The Question That Will Tame a Dragon

I sat on the train for a long time yesterday, bored out of my tiny mind, nothing to do.  Idly I watched the steward push a refreshments trolley past.  He stopped behind me and sold a lady a cup of coffee and a flapjack

She asked for a receipt (I guess she could expense the flapjack)

His machine broke, he presented her with a scratty piece of paper that looked like anything but a receipt

The lady showed her claws; it wasn’t good enough, (she was not keen to self fund the flapjack)

My ears pricked up, something to listen to, a way to pass the time

The steward apologised, his machine was broken

The lady started to screech, “this receipt looks fraudulent, I can’t use that” (clearly it was expensive flapjack or she was very tight)

The steward explained that it was the only machine on the train, it was hardly his fault

The lady became a dragon, she started to breath fire “call this customer service, it is totally unacceptable”

At this point I smiled to myself and settled back to enjoy the argument, it was going to be a long one, both sides were entrenched, and I had time to kill

Then the steward had the audacity to say

“What would you like me to do Madame?”

Game Over, End of Story

“Could you write me a receipt on a piece of paper?”

“Certainly Madame”

“Thank you very much” 

She positively cooed

I groaned inwardly, I would have to find somebody else’s conversation to listen to.

And the point of the story?  How many situations could be avoided by simply asking somebody their views, rather than re-stating your own?


Read another opinion

Image by Adi Rachdian

P.S. I couldn’t help myself, I had to get up and look and see who the she dragon was.  She wasn’t drinking coffee and eating flapjack, she had bought half a bottle of East Midlands Trains wine (tastes like Meths, costs like Champagne).  All of a sudden I understood her predicament

Maybe I should stop stereotyping and read my own posts


  1. I couldn’t agree more James. I also find that complaining is a lot more fruitful if you clearly explain to the person you are complaining to precisely what you would like to do for them to put the problem right. Otherwise you are relying on them (a) guessing correctly or (b) doing what the steward did on your train journey and asking. From experience the latter is pretty rare. I’m sorry you had a boring journey, I you fancy a fight maybe you should try discussing ticket pricing policy with East Midland Trains, they are very unlikely to ask you what they should do to sort your dissatisfaction.

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