Saw the following sign at a food court:
To help us serve you better, please return your dishes here
You’re going to serve me better if I return my dishes to your counter? How is that serving me at all? That’s actually me serving you better. And presumably, since I’ve already eaten, you’ve already served me, so the only person that I’m possibly helping you serve better is the next guy in line, and I’m not so sure I like the look of him anyway.
My suggestion for re-working the language would be:
To alleviate our workload, please return your dishes here.
You see how I used the word ‘alleviate’ to indicate that we’re really working hard, and your cooperation would assist us just that little bit. That I might even get on board with. I’m all about helping out the little overworked guy and I can understand that wandering around a food court picking up my dirty dishes might be…well…icky. But, the way the sign is currently phrased makes me say to myself “Hey, you’re being paid to do this job and I just paid $8.00 for a coffee and meat pie, so, I have a better idea than me helping you serve me. You should do your job.”
I hate signs that use double-speak. You know the ones I’m talking about. My favourites usually start with the ubiquitous phrase “For your convenience” and then end with something that is so completely the opposite of convenient, like “we will no longer be open at any time at which you could come to our establishment.”
But it is the curse of our times that we can no longer communicate in clear terms, but must obfuscate our messages in positive marketing jargon birthed in the hallowed halls of business wisdom and (can you hear the angels sing?) “The Customer Experience.”