Thursday, May 31, 2007

New Change Safe

When I walked into work today, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. The powers that be have delivered us a small safe to sit under our 'supervisors podium', storing change so that we can issue it to the tills without trundling up to the cash office.

You're probably thinking, how unbelievably sad and demented can this boy get? You've probably got a picture, an accurate one at that, in your head of me walking in, spotting the thing and my eyes lighting up like a child's at Christmas. Yes, Yes, I know. But when you spend most of your waking life in Food Place, anything new and improved is something to get happy clappy about, believe me.

But is it an improvement? It dawned on me this afternoon that this new contraption would run out of change eventually. Which would mean going to the cash office and carrying a huge bag full of refill stock down. Still, it's got to beat running around like a blue-arsed fly. And I've worked out my method. We shall keep a base float in there of two thousand pounds (I've even broken it down into denominations in accordance with what we use!). This float can be chipped away at throughout the day as the tills require change and, once a day when the last change run is done, we can take the sheets to the cash office, add them all up, tap them into Bob (the cash office computer) and restock from the cash office safe. It just means the small safe will have to be counted whenever I do a cash office tender count, but I can live with that.

I'm yet to discover how the customers will react to the new safe. You might be thinking, but surely, it's none of the customers' business where you store the change? Well, you're wrong. They'll make it their business. Especially the woman I mention the other day in my 'weirdos' post. As soon as she realises, she'll start poking about behind the podium, under the pretense of looking for a pound coin she dropped, to see it. And then there's all the customers that will come over and disturb me while I'm clearly busy counting the coins in the bloody thing. I mean, you just wouldn't do it would you? If you were in a shop and you required assistance, you just would not go up and start bothering a member of staff that was counting money would you? Oh, but the morons will...

Keeping within the theme of improvements, I decided that the cash office layout had become boring and required changing. I do this from time to time. Colleagues have noticed that I seem to alternate between having a clinically tidy office, that looks totally bare because it doesn't have a scrap of clutter in it, and going for the 'fuller' look. Today I changed over to the 'fuller' look. I went round the other offices and stole equipment such as paper-tidies, pen cups, plastic trays and baskets, and re-furnished the cash office with them. Nobody will find out about my thievery as only four people are allowed into the cash office - unless somebody spots their paper-rack on the camera monitors (eek). I even unscrewed and made-off-with a shelf from the Training Room so I could re-jig the wall shelves in the cash office. I was bored of them all being perfectly aligned, so I've moved the planks up and down for a zig-zag look.

I was actually considering buying a Yucca plant from the store to add as a finishing touch.

Wendy will kill me when she sees my handiwork. Just as she's getting used to where I moved everything last time I refitted the office, I move it all again. In fact, last time I reorganised the office, I did so because I was sick of all the clutter and I threw away one hell of a lot of stuff - she still thinks I just tidied it away into drawers (eek, again). She'll kill me if she finds out I scopped out her collection of broken pens.

Sharp-eyed readers may also have noticed that I've changed the colours of this blog template. I'm far too lazy to make my own design, but I will at least commit to rejigging the colours from time to time. When the weather turns sunny and nice, I might just go orange and yellow.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

More Who's Who

It's been a while since I last blogged about my colleagues in any sort of depth. Well, there's Sandra, but I don't need an excuse to bitch about her. There's also been a few new staff since I wrote my original Who's Who post - and then there's the people I missed out the first time - so I feel it's time to update you on the people I work with.

Without further ado...

She's the most remarkable of the new starters. If you've ever been looking to the original dumb blonde, you needn't look much further than Lisa. Example: I was standing behind her till waiting to check her change one day, just as she happened to be filling a pod with money. She put it into the air chute and watched it shoot up the tube. She turned to me:


Feeling she was on the verge of asking a stupid question, I was cautious: "Yeeeees?"

"You know when I put the money in those little pods and put it in there..."


"Where does it go?"

Oh my God how dumb can you get? "Well Lisa...they shoot up into the ceiling, then down through the wall, underneath the ground and all the way to Head Office."

She stared at me for a moment and said: "Oh. Right." Before I burst out laughing and called her a silly bint and informed that it's actually nowhere near as MI5 as that - they really just travel through the chute and drop into the cash office at the other end.

Despite her empty-headed moments, she does have quite a good sense of humour though. Well, maybe that's the wrong way of putting it. It's got more to do with her saying things in a certain way that makes them sound funny - so I suppose you could say she has a good sense of comic timing. An example of her cracking me up over something very minor was when Cleo remarked to her one day "oh my God, you look like hell Lisa!". Lisa came to tell me about this and said: "I wouldn't care, but I actually made an effort today - put my makeup on and everything and apparently I look like hell!" Don't know what I found so funny about that...I just did.

She also called Alex a cheap man-slut. Classic.

The second dumb-blonde we have. Her name makes her sound like an old granny, when she's actually only about 29 - named after her great-gran it would seem. Anyways, she's just plain dippy but, again, in a funny sort of way. Like the day she set off to walk to work and walked right past Food Place and didn't realise until she got to the roundabout, half a mile down the road. Or, less amusing, the time she walked off and went for her break leaving her cash drawer lid wide-open. It sat like that for about five minutes until I noticed. Amazingly, no cash was missing when I checked the till.

There's already been a lengthy post about Alex, so I'll make this brief. He's a tart. He straightens part of his hair each morning to get his 'do looking just right. He wears his uniform with added accessories to make sure he doesn't look "too naff" and spoil his image. He makes it a hobby to go around everybody in the store, find out what buttons he needs to press to really aggravate them, and presses them. I have no time for the little dweeb.

Or Lady Macbeth as I tend to call her. She works on the frozen foods which is ironic since she's a bit of an Ice Queen. I don't think I've ever seen her smile - at all - and she rarely speaks to anybody and if she does, she doesn't make eye contact. Her eyes always have this, sort of, glazed over look as though her brain is another realm. I actually find her pretty scary and certainly wouldn't like to be alone with her behind a locked door.

She's actually an ex-colleague, but speaking of Ice Queens reminded me about her and I felt she was worth a mention. I was having a laugh with Marjorie about her the other day as it happens. She used to work on the checkouts, but only one shift a week - on a Saturday afternoon. This was back in the days when I was just a lowly student till-body and because I always started an hour before her, I usually ended up on the till in front of her. Well, trying to get a conversation out of her - you might as well have chatted to the carrier bags. She was very snobby - completely above speaking to any of us - and was the most miserable human being you could ever imagine. A customer came to my till one day and whispered "I came to you because you were smiling - I didn't like the look of that mardy old trout behind." Me, indiscreet as ever, turned round, looked right at her and started giggling. I don't think the Mardy Old Trout was very amused.

She's the first of the supervisors to transfer from closure-threatened-Ellenfoot to our store. She's obviously one of the better team members they had as everybody's instantly taken to her. She's so friendly and genuinely pleasant that it's quite humbling. She likes nothing more than laughing at herself. Like the first staff night-out she came on with us. She'd had several million straight vodkas and fell flat on her face getting out of the taxi. In true Only Fools and Horses style she didn't even have the reflexes to put her hands out and break the fall. Most people, considering the state of her face the next day, would be feeling sorry for themselves. Not Kiera - she thought it was absolutely hysterical and spent most of the day admiring the damage in the mirror.

It's maybe a bit of a foolish idea to start talking about Ed, because I could go on all evening. He's the Grocery Supervisor which he takes to mean Store Manager. He thinks he runs the place and has the idea that he's one notch higher than all the other supervisors. Example:

Last Saturday I was busy refilling the magazine section and he came stomping over: "Andrew, are you keeping your eye on your department, 'cause I don't think you are, there's queues up the aisles, get over there!"

My face fell in horror. Who the hell did he think he was? He was bloody lucky I was in a reasonably good mood, otherwise he might have ended up face first in Hello magazine. But he wasn't finished. When I failed to react adequately to his outburst he started blathering away about being the 'Floor Supervisor' and that it was 'his duty' to keep the store running smoothly and I 'wasn't supporting him'. I walked away from him, inspected the checkouts and found that none of the tills had more than 1 person waiting to be served. And then went back to stalk out the evil Ed and give him a piece of my mind:

"Right Ed, for starters there was nothing wrong with the checkouts. For seconds, you seemed to be implying I was skiving when I was actually filling up the magazines - you know, so we can, sort of, sell them! - and, you seem to forget, you're on a level-pegging with me mate. Any feedback you have about my performance is appreciated, but speak to me like that again on the shop floor, in front of customers, and you'll find yourself the subject of a formal complaint. Right?"

It's amazing how self-righteous and over-defensive I can get over work, but there you go. I was actually quite proud of myself for standing up to him like that - because I'd been dying for an excuse to knock him down a couple of rungs. If I had my way I'd shake him off the ladder altogether.

He expressed interest in the Grocery Department Manager post, vacated last week by Sean, and he was so confident that the job was his, he didn't even bother handing his application form in. Well he's got another thing coming. He'd be lucky to pass the interview, let alone the aptitude tests. This is the person who put of POS advertising, among other things, "Specail Offers" and "Redused to Cleer Items".

Hmm. I try not to get too wound up by him, because I know he's just a moron.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Some Strange People

Due the gossip/hot action drying up at Food Place of late, I thought I might as well tell you all about some of the more bizarre (you have no idea how many attempts it took me to type that word correctly!) customers and random weirdos I've come across. The ones that make strange requests, or have odd habits.

The one that immediately springs to mind is the customer with the weird hair. He's an oldish man, around 65, and the first thing you think of when you look at his hair is 'SHOE POLISH!' And, judging by the contents of his shopping basket, we're not wrong. Every time he comes in he buys a tub of the stuff despite the fact he always wears suede boots. So we're actually quite convinced he does rub shoe polish into his hair - he certainly smells as though he does!

Next up is the lady with the huge bags. When I think of it, she probably belongs in the 'annoying customers' category and doesn't really have a place here, but now I've mentioned her I might as well see her tale through. While she trundles around the store doing her shopping, she places everything into large plastic bags that she's carefully fore-lined her trolley with. When she gets to the checkout, she places each of these bags onto the belt. You have no idea how infuriating this is. The bags are quite tall and you have to stand up to reach into them for the items. Worse still, she insists you put everything back into each bag as you found it.

Next up is Nosey Woman. I first noticed her antics about two years ago. It's almost as though she has a pathological obsession with seeing parts of the store she has no right to see. Whilst waiting to be served at the checkout, she'll lean forward and have a good look underneath the nearest vacant till to see what we keep under there. I've caught her leaning over the (former) customer service desk for a good nose. She'll ask for cardboard boxes and try to follow you into the warehouse. If she sees me carrying change bags she'll wait until I'm nearly at the doors that lead to the office areas before trying to follow me through them to ask a question. If the customer toilet is out of order you can guarantee she'll develop a bladder problem and ask to use the staff ones. When being served at the deli she comes round the side of the counter so she can see behind. Strange. I often wonder whether she's some sort of secret inspector, sent in by Food Place to check these things out. She once asked me if I could spare her some coin bags and she looked very disappointed when I produced these from one of the tills - I think she wanted to try and follow me to the cash office.

And then there's the lady we call Granny Smith. She's one of those people that manages to be absolutely infuriatingly annoying, yet hilarious, without actually doing much. She's a very old lady who comes into the store ten minutes before closing time EVERY night. And she always buys the same things. She goes to the rotisserie/deli counter and squeaks (her voice is very meek):

"could i have two slices of beef please"

When she has obtained her 7p bundle of meat, she turns to the hot chicken cabinet.

"are those plain chickens in there? Not flavoured?"

"Yes love, they're plain"

"Could I have one drumstick please?"

I don't actually know why I bothered typing that dialogue out because the humour factor is completely lost unless you've seen the woman I'm talking about and heard her voice.

When she has her very fussy selection of deli products, she goes for her soap. One bar of the cheapest, nastiest variety we do (Food Place budget label). And then she'll dither around, dragging her little trolley-type-thing behind her until we have to put a tannoy announcement across to get her to come to the tills. If I went into a shop and I seen the staff lowering the shutters and locking doors, I'd feel pressured to get out as quickly as possible. She doesn't. She'd happily stay locked in overnight I think.

I needn't mention Mr Foole again because I gave all the detail you need in this post. But there's another customer who happens to live directly opposite the store who is just as bizarre.

He's called Mike and he has demons. Demons that tell him things are happening when they aren't. He makes endless complaints to us about our nightshift staff playing music so loud he can't sleep - he's very adamant. Even when he complains about it happening on nights when we didn't have the nightshift working, he just won't be told that he's talking bollocks. We do put it much more politely than that, but still. He recently wrote a letter to the local newspaper expressing outrage that Food Place had started charging customers for carrier bags. These charges were, of course, figments of his imagination. He's also accused our staff of: kicking him, pulling faces behind his back (he may have been correct on this one...), swearing at him, jostling him in the street and damaging his car. He claimed Terry had insulted his wife and called their baby son 'butt ugly'. Terry might be a little direct - but get a grip!

I can't believe I can't think of any more weirdos. I KNOW there's at least a hundred more. I suppose I'll just have to discuss them as a I remember them - in different posts.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Operation Checkout

You may remember, a couple of weeks ago, I blogged about the arrival of Operation Checkout (see this post) which is the refit program centred on checkouts and kiosk.

Well the day has now dawned. About an hour before the store closed last night a team of electricians came from nowhere armed with ladders, tools and all kinds of dramatic-looking equipment. By the morning we had shiny new checkouts and a new kiosk.

Now, I was quite looking forward to this happening because the original plans I saw looked quite good. But it would seem somebody decided to change the plans prior to the work being carried out. Instead of the planned ten conveyor-belt-checkouts, we have just seven - one less than we had before! They have, however, made up for this with extra express tills, so it remains to be seen what sort of impact the new setup is going to have on our out-of-control queue problem.

But my main concern is the awful layout of the new checkouts. For a start, half of them are left-hand-scan. I was only serving for ten minutes and my back was breaking! I found myself reaching my right arm across my body to lift things off the conveyor belt. And the cash drawers are now sited to your left (or right, depending which way your till faces) as opposed to directly in front of you on the old tills. I kept trying to dip my hands into the scanner to get customers their change. The receipt printers have also swapped sides so I kept reaching the wrong way.

So, really, I spent the time I was serving jiggling about on my chair like a Morris dancer.

The kiosk is, however, a vast improvement. They've moved the lottery machine so it sits in the middle of the tills as opposed to right at the end, like before. Much less walking time. Sadly, however, they've put the whole thing in a rather stupid place so it practically blocks the entrance doors.

Still, I suppose we'll adapt to this new fangled layout in no time.

In other news, I chased a thieving bastard halfway across town this morning. I spotted him loading razor blades into his pockets from one of the till racks. As till merchandise sort of falls in my jurisdiction, I felt duty-bound (power-mad more like) to take pursuit. And I ended up five streets away, scooping razor cartridges out of the gutter.

Still, it could have been worse. Like the time I actually managed to catch up with a thief and they hurled their stolen booty into my face and cut my forehead. At least I got a battle scar to exhibit to all and sundry.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Dirty Evil Lying...

If anybody's been wondering where I've got to (although I very much doubt it!), I do apologise. My computer decided to fail a week ago past Thursday - on the one day I could have really done with coming home and having a massive bitch-rant about my colleagues. Fortunately, for you readers, the carry-on that erupted on that day has now blown over. So I don't need to go boring you with every minute detail.

I've been back online since last Wednesday but, in all truthfulness, there's been nothing to blog about. The customers have all been very polite, amicable and well-behaved. None of my colleagues have got on my nerves.

But things changed today.

An evil, stuck-up old cow misread shelf signage and bought the wrong products for a promotion and then lied to another member of staff to make me look stupid. Here's what happened:

I was summoned to Amy's checkout and before she could explain to me what the problem was the old bag she was serving blasted in my face.

"Why have I been charged three pounds something for these when they clearly state 'buy two for two pounds'?"

A quick inspection of the products revealed the problem. She had one tub of Food Place Egg Mayonnaise Sandwich Filler and one tub of Preston's Florida Salad. Both were marked at two for two pounds but, since they were completely unrelated products they clearly weren't in the same promotion.

"It's because these are two different products, there's one offer for the sandwich fillers and the same offer is also running on the coleslaw and Florida Salad. But they're separate promotions, so you can't mix them."

"Well why are they both marked at that price?"

"They just happen to be the same price, but they aren't in the same offer. If you don't want to pay separately for them I can change one of them for you so the discount will trigger on the till. I'll run and change it if you like." I'm already being far more polite to this woman than she deserves.

"Well yes. Change one."

"OK. Did you want another Florida Salad or another sandwich filler?"

She lashed out and poked the sandwich filler which I took to be a sign that she wanted another of those.

"Did you want another egg one, because there's other varieties?"

"Well no. No I don't want another egg."

"Tuna and sweetcorn?"

"I don't like tuna."

Oh for fuck's sake will you get a grip woman, I'm trying to help you here!

"Chicken and sweetcorn is in the offer."

"NO! Oh for crying out loud, I'll go and get it myself!"

Oooh you are seriously getting on my wick missus! I had a feeling she was going to go and re-arrange the shelf display in order to try and prove she was mislead (surprising how many customers you catch doing this) so I tottered up the next aisle and hid behind the rotisserie oven, watching her through the glass.

She stood in front of the shelf in question, staring at the products for a few moments. Suddenly she started picking up the pots and slamming them down again, making "this is ridiculous!" gestures and sighing. This went on for at least a minute - by this time I'd told Mike, who was behind the rotisserie with me, what was going on and we were both having a good laugh at her.

But then she did something that changed her from being another hilariously stroppy customer to being a lying turd.

Lorraine happened to walk past the old bitch and she swung round and started twittering away to her about the sandwich fillers. I was trying to hear what she was saying but couldn't, so I came out and moved towards the cakes, pretending to tidy them up so I could eavesdrop. I could see through a gap what was going on and the woman picked up two tubs of Egg Mayo sandwich filler and ranted at Lorraine:

"I've just taken those to the till and the boy down there said I couldn't have them at the offer price of two for two pounds!"

You lying old scumbag!

I came storming out from the cakes, nearly knocked Lorraine flying to get to the shelf and picked up the Florida salad.

"You didn't have two of the sandwich fillers, you had one sandwich filler and one Florida Salad." I waved it in her face for emphasis, "And if you look at the shelves here, the salads are at the bottom and the sandwich fillers are two shelves up. Both of them have separate promotion signs and aren't in the same offer."

She looked shocked. She certainly wasn't expecting her plans to gain victory by deceit to be foiled in this fashion. She mumbled: "It says two for two pounds!", gathered her egg mayo and stormed off to the checkouts.

How dare she tell lies about me. What was she trying to achieve? I bet anything you like she saw them both on the shelf and took them thinking "oh those stupid girls on the till won't realise they're different products" and when her evil little scam didn't work she became embittered and decided to try and get people into trouble by lying. She was probably planning to complain to Head Office and get the local rag to print a headline: "Pensioner conned out of one-pound-eighteen by heartless supervisor at Food Place"

Do you see what working in a supermarket does to you? Your entire day can become consumed by one scabby old bat and a tub of sandwich filler. You can develop conspiracy theories in your mind all about customers and the silly, insignificant things they do.

I don't know why I get so enraged when customers try to get their own way by using dirty tricks. At the end of the day, what does it matter to me? But it doesn't stop me doing my damn best to thwart them. I TOLD YOU THERE'S A LIMIT OF TWO BOXES OF PAIN KILLERS PER CUSTOMER! HOW DARE YOU TRY AND TAKE A THIRD BOX TO ANOTHER TILL! I suppose I see myself as an enforcement officer for Food Place rules.

Oh dear.