It won’t be a second!

I can’t help but notice, recently, the number of times I encounter someone who will say to me “it won’t be a second, ok?” or “I won’t be a second, now” or some other slight variation upon the same theme.

I was at KFC the other day ordering a quick takeaway.  After finally getting through the operator’s strict fast food script, I finally managed to communicate my order to him.  He took my money, gave me change, and then announced “It won’t be a second, now” before disappearing off to work on his orders.
I stood there, change in hand, and considered what I had just been told.

I have just been told that my order won’t take a second.  But that’s all I’ve been told.  So either my meal will arrive in <1 second, or it’ll arrive in >1 second.  But what I know for sure is, it won’t arrive in exactly 1 second.  More than 1 second has passed in the time it took me to consider what the statement meant, and my meal hasn’t arrived.  With that possibility already spent, I can now say with certainty that my meal will arrive at some time greater than one second.

If the operator delivered my meal to me in 5 billion years time, he will still have kept his promise.

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