Sunday 11 November 2007

Microsoft does micro-courtesy

Do Not Disturb!

If I ever have a tombstone, it would probably read – He always expected …

I expect that if I put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on my hotel room door that is exactly what it means – the sign is even generous enough to announce that stated intention in Catalan, Castellano and it defaults to English, just in case the housekeeping staff forgot.

Having burnt my candle on three ends last night, the last thing I wanted was for some stranger to walk in on my sleep and wake me up for reasons other than if there was a fire that required evacuating the building.

It transpired that I was disturbed twice and just as I was about to remonstrate, I found that my “Do Not Disturb” sign had disappeared.

In fact, I spoke to at least 3 other guests on my floor that had these bizarre walk-ins upsetting their Sunday morning lie-ins, just because the signs they put on their doors had evaporated, self-destructed or for some other funny reason like a kid collecting door signs.

I would hate to think that the housekeepers took it upon themselves to become this villainous beside the fact that the lady tried that English trick on me too; speaking Catalan slowly with a very loud voice; I did not understand a word but she felt she was communicating loud and clear – she should try that trick in English.

Open for seating at least

Organising a conference for 5,200 delegates in a foreign city can be a logistical nightmare, and from tomorrow the Microsoft TechEd IT Forum for Europe kicks off in Barcelona and we were advised to visit the conference centre to register from 10:00AM on Sunday – smart idea.

However, I having arrived the day before, I was not that travel weary but finding the place was not as easy as it should have been, the organisers assumed everyone would approach the conference centre from one direction, I happened to come from another angle, so the signs to the registration area were not that evident.

So, I got my conference kit and wanted to look into all I had collected, I saw quite a few people sitting on the floor, which I felt was just not on. I then asked the registration desk if there was some place to sit down and I was told the conference was not yet open and they did not have full access to the building till tomorrow.

Tosh! You cannot invite people to a place to register, some of whom are on the tail-end of a long journey and not provide seating – it should not be a requirement per se, it is just a matter common courtesy. I am sure there is a breach of certain health and safety rules in that framework as there were some areas cordoned off for seating the speakers but none for the delegates.

You could see the organisers speaking into their walkie-talkies and scrambling to arrest an uncomfortable situation, in fact, I am surprised no one else had asked that this be done or considered.

I expected something to be done about it and then I was offered the “favour” of being allowed in the speakers corner; sometimes the most mundane things get overlooked when even in Jesus’ time, some cities risked the wrath of Sodom and Gomorrah just for not being good hosts.

When I left the centre, there were more people allowed into this “hallowed corner”, but for all Microsoft’s greatness, this aspect of micro-courtesy or the lack of it is a structural logistical error and leaves much to be desired – I hate to think of what might have happened had I the need of the lavatories.

I must be getting old-fashioned, I probably am too staid in those ways, but common courtesy costs nothing, generates goodwill and keeps people happy; when we begin to lose that from the big picture of all our activities, a whole chunk of humanity deserts us.

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