Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Franchise Retail Staff

lose your identity from nine-to-five daily!
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The purpose of a franchise is to (among other things) provide familiarity in the hope that customers will spend more because they are comfortable doing so. This appears to be working, evidenced with unprecedented growth in those monolithic shrines to homogeny: the shopping mall.

Take this growth in the boring, repetitiveness of the mall, and add to this the harsh reality inherent in the erosion of workers rights over the past two decades and a remarkable conclusion can be drawn. The stage is now set for a new type of super franchise, involving franchised labor.

I will illustrate with the example of a supermarket. In each supermarket, there are standard facades and shop fittings, standard ways of stacking shelves, standard ways of greeting customers, standard hours, standard rates of pay, and standard performance targets. Why not just go the whole nine yards and create standard staff based on standard characters? That way, not only do the staff abandon their personal history, needs, emotion, and morals when they start, they can also lose their identity!

At Standard Store Inc., you are always greeted by the standard manager, standard Maurie. A haughty chap about six feet tall of anglo-celtic descent, who always smiles, but treats his standard staff in a standard tough-but-fair manner. In the standard fresh produce section there is standard Tony, short, stocky and Italian (looking.) Assisting standard Tony is standard Maria. She is a fusspot with an eye for detail and if you are in the Standard Store at around 9:35am and 4:15pm daily, you will see them have a standard argument over the regulation stacking of fruit. In grocery are a raft of young, casual sixteen-year-olds. Standard Tim and standard Steve, among others. Their wild and crazy antics are exhibited at around 6:14am, 12:04pm, and 3:13pm daily, in isles 4, 7, and 12 respectively. On odd weeks in June, July and September, and even weeks in all other months, you can see standard Tim and standard Steve have a regulation argument with standard Maurie over a cyclical calendar of standard issues including tardiness, poor quality of work, pay 'not going through' and the numerous occasions that Tim's great aunt Hilda has died, causing him to take time off work.
sdm, Sep 08 2001


       As a post script to this idea, I should say that the closest thing I've seen to this being baked is a restraunt chain I once went to where the staff try to replicate a "Happy Days" fifties diner.   

       Every now and then the kitchen staff down tools and start singing and dancing for no apparent reason. When I witnessed this, they all looked *very* sad, one girl was even crying.   

       I couldn't imagine anything worse than working there.
sdm, Sep 08 2001

       Sounds like a theme park designed for aliens to learn about contemporary Western culture. Also sounds like you'll get to employ lots of out-of-work-actors. Also sounds like the franchise staff is unnecessary, as you'll find these and many other prosaic scenes played out everywhere all the time anyway.   

       Sounds like a Philip K. Dick book. Croissant!
snarfyguy, Sep 08 2001

       UB: yup.
sdm, Sep 08 2001

       The public could be familiarized with the standard characters though television shows and movies. TV shows could have the various standard characters as one- or two-episode plot complications. Movies could actually be about the characters (a la Clerks). This way, shoppers would know about standard Steve's perennial attempts to make it big as a guitarist, and standard Maria's affair with the stockbroker, and the time standard Maurie was in a car accident and almost died in the ER (on "ER" of course).   

       Eventually we could develop a Standard Public Character Palette, and everyone who has a job who interacts with the public in any way would be required to conform to one of these roles.
wiml, Sep 08 2001

       //Why not just go the whole nine yards and create standard staff based on standard characters?//   

       To a certain extent, I think DISNEYLAND has this down to a science.   

       Perhaps you should steal a few of the suits who run the show beneath the park, and ask them to apply the same physics they use to create standard fantasy characters towards generic people. Nice idea.
iuvare, Sep 08 2001

       Aah Disneyland. I'm reminded of a short film by an Aussie bloke called John Safran. He entered a competition ("Race Around the World",) where the contestants were sent around the world to make short films, and John basically took the piss out of a number of religious and cultural oddities, the final being Disneyland.   

       He went up to one of the "character" actors, asked them if they were in a union, and how much they earned. He reminded them how much the chairman of Disney earned and asked them if they thought it was fair. All the poor bastards could do was put on big cheesy grins and try and ignore him.   

       The funniest part was when John went into the tribute to Walt Disney room and added a number of his own plaques. Next to the gold plaque reading "Walt Disney was a lover of kids...", he placed another one highlighting Disney's links with the Nazi party in the 1940s... I wonder how long it took the park's management to find them.
sdm, Sep 09 2001


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