Smiling: A Story

The coffee stinks. I’m probably frowning when I sip it.

I’m trying to write about a river but instead I’m overhearing a manager role play with an assistant manager how to confront a barista who isn’t smiling enough for the customers. Smiling is in the job description. Smiling sells. If the barista doesn’t smile more, a firing is inevitable. And the smile better be real, the manager continued. A customer can spot a fake smile. They want real smiles in here, not the fake ones already frowning in their lives. I don’t want a damn emoticon smile, either! They get enough of that superficiality, too.

The manager then demonstrated the difference between a phony smile and an authentic one. It was right out of the online manual. The baristas were supposed to review the smiles in the smile bank on the break room tablet and then practice smiling into the camera, take photographs, and then upload their smiles into the cloud for managerial review.

All those smiles were also subject to district, regional and national review by the Smile Enhancement Team. We could win an award, the manager said, and I want to win an award. So get our crew smiling goddammit!

The meeting adjourned. No one was smiling, except on the inside. It was so sad.

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