TORONTO — Sam Baquiran, cashier at a Shoppers Drug Mart on Pape and Danforth, recently had a customer ask how she was doing. “Can’t complain,” she responded, given that she’ll lose her job if she even jokingly gripes about the cocktail of boredom and stress that is her existence.
Further prohibitions on employees’ self-expression include divulging personal information, failing to immediately agree with a customer’s opinion, and having facial muscles in positions that fail to convincingly simulate joy.
“Honesty is a no-no,” said Shoppers regional manager Marie Daniels. “If employees in any way imply that blipping and bagging marked-up health and hygiene products isn’t an ecstatic way to spend your life, our customers might enjoy their epsom salt baths and tampons slightly less.”
When asked outside of work if there’s anything she’d care to complain about, such as the slashing of her shifts due to self-check-out stations, the persistent pain in the balls of her feet, or the evaporation of her career as a musician, Baquiran stretched her mouth into a trained smile, exuded sweat beads on her forehead, and gave a cheerful “nope!”
“Oh, our store profits are through the roof this quarter,” said Lamont Byers, pharmacist/franchise owner of the Shoppers Drug Mart where Baquiran works. “But the real satisfaction I get from running this place is watching my wage slaves spout trite expressions of cheer while I squeeze them for every ounce of labour they’ve got.”
At press time, Byers gave Baquiran a curt nod barely acknowledging her existence as he left the store, on his way to buy a new Jet Ski as a gift for Galen Weston’s birthday.