いらっしゃいませ Irasshaimase is what the dude at the White Dragon Noodle Bar says to Harrison Ford in Blade Runner. It’s what the bitches at Uniqlo shout out when you walk in. It’s what every hospitality/service worker in Japan says to customers. For the longest time ever, I had somehow gotten the idea that it was irasshaimasen. The addition of the extra N, as it turns out, flips the meaning from welcome to you’re not welcome, which is pretty hilarious. Thankfully, I’ve been corrected and it’s what I have to shout out now every time a punter strolls through the doors at the restaurant. I’m not Japanese but the concept of hospitality is a universal one and greeting someone in a manner that announces their arrival does a few good things.

For starters, we always get smiles. It’s not quite the same as one dude saying welcome, it’s the whole kitchen and floor in cohesion, in various tones, some big and loud, some small but firm, some excessively polite. People feel good when they know their presence is not just welcome but appreciated. Second, it lets us know that there’s customers around and we’ve got to hustle and not mess up, it lets us factor in that someone’s arrived and we can’t let the guard down. Not yet anyway.

Sure, I’ve belted out a few “fuck off” irasshais (just in tone!) under my breath when I’m getting slammed but it also forces me to behave in a certain way. Because I have to be polite, I have to be calm, I have to steady myself or I’d look like an idiot. So everytime I’m opening the vocal chords, I’m reminding myself to chillax a little and keep it together. It also tells the team that the rest are just as together, just as united and just as into it. Into fighting knee deep in dockets with you. That is a very reassuring thing.

Sometimes, it provides a laugh too, like belting one out when no one’s in and seeing everyone sheeping it only to realize no one’s here yet and someone’s just dicking around. Sometimes peeps also just shorten/switch it up as well. Like irasshai is the most common of the short forms. But some dudes just go like ma-se or even just se at or around when the others are finished. Bastards.

In the Uniqlo stores in Singapore, they’re trained to yell out “welcome to Uniqlo” instead of irasshai, presumably because you can’t get nitwits to pronounce it. It’s my pet peeve, I fucking hate those dumbasses because their tone is almost always laboured and sleepy. They’ve already got the luxury of saying something in a language they’re familiar with and yet they still droll through it, stumbling past the sounds and syllables like they weren’t there. It’s not a case of shortening the phrase to just “welcome”, it’s more like “welka uniqro”.

Which brings me to my next point, if you ain’t doing it well, it ain’t worth doin’ cos it’s just fucking it up real bad. It’s just got a totally adverse effect if you greet someone in a way that isn’t greeting them. It’s reducing the phrase to signal someone’s arrival and the fact that you wish you didn’t have to bother and they weren’t there. People can tell when they’re not wanted. I don’t really blame the bitches who work at Uniqlo SG cos they get like fuckall money. It’s like McDs or something, except you can be a pretend fast fashionista.

Advertisements