You can learn a lot about a culture by how people spend their weekends. This past weekend, we took the local train to Rimini beach. The train, as rustic as it was, was cheap, ran on time and with almost every seat taken. After a short, relaxing, scenic journey on the train, we arrived in Rimini and were quickly shown the way to the beach by a helpful taxi driver and droves of bathing suit clad people. I marveled at how easily people are able to hop on a train at a moments notice to leave city life for a relaxing day at the beach. The country is set up for this kind of leisure, and getting there is half the fun. In comparison, a trip to the beach from DC would include fighting bumper-to-bumper traffic for 4-6 hours – just the thought of it makes me tense.
The Italians I encountered, especially on my beach trip, were incredibly helpful. From giving detailed directions, to teaching me vital Italian words like the names of the toppings on my pizza, or even going as far as bridging the language barrier by retrieving a mystery ingredient from the restaurant kitchen. Italians seem to go the extra mile to ensure that their customers are happy. But it goes one step further – they don’t even seem to care if you are a customer, they want to make sure you as a person are happy.
My Rimini beach experience got me thinking: Has American culture become so obsessed with being successful, that we have forgotten that customer service is about people? Have we forgotten how to relax and be happy?