One star, less if I could…

Humans are a funny bunch aren’t they? Sometimes they blow you away with their compassion, generosity, intelligence and kindness. Other times, you feel like you couldn’t be more disappointed in them. The bushfires in Australia have yielded examples at both ends of the spectrum. On the one hand, the firefighters and volunteers have sacrificed everything to protect us, Australians have banded together to donate, create, collect and deliver as much money and goods as they possibly can, artists have auctioned works and some journalists have covered the whole tragedy tirelessly and with fidelity.

And then on the other hand…well the other hand is just empty. Empty of leadership, of compassion, of truth. The other hand is worthless and useless but thrusts itself loudly into the path of others, insisting on handshakes. It also sprinkles a fair helping of misinformation and blame around. The other hand is a constant source of disappointment and shame.

The bushfires have certainly highlighted the entire spectrum of humanity in Australia from the uplifting, inspirational humans, to the self-serving, fear-mongering trolls. The good news is there’s many, many more of us who care and feel deeply about showing kindness and compassion, and those who don’t seem to be a sad but powerful group of ageing men.

But this post was not meant to be a scathing critique on the woeful leadership this country is currently enduring, though I’m sure you’ll forgive that it cannot be helped when one turns one’s mind to the situation. This post was intended to be a light-hearted look at one of the other ways humankind shows just what a bunch of jerks they can be, and that is through online reviews.

When I started working in retail at the ripe old age of 14 years and 9 months I was told that if a customer is satisfied they’ll tell one person about their experience but if they’re unhappy they’ll tell nine. NINE PEOPLE! Woah. That was a lot! So for the most part I was the cheeriest checkout person at Woolies, before I upgraded to the cheeriest ice-cream scooper at Cone and Cup in Myer Melbourne. (I did have one run in with one customer who was vile and actually said to me ‘Don’t you know the customer is always right?’ to which I replied ‘Well if you’re such a soft-serve expert why don’t you strap on an apron and come do it yourself.’ Unjustly I got in trouble for that).

Nowadays though we have online reviews and your audience is unlimited. My partner and I often find the comments people bother to write incredulous, particularly the one star ratings. Now for me, to leave a one star rating anywhere, I’d have to be verbally abused, or a severed finger turn up on my plate, or some other such horror. But not so for many of the ‘HUGELY DISAPPOINTED’ reviewers out there. I particularly enjoy the reviews that read something like this, ‘everything was amazing, but…’

‘Cafe was cosy, nice ambience, the food was excellent and the staff attentive, but when I asked the waiter to tell a breastfeeding mother to cover up they refused! Can you believe it? I had to eat while someone was flashing their breasts around the cafe like a stripper. It was as though I was being breastfed. One star, less if I could.

I understand that sometimes people have legitimately bad experiences, for instance if the cafe in my fictitious example had’ve asked the breastfeeding mother to cover up then, yeah, one star. But if you read any of the one star ratings they’re generally a great big pile of self-righteous nonsense, often with some racism sprinkled in for good measure.

Recently on a holiday in Malaysia my partner and I decided to create a list of reasons whinging punters might write ‘One star, less if I could’ reviews about the hotel we were staying at. Here we go:

No hot chips available by the adults only pool – one star, less if I could

The water recirculating through the pool pumps was too noisy! Spoiled the ambience – one star, less if I could

Too much lime syrup in the Gin Fizz cocktail. Made my mouth tingle in a bad way – one star, less if I could

The sand on the beach was too course, needed to be much finer – one star, less if I could

The haze was too hazy, couldn’t see the view properly – one star, less if I could

No ambient music by the pool, could hear the children laughing incessantly – one star, less if I could.

I love lists like these. They’re fun and you can add to them at any time. I can absolutely imagine myself creating a character who is perpetually disappointed in experiences and leaves ‘one star, less if I could’ reviews ad nauseam.

Grab your writer’s notebook and have a go yourself if you fancy. Perhaps make a cup of tea and give yourself a ‘one star, less if I could’ review for poor steeping, premature bag removal. Until tomorrow xx

2 thoughts on “One star, less if I could…

  1. So funny. Gave me a good giggle at the end of a long day at the office. Will definitely turn my hand to this list as a writing exercise and I love your idea for a character – I see someone with high waisted brown woolen pants and a greasy comb over who issues these reviews verbally at the end of retail hospo encounters. “Don’t you know the customer is always right? One star, less if I could.” He’s awful, but I kind of love him already 🙂


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