I suppose that it doesn’t , in the overall scheme of things , make much difference , but there’s something that bothers me when I go into shops these days . I’m not a great lover of shopping so I avoid the problem most of the time ; don’t do daily shopping or anything like that . And grocery stores , where I can be found more often , don’t yet do it .
” Next guest ! “
We ordinary store customers , as it happens , have been switched at some point from run-of-the-mill , customers to ” guests ” . It used to be : The Customer is Always Right . But , I have to assume , that ain’t the case no more . There are no more customers who might be right . We are now “guests” who , for some unknown reason , have been invited into the shop . I never remember getting the invitation. Was it in writing ? A memo should have come out , I think , announcing the change , but I didn’t get the memo .
Sorry , Proprietor , but I don’t want to be a guest in your shop . A guest is obligated to be a little bit on special behavior . Should I have brought flowers ? Would it be proper etiquette to send a thank you letter later ? Is there a manual with rules of conduct ? If there is , I’d like to see it . Just for curiosity .
What I hate , also , are the clerks who shout at me when I enter a store . Sometimes I can even decipher the words : ” WELCOME TO…………. ! ” It’s a greeting . It sounds like a Banzai charge battle yell ; but , it’s a greeting . The clerk , who is inevitably dealing with another
customer guest at that moment in time , is not , as I at first thought , having a sudden violent stoke , calling out for help , and ready to expire . It simply sounds like that . That’s all . Or something .
Where do these businesses pick up this brilliant stuff ! Somebody at some business conference somewhere , perhaps in Maui , perhaps after a few too many Mai Tais , suggested that store clerks screech a greeting at unsuspecting people as they enter the stores , and that these poor suckers should be called guests . That should make them feel right at home —— well , at someone else’s home . Except that it could be like that dinner party you really don’t want to go to ; when you won’t know anyone there anyway ; when you realize your mistake excruciatingly as soon as you get there but by now it’s too late .
Oh , perhaps I exaggerate . Ever-body else seems to accept it all in stride . Ain’t no big deal .
I bought a Saturn once a long time ago . A friend of mine recommended the Saturn , so the second year they were building them I bought one . Glad I did , overall . It was a good car . No haggling with salespeople when I made the deal . No : ” I’ll have to check with the sales manager . Be right back , ” routine from a lame-brained sales person . When I was ready to drive off in my new car , happy as a clam , the sales staff surrounded my wife and I and shouted : ” Banzai ! Banzai ! “
Well , maybe it wasn’t Banzai . Seems to me it was something else Japanese ; but I can only now logically assume that it was actually in good ol’ lingo Americano . What it was exactly I don’t now remember . Japanese businesses at the time used that sort of motivator . Japan’s economy was great then and American businesses seemed to think that they could imitate the Japanese and do just as well . Yeah , even to the extent of yelling at the customer guest in some misplacement of Japanese shouting custom . Aren’t we all happy and motivated now ! Banzai !
Once upon a time some Japanese restaurants were the only places I might have been exposed to this sudden shout upon entering . No more .
American businesses have been “rolling out” this strange stuff for years , under our unsuspecting noses . The school district picked some of it up , too . My school was ‘rolling out’ programs but nothing ever seemed to happen , except more meetings . I once asked the guy in charge of the meeting what ” roll-out” meant . Does it mean “institute” or “initiate” , and if it does , could we use that word instead ? He said , no , roll-out doesn’t mean initiate . Then it got good . He referred the question to the Assistant Principal and the two of them tried to roll out an adequate reply over the next ten minutes or so . They couldn’t come up with anything precise or concise or even anything sensible . ” We have to go on with the meeting , ” the annoyed AP eventually declared . And , they did . They’re probably over there still rolling out desperately vital programs , albeit ethereal and incarnate imitations of business models in the sky , though they be .
So , getting back to my story , if you’re my guest , I might likely give you stuff . Want a beer ? Tea ? Most of these ” Will the next guest …” places don’t seem to be handing out little goodies to anyone . Hows about a beer as I look over the loot on your shelves ? Trader Joe offers free coffee and a taste of something or other — whatever they are promoting that day . World Market has coffee . It’s a little hard to find ; but , it’s there . The Toyota place also has coffee ; hot chocolate , too . But , most shops just yell at you .
Let’s do this :
Guests will shout back a scripted response when shouted at by greeting clerks . Clerks will then shout a scripted question : What would you like ? eg. A beer or glass of wine ? eg #2. A sandwich ? Bon bon ? Clerks are to be referred to as ” hosts” . Guests should alternately be hosts on following occasions . Everything should be put into writing : invitations , etiquette rules , thank yous . When a guest buys some item , the hosts should all assemble around and shout something . Doesn’t matter what ; but it should be sharp and loud . A couple of times a year , at least , business owners and the boards-of-directors should be surrounded by both guests and hosts , a huge hoard of hosts and guests , to be shouted at . I may get a committee together to plan the roll-out of this brilliant idea . First , though , we should have some meetings . We could shout everything so people feel at ease and right at home . Or not .