The New Republic has an absolutely fascinating article on the sandwich shop Pret a Manger and the increasing importance of “emotional” or “affective labor.” Convincing customers you care deeply for them may be, it seems, the future of the service industry.
Pret keeps its sales clerks in a state of enforced rapture through policies vaguely reminiscent of the old East German Stasi. A “mystery shopper” visits every Pret outlet once a week. If the employee who rings up the sale is appropriately ebullient, then everyone in the shop gets a bonus. If not, nobody does. This system turns peers into enthusiasm cops, further constricting any space for a reserved and private self.