For the most part, I love high(er)-end/speciality food shops like Whole Foods or Balducci’s. Having been spoiled with Waitrose or Marks & Spencer’s food hall all my life, there’s something thoroughly decent about being treated like a discerning food lover once again. With lovingly prepared foods, a shockingly good cheese counter and fruit that doesn’t look like it’s been through a ten round battle with a sledgehammer, these places feed my inner foodie.
But what I can’t stand – nay, truly can’t abide – about these stores is their absolute stubborn pigheaded blindingly irritating insistence on referring to me as their ‘guest’. Every time I reach the head of the
queueline, and get called forward to pay for my products, I’ll be greeted with the plaintiff cry of “next guest please” as if I’ve been personally invited into the home of Joel Dean and Giorgio DeLuca. And the practice is spreading – this weekend, spotty Bernice at the Gap deigned me with “guest” status as I waited to pay for my holiday shorts.
Look, I know you’re all just trying to be polite, and really I should be grateful at any pleasantry in a city where a grunt of sheer indifference is the closest you get to a term of endearment. But, let’s be honest, you don’t really view me as your guest, do you?
If I’m your guest, and you invite me to fill my trolley with as much gourmet grub as I like, I presume you’re not going to make me pay for it before I walk out? After all, I’m your guest, and which host with the most treats their guests like that?
If I’m your guest, I’m going straight to the tea section to help myself to some PG Tips, and then I’ll happily wander into the food preparation area to put the kettle on. Don’t worry, I’ll ask if anyone else wants a cuppa – I was brought up properly, after all.
And if I’m your guest, I’m sure you won’t mind if I pop in and borrow a shirt and a pair of jeans when I get soaked to the skin in an unexpected rainstorm. I’ll bring them back, obviously. It might take a couple of months, admittedly. Many apologies if that white top is a little bit pink, by the way – those red socks get everywhere, don’t they?