Today will be my first day wearing my new uniform. Terry, in his infinite wisdom, has decided that he wants the store supervisors differentiated from the rest of the staff by what they wear. The previous uniform was something of a sore point.
When we were hastily taken over and rebranded two years ago, New Food Place sent in somebody to take our uniform measurements and order what we needed. This woman, Tricia she was called, was also responsible for organising everybody's contracts, so she had a bit of a say in who got what posts. Problem was, she had her favourites. She immediately took to Lorraine - who wouldn't though? - and made sure she got a supervisor post and ordered her five tops, five pairs of trousers, a quality name badge (not like the DIY-kit ones most of us wear) and all the accessories. However, Tricia didn't like me and Wendy. We got two tops each, no name badge and she did her very best to try and stop Terry making us supervisors.
Lots of bitterness broke out in the store when it was revealed that Tricia hadn't been allocating uniform fairly. Some part-time staff had got more uniform than the full time staff. She told some people that blouses and shirts weren't available, but allowed others to have them.
As a result, two years on, some of us are wearing rags because we got so little that it's been washed a thousand times over.
But not from today. I have shiny new shirts and ties to wear, as well as a smart name badge. We were all happy with this new situation except Brian, one of the stock-control supervisors, who took issue with the colour of the shirts. He's gone away and moaned to Terry and he's been told he can buy his own shirts and wear those. This caused a minor riot amongst the other supervisors. We all went to Terry and announced we'd be coming in wearing luminous yellow shirts if we were allowed to pick and choose what we wear now. He quickly backed down and is making Brian wear the standard attire.
So all is now well in that department.
Today was Good Friday and it was horrendously busy. We slightly underestimated how many bodies we needed to man the checkouts and ended up borrowing from all over the shop. On the whole, however, the day ran pretty smoothly, but you can always rely on one person to go and bugger it up by kicking up a fuss.
Cleo rang her bell to summon me to her checkout and explained: "This gentleman wants to pay for his goods by cheque, but the guarantee card he's given me isn't for the same bank account as the one written on the cheque."
You'd think it would be quite straightforward to handle this.
"I'm sorry," I explained to the man, "if you want to use this cheque, you'll need to provide us with a guarantee card for the account the money will be coming from."
"I don't believe this."
People say that quite a lot. They can never quite believe their own stupidity it would seem. Never occurs to them for a moment that it's their cock-up. They just think that, being paid shop assistants, we should be able to sort out any mess of theirs.
He continued: "My name is on my card, and it's the same name printed on the cheque!" He waved the card in my face as proof.
"Yes, I'm aware of that, but the card is for a Barclay's account and the cheque is for a Halifax account. The guarantee card is our confirmation that your bank will honour the payment to us regardless of the funds in your account..."
"Well, are you trying to say I've got no money, because I have!"
"No, I'm not saying that...all I'm saying is that we can't accept cheques unless they are supported by a guarantee card..."
"But I've given you one that clearly belongs to me!"
"I'm not disputing that the card belongs to you, I'm saying that we can't take payment by this cheque unless you provide us with the card for the same account."
At this point his wife starts. "This is pathetic. I've never known anything so small minded and petty."
"I'm not being petty, I'm just trying to explain the situation to you..."
"We've paid with these a hundred times in Tesco!"
I seriously doubted that this was true, but continued, "Well Tesco's till operators clearly haven't checked the details on the card you're giving them. Checking card details against cheque details is the first thing our cashiers are trained to do when they learn to handle cheques."
Like most similar situations, my attitude wasn't helping matters. I'm not the best person to deal with these situations because I take the moral high ground with everything. I insist that, if I was the customer, I would never expect shops to take a cheque from me without a guarantee the payment would be honoured, and I believe all customers should think the same way. But they don't.
"So, to be clear, you definitely don't have the card for this cheque account?"
"OK, well if I call the manager down, we can see what he says, but I'm quite sure he'll only confirm what I've said."
I was right. He did. So, what did the customers do? Threw us the card to pay with that! After all that fuss! I was furious with them.
Food Place won't be the same for me after today. It was Kate's last day before she moves on for pastures new. She's finished her degree and has secured a job as a Human Resources Field Manager for a large clothing retail chain.
I can't imagine what it's going to be like when I don't have somebody's accent to mock. And nobody else can laugh with me when I find random things funny. Renault Espaces. Poo. Certain doors. Chairs with amusing postures. Evac-Chairs. Diana Ross. Shoe polish. Poop-scoop bags. Klingons.
I'm going to miss having her there so much. She started there at the same times as me, and she's one of the few people who've been there the whole time I've worked at Food Place. I'm really happy she's going on to better things, and I hope I'm not too far behind her, but HOW DARE SHE LEAVE ME ALL ON MY OWN!
Well, there's 83 other colleagues, but they're not Kate!