Recently I’ve noticed that waiters and waitresses will, upon, hearing your entire order say, “Perfect”. They of course don’t literally mean that your order is perfect–that your choice of club sandwich and side salad with the honey mustard dressing cannot be improved upon. “Perfect” here is a discourse marker whose purpose is to say, “I believe I have everything I need to place your order–I’m leaving the table now”. Just about any short, blandly positive expression would do here, but “perfect” jumps out at me because I think it’s new. I’ve only started noticing it in the past year or so, and I haven’t travelled much lately, so I don’t know if it’s just a Seattle thing or more widely spread. My wife was the one who pointed it out to me, and she spent much of her twenties and early thirties waiting tables without ever encountering this particular discourse marker. I would expect these canned expressions to have a long half-life, but maybe that isn’t the case.

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