Blacks accept bad service without complaint

I recently went to a bank in Yeoville, Johannesburg, to deposit money for my sister back home - as she needed money urgently.

This was against my resolution to avoid bank queues by using Internet banking. This time I had no choice.

At 11am the bank was closed because the computers were off-line.

I went back an hour before the close of business. The queue was long, so we stood waiting for the tellers to help us.

No one spoke to one another in the queue, with the exception of an elderly white lady. For the purposes of this column I will call her Jane.

She broke the silence by shouting: "Why does it take you more than an hour to give me just one piece of paper?"

Everyone turned and looked at the ageing mother.

She looked as if she was in her late 80s and was accompanied by her domestic worker of 16 years.

Jane told interested onlookers that the mother of her helper had worked for her for 36 years before transferring her duties to her daughter.

Finally Jane got her piece of paper - but it was the wrong one.

She shouted again: "What's wrong with you people? I wait for an hour for this paper and then you give me the wrong document!"

The tellers and the bank manager were unmoved by her complaints.

Jane moved from the enquiries counter to the tellers as she fumed in anger.

She also complained about the length of the queue and then told us of a recent operation on her leg.

She shouted again: "This is the worst bank in South Africa.

"You are supposed to give these people sandwiches and tea. It's unfair to keep them waiting this long."

No one backed her call.

A few laughed at the lady who was not used to "how things worked in the bank".

Jane finally received her document and made a grand exit.

The people in the bank then started talking among themselves about Jane but not about the pathetic service they were receiving.

No one called the manager or questioned why the queue was moving at a snail's pace.

All the people in the bank were black and Jane had been the only white. Do we accept bad service just because we are black? Is it because black people are inherently patient?

I don't have the answers.

But I know that no human being wants to stand in a queue for three hours, unless they are voting a government into power.

Poor service is poor service. It has nothing to do with race, class and age.

If we are truly free, let us expect quality service, whether in a taxi rank, public hospital or the malls in Sandton.

We don't have to wear expensive brands to prove our buying power. White citizens can seal any deal in their short pants.

If we are really free, then let us not allow people to give us poor service anywhere in our beautiful land.