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 When I started my second year I discovered, to my horror, that he had been replaced by high-strung, foppish bean pole with a crew cut.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.