Be Your Guest? Uh, No Thanks. I’ll Just Take My Women’s Everyday Printed Khaki Capris And Go.

OldNavy

Soooo, are we hanging out after this?

I hate anything too corporate. Even when it doesn’t apply to me directly. Just watching the staff at a movie theater or a waiter at an Applebee’s having to repeat what is obviously an employee script when they’re greeting me or taking an order, gives me the creeps. I picture company meetings filled with uninterested new hires who are forced to do team building exercises and get excited about the latest Ultimate Trio appetizer options.

It’s not like I don’t get company protocols. Surely there has to be some modicum of professionalism on the job but do they have to be so artificial? And it’s not like I’m saying everyone has to be miserable at work but having people feign enthusiasm over a jalapeno popper makes us all look like idiots. Which is why recently, I’ve noticed that there are two little words that seem to be creeping further and further underneath my skin:

Following. Guest.

In case you’re not familiar with what I’m talking about, it’s a greeting which is fast becoming the standard language used to beckon shoppers to the counter at places like Old Navy and The Gap. Referring to customers as “guests” is more and more commonplace and I just want the ass-kissing, placating killjoys who come up with this kind of company rhetoric to knock if off already.

Now before you go accusing me of being all curmudgeonly (well, you’d be spot on but ANYWAY) it’s not like I have a problem with good customer service, it’s just that calling me a guest at a place like American Eagle seems so disingenuous. No one there actually thinks of me as a guest. I know this. You know this. So why are we pretending that anyone is that happy to see me? Obviously if I’m at the Waldorf, this type of vernacular seems appropriate but someone said it to me at Rite Aid the other day and I nearly laughed in his face. Dude, I’m just here to buy tampons, I’m not staying for dinner.

A while ago I used to work for a spa whose owner didn’t allow us to say “No problem” which is something I say constantly. She insisted that if ever there was something we could do for a client, we say “It’s my pleasure.” I hated it. In fact, I never said it. Why? Because nothing at work is my pleasure. My pleasure is a quiet Saturday night drinking Yellow Tail with my cat and ordering fourteen different fried items off the Grubhub diner menu. However things at my job are no problem. I don’t mind getting you a glass of water, however I’m not laying awake at night, tossing and turning with excitement over the prospect of delivering it to you. Naturally, I want you to have a pleasant experience when visiting my place of business, but employees behaving like over-programmed, plastic grinning, hospitality bots is just lame.

Cut to about six weeks ago when I was hired at a store that was part of a chain of waxing centers. You can read about how awesome it was here. On my first day, the trainer gave me the employee handbook. It came with an entire atlas of scripts to repeat to clients that dealt with everything from sales to product information and even greetings. As I sat in the supply room reading up on all of the new dialogue I was going to have to commit to memory, one thing stopped me dead my tracks.

They referred to their clients as guests.

And it wasn’t just at the front door. The whole staff had become so adjusted that even in the break room technicians were saying to one another “My next guest is here, I’d better finish my lunch.” Every time I heard it, my stomach turned a little. And I tell you, when it came time for me to invite my first appointment into the waxing room, I just could not get the words out of my mouth.

Subsequently I was fired four days later, which I’m proud to say, is a new personal record for me.

Going forward though, I’d just like to propose, that if I’m in a place where I’m only purchasing some toothpaste or a pack of batteries for ninety-nine cents and not staying the night, there’s nothing wrong with referring to me as a customer. That’s what I am. Calling me a guest doesn’t make me feel more special. It makes me feel like you think I’m a moron. However, if I’m wrong and you actually do think of your customers as guests, well then maybe you are.

P.S. Between this post and my waning tolerance for foul language, I think my transformation into Andy Rooney is nearly complete.

5/19/13 I’m doing an amendment. I just came back from buying some sandals at DSW. They called me to the counter by saying “Following shoe-lover” That one’s rough.

  • Lisa

    “You’re fine”
    Grates on my nerves like nothing else. It’s said in such a demeaning way, like, I’m being tolerated, and I’m an inconvience.
    It’s never said with a smile, and makes me feel like a jackass.

    • Kelly

      It’s ridiculous the things we decide to get all worked up over, isn’t it? I hate everything sometimes. I need to read more of your blog.

  • Auntie Nic

    I prefer to think of myself as turning into Lewis Black but if you like Andy Rooney better, then be my guest.

    • Kelly

      Yes! Why didn’t I think of that ? Now i’m stuck with Andy Rooney forever and you get to be cool, super annoyed Lewis Black.

  • Michelle

    That’s hilarious. We were actually in Cancun this past weekend and every thing I asked for their response was, “It’s my pleasure”. Funny how not once did I ever think that they HAD to say that..just thought they really liked Americans..lol

    Your writing makes me laugh out loud just about every post, continue to chase your dream..be my guest..=)

    • Kelly

      Somehow when I’m on vacation I always find myself believing people when they say “My pleasure”. I don’t know what it is. Perhaps I’m in such a better mood that I can’t imagine anyone not wanting to get me everything I want. But realistically, I think it’s because I’m always visiting third world countries and I’m so ignorant there’s a part of me that thinks the people waiting on me are just so grateful to have an income they never get annoyed. I’m an asshole. Thanks Michelle!

    • John

      In Spain, a common way for customer service employees to respond to thanks was, “here to serve you.” On my bad nights I thought about calling them out on it–“well, in that case, I have an essay on art history due tomorrow and my textbook is bewildering. Can you serve me 5000 words on the Baroque movement?” I usually remembered in time that they just meant if I wanted some more water or something.

      • Kelly

        Ha! People in foreign countries use such odd verbiage. I was in Eastern Europe one time and I had brought a soda from my room up to the hotel’s restaurant for dinner. I had it sitting on the table next to my plate when a waitress came over to me and was trying to articulate that I couldn’t have beverages from outside the dining room with me. She was struggling to find the words until she finally just looked at me very sternly and said “The beverage, it is…forbidden.” I was like “whoa. Um…OK.” Then I kind of gave her a hard time about it and just moved it to the table next to me and asked her if that was OK which she allowed but not without giving me a look like she was going to stake me in my sleep later on. I couldn’t blame her. That was one instance where someone couldn’t give a shit about having a job job, they just thought I was an asshole.

  • Percy

    People who work at the Disney store refer to one another as “cast members.” douchebags.

    • Kelly

      Holy. Shit.

      • percy

        and the storage room is referred to as “back stage”

        • Kelly

          Haha! Did you used to work there? I can’t hate the staff for saying it. They’re just trying to make a living. But there has to be a special place in hell for the evil assholes who come up with this kind of humiliating jargon for their employees to abide by. And you KNOW there are some customers who totally get into it. “Honey, did you hear? He’s going to check backstage! Isn’t that clever! It’s like we’re in a movie!” They’re even worse.

  • http://charter Oma

    well Kelly Muffin, you can be my Guest any time and also with great Pleasure. And by the way… who is Lewis Blake?

  • Jackie

    Eww! Yo no likey the while guest thing either. Im irritated that you got fired. They’re obviously intimidated by a free thinker! Down with this sort of thing! Argh…

    • Kelly

      Haha! Are you drunk? I agree. And I love you.

  • Auntie Nic

    I’ve said it before…I’ll say it again. I love that Oma woman.

    • Kelly

      Yeah. She’s pretty awesome.

  • http://www.mybeautifuladventures.com Andi of My Beautiful Adventures

    Guests!?! Omg…I wouldn’t have last 2 days!

  • Rach

    The “cast members” at Disney World in FL also end every conversation with “Have a magical day!” Initially, this is only vaguely annoying. Then it quickly becomes very annoying, until you reach a point when it’s hilariously awesome. And when I say every conversation, I mean just that. My dad fell over and hit his head on the concrete outside Pirates of the Caribbean (sp?). A very tall pirate in too short pants came rushing over to help. The medics finally arrived and the pirate turned to my dad (now with a black eye and still bleeding from the head) and said…..you guessed it. To his credit, he looked really uncomfortable saying it.

    • Kelly

      It’s just cruel what they do to these people! I give them credit. I don’t think I could say it. That’s a pretty funny story. I mean, hope your dad is OK and all. But funny.

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