Elements of Retail Rudeness No.1: from “Can I Get?” to “Let Me Get”

I was talking to Chris Floyd about the normalisation of people saying “can I get…” instead of “can I have…” when buying a sandwich, coffee or some drinks in a pub. “Can I get” is the standard retail request now, and probably has been since the Starbucks-ing of the high street in the mid-Nineties. Peter Lyle reckoned it had something to do with “Friends” on E4 too.
You no longer “have” a commodity in return for cash. “Having” implies exchange and courtesy – it’s a bit weak, really. On the other hand, “Getting” the product, which connotes seizing/removing, is more modern, a bit more Because-I’m-Worth-It, even if it feels a somewhat lacking in empathy. It's hardly even a request anymore, just a straightforward command. It’s the most commonplace example of retail rudeness today and it grates a bit with my sense of reserve about public interactions. I doubt I’m alone in that.

Floyd nodded sagely while I went on about this. Then he said, “it's even worse in New York [Floyd used to live there]. The big one in shops there is ‘let me get’,” he said, rolling his eyes. I could see what he means. It’s all let/get/take/gimme and I’ve no doubt the normalisation of “let me get” isn't far behind “can I get” over here.
I don’t know whose fault it is: “Friends” maybe, or L’Oréal, Public Enemy (remember “You’re Gonna Get Yours”? I know it was about “respect” and stuff but it might as well have been about shopping, the way it was taken), America, or just FMCG brands. My guess is the latter. Brands always claim to be bending over backwards in their efforts to empower the consumer (you know, choice, latte, Tall, whatever). The irony being that quite often, the empowerment just means permission for customers to be rude to the brand’s employees for the price of a cuppa.
Let me get a refund on aggressive consumerism mate yeah? Kevin Braddock