQ I christened it. Party propaganda lines the walls instructing the flock on – are you ready — the Three Easy Steps to Great Customer Service.
Greet. Smile. Thank.
Just who do they think they are?
Step 1: Greet
Passengers arriving for, or departing from their Singapore holidays can expect to be met with the following forms of proselytism – a smile, a 15 degree nod, and — I shudder to think of the consequences – eye contact.
Have they no shame?
But the indoctrination doesn’t end there. Guests at this airport (or “compound” if you like) must suffer through not just any smile, but a smile in three acts.
Step 2: Smile
I implore the gods above (and if that doesn’t work, the ones below) to be spared the indignity of “The 3rd Degree Smile”. Coupled with the Greet, it’s a one-two punch certain to weaken the defenses of even the most seasoned traveller.
The final canon this dangerous sect preaches is textbook grooming behaviour – the Thank.
Step 3: Thank
Why isn’t something being done about this? Why is there no furore? Certainly passengers more influential than I have passed through those gates; suffered through these egregious displays?
The staff, clearly assimilated, were busy converting from entry to exit. What with their smiling, and their greeting, and – perhaps worst of all – their thanking. Oh the thanking!
Unable to stop there, Changi’s budget terminal also engages in “grassroots” activity to reach the unwashed masses. Like recycling…
They even have the gall to be powered by solar energy.
Passengers don’t stand a chance.
It’s no wonder they were named the best airport in the world. We can’t let them get away with this people. Next thing you know, other airport’s will want to offer (ugh) Great Customer Service too.
Let’s fight the real enemy.
Who’s with me? Care to take up the cause?