I was exhausted when I got home. We had spent a long and exhilarating day driving more than 200 miles to visit heritage sites in St. Catherine, Jamaica and all I could think of was crawling into bed and getting some sleep.
I was about to turn off the lights when I remembered that I still hadn’t booked my ticket on the Knutsford Express for my trip to Falmouth the next morning. I logged on quickly and was thrilled to see that a bus was leaving Montego Bay at 7:30 a.m. I could sleep a little longer, I thought, as I completed the purchase.
I was ready before my 7:15 pickup but as I closed the gate to my house, I panicked. The bus was leaving at 7:30, I should be at the station at 7:15. I called Eton, my taxi driver.
I’ll be right there, he said. I’m only a few minutes away.
Eton drove like a bat out of hell, collapsing the trip to less than 10 minutes. Thankfully, of seven traffic lights only one was red.
Walking up to the Knutsford Express counter at 7:25, I told the agent that I had a ticket for the 7:30 bus to Falmouth.
“There isn’t a 7:30 bus to Falmouth,” she said. “The bus left at 7:00 a.m. and there isn’t another one till 9.”
“But I have a ticket,” I protested.
She peered at her computer screen and said to no one in particular, “The computer messed up,” picked up a phone and walked away from the counter.
On any other day, the 9:00 would have been fine. But this was the first day of a three-day historic preservation seminar I helped Falmouth Heritage Renewal to organize. I couldn’t afford to be late.
I pulled out my phone and punched in Eton’s number.
“Yes, Miss,” he said.
By the time I put my phone back in my bag, the agent returned.
“The Negril driver will take you to Falmouth,” she said.
I was stunned. The least I expected was that they’d give me a complimentary ticket but to take me to Falmouth? Wow, that was going above and beyond.
Before I could cancel my taxi, a tall young man with an engaging smile approached.
“Are you the person going to Falmouth?”
He led the way to his bus, a regular 40- or 50-seater. I couldn’t believe my luck. Actually, this was more than luck. This was a gift straight from the gods. How else to explain a bus that materialized right when I needed it?
I took one of the seats directly behind the driver’s and we pulled out of the station.
The first thing I asked was his name. Andre Johnson. Laughing, he added that both his names are common in Jamaica.
I told Andre my story and thanked him for agreeing to drive me to Falmouth. He said he had just come in from Negril and was about to leave when Keisha, the agent I spoke with, told him what happened. I felt even more grateful. The timing was pure serendipity.
I’ve been taking Knutsford Express to Kingston for at least five years and have always been impressed by their reliable and on-time service, friendly and efficient staff, comfortable and clean buses, even the chilled complimentary bottle of water they provide each passenger.
Now, thanks to Andre and Keisha, Knutsford’s stock has increased several fold in my book.
Andre, a 28 year old (he was impressed when I guess his age correctly) father of an adorable little girl and another child on the way, told me he’s been working with Knutsford Express for about nine months. Prior to joining the Knutsford team, he had also worked as a mechanic for a transport company.
Many of the Knutsford’s drivers, he added, are experienced auto mechanics so they know when something is wrong and can tell the company’s mechanics exactly what and where the problem is. Hearing that made me feel more confident in the company.
As we pulled into Falmouth, I asked Andre if I could take his photo for a post I planned to write about my Knutsford experience. He adjusted his tie and struck a pose.
I was smiling all day as I told almost everyone I met about my experience. Everyone was surprised at my good luck.
The next day, as I waited for my return trip to MoBay, I shared my story with Alexia, the Knutsford Express agent in Falmouth. She didn’t seem surprised by how Keisha had handled the situation, adding, “the error was ours.”
Fantastic, I though, Knutsford’s agents have the latitude to problem solve.
A lot of us, especially those Jamaicans who’ve lived elsewhere, are quick to bemoan the service we receive from many of the island’s companies. I can’t disagree: the majority of employees could use customer service training and be empowered to resolve issues as they arise.
And many local companies need to realize that bad service drives customers away. Clearly, Knutsford Express understands this and provides consistent, first-rate service. (The other company, in my experience, that also gets it is Flow.)
So I’m taking this opportunity to ‘big up’ Knutsford Express, Andre Johnson, Keisha, Alexia and the entire team for the service they provide. They really do take you from city to city in comfort and style.