Thursday, July 3, 2014

Be Well-Intentioned but Quiet about It

If you’ve stopped at Walgreen’s for cold remedies, batteries, or a snack, the cashier rang up your purchase, handed you a receipt, and said, “Be well.”

The drugstore chain rolled out the slogan nationwide last year after testing it in several markets. The first time you hear it, it may strike you as different but not unpleasant.  You’ll suspect the guy behind the register is doing a Yoda imitation, but you’ll cut him slack because he seems sincere if nerdy. The tenth or eleventh time a Walgreen’s employee intones, “Be well,” you’ll be certain a cult has taken control of the chain.

Walgreen’s advertisements position the company “At the corner of Happy and Healthy,” and its Balance program rewards members for tracking their exercise, blood-pressure checks, and weigh-ins.  “Be well” is in keeping with the chain’s slant on wellness, but does it fit every customer, every day?

What about the people who go to Walgreen’s to pick up prescriptions for acute or chronic conditions? They’re not well, and the chronic-condition sufferers won’t get well.

What about those who buy candy, chips, and cigarettes at Walgreen’s? A live-and-let-live attitude fits those purchases, but does “Be well?” And if Walgreen’s employees must use the motto, why are they selling cigarettes, chips, and candy in the first place?

Are you as nostalgic for “Have a nice day” as I am? Would you prefer to get your change without a personal-development message?


Liz Flaherty said...

When I worked at the PO, I had to ask the long list of required questions of everyone who sent a parcel. Some were good questions, some particularly inane, but they probably did more good than harm. I feel the same way about "be well"; it may not always be appropriate, but it lends positivity that is almost never bad.

Lark Howard said...

I don't mind "Be well." It's kind of silly but not offensive to me. I do get annoyed when a cashier tells me to "Have a blessed day." What does that mean, anyhow? I think cashiers should be given a choice between "May the force be with you" and "Live long and prosper" so they can chose for themselves based on whether they prefer Star Wars or Star Trek. Seems fair and democratic to me.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Liz,
You're a better person than I. The message you see as positive strikes me as patronizing. Of course, some Walgreen's employees deliver it sincerely while others say it mechanically.

The post office's list of questions, like the airport check-in person's, is meant to jog the memory and send a message about security: any firearms, alcohol, etc.

What if post office employees had to say "Stay in touch" or "Stay connected" at the end of every transaction? I'd hate that.

I'm glad you're not a crankyboots like me. Be well, Liz.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Lark,
You know you're in the South when someone wishes you a blessed day. I don't mind that one because the sayer means it--and because we all interpret that message differently. My blessed day is made of solved problems and ends with a glass of red wine.

I like the idea of slogans from Star Wars or Star Trek. Right now, I'm leaning toward "Laugh it up, fuzzball."

May the Force be with you, Lark.

Patricia Rickrode w/a Jansen Schmidt said...

I'm not sure I like "be well." It sort of implies that I'm not already well. I think I'd respond with something like "already am thank you." Or, "okay I will and you be kind." But, I tend to be a little snarky like that.

I think for me it would depend on my mood and how the cashier says it. Be well, does sound sort of Star Trekish to me. Like "go in peace," sounds too zenish to me.

I guess it's just a gimmick. We'll see how far this gets them. I don't shop at Walgreens so I've never experienced this adieu. I still shop at the old fart pharmacy that's been in my town for centuries and the clerk says "here's your change, now get out." (I am kidding of course, but you get the drift.) Nobody's overly friendly to "outsiders," at my pharmacy. If you've been in my town for 20-30 years, you get the friendly treatment. If not, you get the suspicious-eye.

This is an interesting question, Pat. I'm enjoying peoples' comments.

Thanks for sharing and be well. (I couldn't resist.)

Patricia Rickrode
w/a Jansen Schmidt

Jennette Marie Powell said...

I'm LOL at saying "be well" to the person buying cigarettes... though come to think, my 97-year-old great-aunt still smokes and until recently was very well...

It does seem kind of presumptuous, especially, as you say, for those with chronic conditions. I guess I'll stick with my Rite-Aid, where they just say "thank you."

Coleen Patrick said...

I like to think the message is said with good intentions. Everyone probably has some worry or ailment, so it's nice to be wished well. :)
Oh and to your q about the art of lettering-- I've been taking some design classes and found an online class on typography. I had no idea all the history and art that goes into letters! I didn't even know there was a design specialization for typography. One of the reasons I love research!! :) Hope your summer is going well, Pat.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Patrica/Jansen,
I grew up in a town like yours but in NJ. When I moved to Texas, my reaction was "Why are these people being so nice to me?" Like you, I have a snarky side, but I never think of clever comebacks until I'm in the car and halfway home.

Go in peace, Patricia.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Jennette,
"Thank you" is the perfect, covers-all-bases/doesn't-inspire-snark response.

Your grandfather's a genetic marvel. I'm sorry his health's slipping. Ninety-seven! Wow!

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Coleen,
You are always up to something interesting and artistic. I look forward to seeing your typography skills on your blog.

Unlike me, you're a nice person who sees "Be well" as wishing someone well. I hear it and think someone's trying to play mind tricks.

Be well, Coleen.