Trade in the time of the coronavirus

On Sunday January 17, Anne-Laure Jousse went to the Jean Coutu pharmacy in her neighborhood to buy a condolence card. We know it, we find everything at Jean Coutu, in addition to drugs: brooms, chocolates, scouring sponges and even, yes, condolence cards.

Posted on January 24, 2021 at 5:00 a.m.

Patrick Lagacé
Patrick Lagacé

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But when Mme Jousse goes to the Jean Coutu cashier on avenue du Mont-Royal at the corner of rue de Lanaudière, there is a bone.

“I can’t sell you the card,” the cashier told her.

– Oh really why ?

– Because it is not an essential product. “


Anne-Laure Jousse in front of the Jean-Coutu branch at the corner of avenue du Mont-Royal and rue de Lanaudière

Mme Jousse, who had momentarily forgotten the artificial Berlin Wall that draws the line between what is essential and non-essential in commerce in these times of health emergency, undertook to parley with the cashier. She pointed out to the cashier that people continue to die, even in times of pandemic …

Sorry, I can’t, the cashier replied again.

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The manager showed up at the cash register, Mme Jousse reiterated his desire to purchase this condolence card to signify his support and friendship to the family of the deceased.

“You can’t sell greeting cards,” replied the manager.

– Can’t you make a small exception? », Asked Anne-Laure Jousse.

Response from the manager: “What we can do is deliver it to you at a pick-up point, including cosmetics,” explained the manager. You leave the store, you call us, you pay by phone and we come to deliver it to you on the sidewalk in front of the store… ”

If you say to yourself, at this point in the chronicle, “But is that a joke? “, Rest assured, you are not alone, since this is exactly what Anne-Laure Jousse said to herself at the Jean Coutu cash desk:” Is that a joke? “

Response from the manager: “No. ”


At this point in the story, it is possible that the bona fide reader of this column will think that I am making this up, so I want to reassure him. I submitted M’s storyme Jousse to Jean Coutu – well, not to Mr. Jean Coutu himself, but to the communications department of the channel that bears his name – and indeed, I was told, it is in accordance with the regulations currently in force in Quebec …

Well, I swear to you this is not a column to criticize anyone.

It is a chronicle to leave a trace, a trace of what the pandemic has caused.

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The pandemic has resulted in sacrifice, suffering, epiphanies, expense, transformative opportunities. All of this is documented. We must also document the absurdities caused by the pandemic …

Some would say that the government should rush to allow the sale of greeting cards, that birthdays, births and deaths – especially deaths – do not take a break during this bloody pandemic …

I understand.

But the list of absurdities created by the essential / non-essential distinction is simply too long to fix them individually.

I understand the logic behind this decision: to give as few reasons as possible to the citizen to leave his home. I also understand the injustice of spring: the shoe store, closed-confined, could not sell shoes … while Walmart sold them.

Hence this list: here is what is essential and here is what is not, separated by an arbitrary Berlin wall which will inevitably impose adjectives derived from Kafka. Afterwards, we could do a TV series just on the absurdities created by these necessarily arbitrary distinctions, everyone has their story of absurdity …

I can be in the field, sometimes I am, but it is a problem without a simple solution.

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The solution is to end the pandemic.

And even that, as we know, is not easy.

At least the Canadian is doing well …


After being confirmed that this “procedure” was not a joke, that she really had to leave the pharmacy to order over the phone what she could not buy immediately, Anne-Laure Jousse left the room. pharmacy with what I imagine to be a long sigh of discouragement like the orange line of the Montreal metro …

She walked for a few moments, then she called the cosmetics department at the Jean Coutu pharmacy she had just left.

“It will be $ 9,” the cosmetics cashier told her.

– Nine dollars for a small card, are you sure?

– If you don’t want to buy it, no problem …

– No, I’ve come a long way for this card, I’ll take it… ”

Mme Jousse gave his credit card number to the cosmetics girl, who then asked him to call her back when she was at the store door.

“But I’m 100 meters from the store…

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The procedure is to call back when you are in front of the store. “

Anne-Laure Jousse returned to the pharmacy. And there, in front of the door, in absolute respect for “procedure”, Anne-Laure Jousse called the cosmetics department of Jean Coutu to indicate that she was there and ready to take possession of this damn card of condolences.

Shortly after, the cashier came out with her little heeled shoes, both feet in the basket, to give her her condolence card and the receipt …

A few days later, relating this saga, Anne-Laure Jousse was still perplexed: “I have not yet found the adjective to describe this scene. “

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