“I’ll be right with you.”

Let’s have a little poll, shall we? If you’re in a shop and the person behind the counter says, “I’ll be right with you,” what do you take it to mean?

Today was my last day at the poorly managed nightmare that had been my job for the past year and a half, and, in honor of that, I’ve decided to post a little rant that goes through my head every time I encounter it (which, by the way, I’ll still encounter at my new job, since my new job is basically my old job, just in a newer, shinier, hopefully better run store). I’m a barista; I’m usually the only barista in the coffee shop at any given time, so, when I’m working on making someone’s drink and another person approaches the counter, I usually chirp out, “Hi, there! I’ll be right with you!” because at my previous jobs, it was always emphasized to greet a customer within five seconds and it’s firmly ingrained in my subconscious. Sometimes I’m steaming milk or grinding espresso, which can get a little loud, and I have a tiny little mouse voice, so it’s completely understandable that perhaps they didn’t hear me, but it still astonishes me how many times I tell someone I’ll “be right with” them, and then they proceed to give me their order.

URRRGGHHH. WHY??? Is there some places in the world, in even my own city, where “I’ll be right with you” means the same as “How can I help you?” or “What would you like to order?” I think most people just don’t pay attention, which is just rude, like the people who approach my counter while on their cell phones and then act all annoyed because I’m trying to take their order or get a specification on the order they barked out for two seconds before returning to their conversation. Man. So sorry to interrupt.

Please tell me I’m not completely wrong in my definition of the phrase “I’ll be right with you,” and thank you for listening to this much needed rant. It feels so good to have concluded my time with that place. The company’s not a bad one overall, but that store…yeesh. I have high hopes for the new place, which, true to my workaholic self, I’ll be starting straight away on Wednesday.



  1. Dude, this. The cell phone thing is the worst too. When half your mind is on your conversation, you don’t know what the heck you’re saying and you make it as difficult as possssssible to get through the order. It’s like people on cells expect that telling a waitress “I want buy food” is enough to get an order rung up.
    “I want a sandwich.”
    “Okay, which sandwich??”
    *hand wave* “Pastrami on rye – No, Mom, I didn’t keep dating that girl….”
    “Um, so are you building your own or do you want a New Yorker?”
    *shrug* “Build it.”
    “Cheese? Lettuce? Mayo? Anything?”
    “Cucumbers.” *goes back to cell phone*
    *stares* “Chips.”

    And so forth.

    • Yes. I’m pretty sure that a certain sect of people seem to believe that working customer service gives you mind reading powers. I’ve been working customer service jobs for fourteen years now. If I haven’t earned the ability by now, I don’t think I ever will.

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