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There is a certain bagel place near my college that is a primary employer for the local population of highschool kids. During my first year I got to know the floor manager, Steve, pretty well and he'd give me 50% off anything I ordered if I came in towards the end of the day. When I started my second year I discovered, to my horror, that he had been replaced by high-strung, foppish bean pole with a crew cut.

From the perspective of the national chain, I could see why this guy might have been put in charge. He ran his crew hard, as if he was harvesting their sweat to salt the bagels. Still, I've worked the floor and played register jockey in a bakery, and sometimes floor managers are employed to provide the tough love the manager can't afford to give.

I was gazing up at the menu trying to decide what I wanted that day when all the sudden this guy snaps at the girl waiting for me to make up my mind.

"Why aren't you assisting our guest?"

I was blown away. What a bastard! There was no one behind me, so I wasn't holding up a line of hungry patrons (in such a position, I usually stand aside and usher the line around me). I had to restrain myself from telling the guy off right then and there. I wanted to go on a tirade about how I had seen how rudely he treated his employees, and how I was more than capable of letting the girl know when I was ready to order without his help before I stomped righteously out the door.

Instead, I felt embarrassed, as if he had snapped at me instead. I felt pressured to order something quickly and get the hell out.

When I had paid and was walking home with my bagel-and-hummus, I noticed my receipt had a red line of text reading "Guest Number 047." I suddenly remembered how that disgrace of the title of floor manager had called me a "guest," and it creeped me out.

I started to notice other fast food joints using that word, even Burger King and McDonald's called me "guest." I don't want to be a guest of McDonald's. "Customer" I can live with, "patron" I can deal with, but "guest" describes a level of intimacy that I do not feel comfortable having with a restaurant.

If I am a guest, then why am I paying you for your service?

I would have let Steve call me his guest because I knew him and because he gave me special deals, but I wouldn't have called myself the guest of the company for which he worked. When a company forces bitchy strangers to call me guest it does not make me feel attached to the company, it insults my taste in hosts.

I used to work at an AMC movie theatre and they have a similar policy in place. In fact, it's called the Guest First policy. While I don't know about fast food restuarants and the like, the movie theatre is located on private property. Thus, they as a company have the right to bar people from the premises. I don't recall if anyone was banned, but it was a decision that could be made. Because of these two facts, it could be said that AMC is inviting people to watch movies and spend their money on over-priced concessions. When you invite someone to your place of residence, they become your guest. As such, when AMC invites you to see a movie (via advertising) at one of their many locations, you become their guest.

Of course, that is if you agree to be called a guest.

As ClockworkGrue stated, the word guest implies some sort of familiarity, which is precisely why corporations such as AMC and ClockworkGrue's bagel place want their employees to use the word. They want you to think that they are friendly so that you will be more inclined to spend your money there. That is it. All it really does is make customers and employees alike feel awkward (which may actually lead to customers spending less money). In fact, I rarely called anyone a guest during my term of employment. If caught using the dreaded c-word, I would be told "they're guests," but that was it. Never was it really that heavily enforced of a policy. But that might be because both I and everyone above me were from before.

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