Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Off-topic: stop mangling the language, please

Today I had to go to the Literary Post Office, so I thought I would go when it opened rather than waiting for late in the afternoon when the lines are long. Since Chain Supermarket is on the way, I stopped by there as well since except for tomatoes from the garden and some hummus, I'm pretty much out of food.

The guy ahead of me bought one thing--gum, maybe--and got some cash back. "Have a nice day!" the cashier called after him.

Then she turned to me. I had a few things, not much, but I had the reusable, eco-friendly cloth bags I always use with me. The cashiers at Chain Supermarket hate reusable bags, even the branded ones from Chain Supermarket. They don't give you anything back for using them, of course, and they seem to figure that if they can't put your groceries in plastic bags, for an average of 2 items per bag and 10 bags per order, you're wasting their time. Those cloth bags marked me as a troublemaker, right then and there.

I swiped my card and put in to get some cash back. The cashier looked in her drawer, sighed heavily, and realized that she didn't have enough $20 bills to make up the $40 I'd requested. She counted out some $5 bills and turned to me. "For your ease and convenience, ma'am, there's an ATM in the corner." She was clearly annoyed.

Not thinking I'd get a lecture with my groceries, I asked, "But doesn't the ATM charge you a fee?"

"I have no idea. I never use it," she snapped, turning away.

I was too stunned by the rudeness to say anything, because Northern Clime is generally a pretty friendly and non-rude place. What I should have said was "No, my 'ease and convenience' is best served by getting cash back on the groceries. What you're talking about is your 'ease and convenience.'"

But all I could think of is that she was talking in the language of the shopping cart return corrals. Because some highly-paid consultant apparently thought Chain Supermarket should give a reason for returning the shopping carts, and because "Return Carts Here" apparently seemed too rude and abrupt, the signs now say "For your safety and convenience, return carts here" or some such thing.

And none of it is about our safety, ease, or convenience, so why not stop mangling the language and say what you really mean?

[2013: Updated to add: I did tell the store manager, and he said he'd talk to her. She didn't get fired or anything, which is good, but I've never gone through her line again--life's too short. And I've cut down on shopping there by about 85%]


Anonymous said...

Because they want to manipulate you and make their problems yours, or your fault.

heu mihi said...

Oh I *hate* that! Even when it's something that in itself I don't have a problem with -- like at the bank, when they have a sign saying that I shouldn't wear a ski mask inside for my own safety. No, everyone *else* shouldn't wear ski masks for *my* safety. My not wearing a ski mask makes *them* feel safer.

Unless there's someone inside who will wrestle anyone wearing a ski mask to the ground? --That's actually not unlikely. But it's probably not what they mean.

I haven't found a way out of that particular conundrum, but it does bother me every time I see it.

undine said...

profacero, I think that's it, and I'm pretty sure that not allowing her to bag everything in plastic sealed the deal.

heu mihi, right again: they're the ones who need to feel safe by not allowing you to wear a mask. I'm a little curious about those signs: does anyone EXCEPT a bank robber wear a full-on ski mask into the bank?