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Extraordinary Service Stations in Japan

Robyn Bean in Japan, December 2002

Tonight I had one of those moments where a cultural reality check was nearly in order. I went to get petrol from a new service station. Let me outline for you their procedure...

  1. Bow deeply to honourable guest and run alongside the car, guiding them to where they should stop their vehicle.
  2. Bow deeply while asking what the honourable customer should require.
  3. Bow deeply as requesting to have the humble pleasure of receiving honourable customer's rubbish or cigarette butts. Return rejuvenated ash tray filled with floral-fragranced crystals.
  4. While one servant fills the car, another begins to clean all the car windows. A third servant appears at driver window (bowing) to offer a wet towel to clean the inside of the car. Then a piping hot fresh hand towel is provided to clean the honourable customer's hands after such hard labour.
  5. A free safety check is offered. (With bows)
  6. After payment is made, all servants run to the gateway in order to stop traffic so that the honourable customer may make a safe exit. All servants proceed to shout out their heartfelt gratitude at this most undeserved patronage, and make a full 90 degree bow from which they do not rise until the customer has pulled out on to the road.

You know what? I really do love this country! Is there anywhere else in the world that provides service like this? Hope you guys think of me next time you fill up at a 'service' station! Love Robyn.

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