Blunder Boards – Customer comes last!

A new sweet shop opened up in the Ameerpet Metro station. I could not believe the content of the board that had been put up all over the station. It reads, “First we eat, then we do everything else” and as if that is not threatening enough adds the byline, “No other way.” To rub it in adds, “Only one way.”

What does that board convey? We have to assume the “We” in the first line refers to the shopkeeper and the people who work there, isn’t it? This is the ticklish use of the word ‘we’. Does ‘we’ include ‘you’? Is he including the customers in the ‘we’? Usually speaking, when a shop or a service uses the word ‘we’ the assumption is always that they are talking about themselves. We offer the best service, we stock the cheapest products, we have the best quality, all imply the ‘we’ does not include ‘us’ the customer.

What struck me as funny was that if I enter the sweet shop I may find all the service personnel hogging the sweets and other stuff there. They will not attend to me until they have completed their quota of eating for the day because first, they eat, then they do everything else. If I didn’t get the message they have added, “No other way.” They are leaving no scope for arguments like “Doesn’t the customer come first?” by authoritatively endorsing, “Only one way”. It is my way or the highway meaning that comes across strongly.
If they had used ‘you’ instead of ‘we’ perhaps it would not have sounded so selfish. “First you eat, then you do everything else”. Even in our everyday talk, if we say, “You don’t cheat people like that” we are including ourselves in the ‘you’ and it is used more figuratively. But in a billboard, it can lend to a lot of humour and/or misunderstanding.
That, of course, won’t stop me from venturing into the sweet shop whenever I pass that way. But if I find the staff eating, I will wait patiently for my turn.
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