Whether you were born in Ibiza, you’ve chosen to make the island your home, you’re just here to work the summer season or you’re one of the millions of people who comes here for a holiday, there’s a very high chance that living on this Balearic island makes you happy. If it doesn’t, then you should probably move. Or at least try to change your circumstances so that it does. I like to imagine Ibiza as an island that’s filled with people #livingourbestlives – no matter what that might be, who you might be, where you might be and what you might be doing…
I was reminded of this just a few days ago, when I spent the afternoon wandering around Ibiza town and port doing chores. From the pet shop to the pharmacy, the fruit market and the fancy dress store (yes, this is what my kind of chores entail) and the odd fashion boutique (which is more of a pleasure than a chore), each and every experience ended on a happy, positive note, reminding me not only why I live here, but also how easy it is to be nice to other people and make a difference to their day.
Let’s start with the pet shop, because, well, cats. My two felines are incredibly spoiled and so I spend a lot of time (err, and money) seeking out new things for them to eat, new toys for them to play with or new contraptions for them to climb on. I used to like to buy them plush beds to sleep in, but in the end they always sleep on my pillow or at my feet, so I stopped indulging in those – anyway, I digress. On this particular day in question, I was just popping in for some posh organic food sachets and the girl behind the counter greeted me and asked how I was. I do love a nicety, and so I replied (in Spanish of course – I speak fluent pet jargon) and asked her the same. AND THEN, she proceeded to ask me how my cats were and seemed genuinely interested in the answer and started telling me about her own cats in a case of crazy cat ladies unite.
When I walked out of the store, she bade me farewell as if we were old friends. “Adios guapa,” (which translates to ‘goodbye beautiful’) she called out as I left. “Hasta proxima.” (‘see you next time’) and I couldn’t help but think how lovely it is to be treated not just like a customer, but like a friend. Immediately afterwards, I popped into a supermarket for some extra kitty snacks (not the same one that accused me of shoplifting cat food a couple of months ago) and after I’d piled up my purchases on the conveyor belt and paid, the checkout girl closed her till and got up to leave for the day. She smiled at me and said: “Gracias guapa.” (I must have been having a good hair day, with all these guapa comments coming my way) “Que tengas una buena tarde.” (‘Have a good afternoon.’) And again, I genuinely felt like she meant it and I floated back to my car on a happy buzz.
“Gracias cariña,” (‘thank you darling’) said the next lovely lady in the fancy dress store with a huge smile when I bought some hen party related goodies just a little later on that day. “Disfruta la fiesta.” (‘enjoy the party’) And once again, I really felt like she genuinely meant it. I hear people complain about customer service in Ibiza from time to time, but I have to say, this particular day felt like a masterclass in making customers happy. If someone comes into your store, it’s really not hard to please them – a smile here, some helpful advice there – ultimately it results in more sales, which is surely the whole point of working in retail. AND it helps the person on the receiving end of said nicety have a nice day.
When I passed by my favourite fruit market to pick up some fruit and veg, I noticed that the shopkeeper had given me too many punnets of fresh blueberries – and so I (being honest) pulled one out to give it back. “No, es un regalo,” she said, explaining that they had too many that would simply end up getting spoiled, so she was happy to give some away. Other times, she’s given me sprigs of basil, thrown in a mango or not charged me for figs that are juuuust about to turn – it’s a small thing but it’s what makes me go back to the same fruit shop every time. Personal, lovely and friendly service like this makes me want to give them my money!
Just around the corner, while totally laden with shopping bags, I spied a leopard print dress that I just HAD to have – and when I stepped inside the store I discovered rails and rails of even more beautiful pieces I needed to try on. I was a bit hesitant to go in, knowing that my armloads of bags would quite possibly knock someone, or something, over but my desire for animal print won out over practicality in the end. From the minute I stepped through the shopfront, the attendant was the nicest, most helpful person that has ever assisted me.
First of all, she offered to lighten my load and put all my shopping behind the counter. Secondly, she let me play dress up with everything and helped me style each piece, asking me what the occasion was and giving me suggestions on what to pair each piece with and FINALLY – and this is the bit that really warmed my heart – she even offered to let me take a dress home with me to see if I liked it, and if it would match my own accessories, knowing how much I liked it. Admittedly, she knew where I worked, so it wasn’t like lending something to a complete random – she would have been able to send the heavies if I didn’t return it or pay for it, but I was really touched by how helpful and nice she was. Because in this day and age – especially with online shopping – it’s just not that common to get the human touch.
Finally, on the way home, I popped into the pharmacy and picked up some turmeric tablets, thinking it would be better for my general health to try and take a natural form of anti-inflammatory for my sore wrist than continually popping Ibuprofen (sorry probably TMI but just want to paint a picture of the situation). “Es este antiinflamatorio?” I tentatively asked the pharmacist to be sure, stumbling over the syllables in Spanish. “It’s not as effective as ibuprofen,” he replied in perfect English (don’t get mad about big pharma – he was just doing his job). “But you can try it and see if it helps.” I’ve noticed this kind of customer service a lot lately in Ibiza – when you speak Spanglish, the attendant replies to you in English to make your experience easier, which of course is super helpful when you can’t quite articulate what you need.
On an island where people hail from all over the globe, someone taking the time to speak to you, and care for you, in your own language rather than theirs is a real touch. There’s a carefully considered decision there – they realise you would be more comfortable in your mother tongue and make the switch for you so you don’t have to keep bumbling. “Have a nice day,” concluded the pharmacist (even though it was pretty much sunset – but that’s semantics) as I added the little bottle of capsules to my heaving load of shopping. “Igualmente,” (‘same to you’) I said in reply, and I really, truly, do hope that the rest of his day was just as nice as he was and vowed to take a leaf out of his (and all the other people I had encountered) book and treat strangers the way I would like to be treated. And so on that note, I would just like to say – I hope that everyone who reads this blog has a nice day!