U B Well 2day

This is what you hear at the checkout at Walgreen’s now when you check out. The first time it was a bit surprising - why, thank you! Having thus been reminded, I will make a point not to drink bleach. I’m not sure I’d want to hear this if I was getting the first course of antibiotics, because I would obviously be unable to B well 2day, although next Thursday’s looking possible. When you’re in line and you hear the clerk say it to everyone, you’re reminded that this is the new Exit Statement handed down from above, and they have to say it.

Over. And Over. And Over Again. Company wide. Every store. Every exchange.

Since it’s policy, there was probably a meeting to tell everyone this is the new thing they have to say. There was a memo that came down to the store’s manager. There was a roll-out coordinated by someone in the home office tasked to ensure everyone in every store said the same thing. There was a manager who decided that this would be the phrase instead of the other options - have a healthy day! or May you not require drugs or sutures in the future, but particularly the remainder of this afternoon and evening! or feel great today, considering the myriad difficulties that weigh upon our mortal coil.

I’ll bet those options came from an outside consulting agency that worked on Project Exit Phrase for a year, focus-testing the words incessantly, honing the cadence, paring away the excess syllables, deciding on something that would be easily remembered by the clerks. The agency shot videos of clerks from around the nation saying the phrase. One person was tasked with finding the right font for the buttons everyone would wear on the day the phrase was rolled out. When all the work was done, the phrase was released into the wild, and corporate held its breath. It might not change things right away, but six months from now an intensive customer-survey initiative would gauge people’s emotional reactions to the brand, and whether or not they agreed or agreed strongly with the phrase “Walgreens cares about me and wants me to be well today.”

So much work. The end result is a clerk who, you can tell, is already tired of saying it, doesn’t really mean it - you’re just buying a greeting card, for heaven’s sake; hardly requires anything but a “thank you” - and wonders whether she will be saying this as long as she works here. If she doesn’t say it, you suspect, there are consequences. A note in the file. “Consistently forgets to use The Wellness Expression; seems insincere at times.” So much for promotion from cosmetics cashier to the main register.

I wish they wouldn’t do this. You feel bad for the cashiers.

That said, you be well today.