At the time my computer broke, Robert, the new department manager, was just beginning to get up everybody's nose, if you recall. Since then, he's surpassed himself numerous times and now, I can say in all honesty, not one single person in the store actually likes him. And very few haven't been pissed off by him yet.
I first realised that I wasn't going to get along with him very well about a week into his training month. Although I'd heard all about him from other people and knew of the numerous incidents with my colleagues that had caused upset, he hadn't actually directly annoyed me. As it turned out, he did it without intending it.
One day, I was in the toilets, having a wee at one of the urinals (as you do) and he entered the room. Now, any man will know that it is basic toilet etiquette that, when somebody is using one of the two urinals, instead of going to relieve your bladder right beside them you use the cubicle instead. Apart from the basic manners aspect, the other urinal is in full view of the door and, should somebody open it, any passing waif or stray can get a front-row view of you peeing. All of this bypassed Robert though. He parked himself next to me, so close he was almost touching me. This alone was enough to distract me and no amount of concentration could allow my urination to continue. As if that wasn't enough, he then started blathering away about the trolley in the warehouse with checkout sweets needing to be worked immediately and that I should get one of the 'checkout girls' to see to it. Apart from the fact that 25% of the 'checkout girls' are actually male, did Robert not realise that this was a totally inappropriate moment to hold a strategy meeting?
Toilet troubles aside, he's also got it into his head that I'm his PA. He keeps stalking me, with his arms full of paperwork that he wants me to do for him. On three occasions, he's dumped a load of handwritten training sheets for his staff on me and informed me that they need typed up. OK, in the past I've been more than happy to do peoples' typing purely because I can get it done three times faster than most people. But other people ask nicely. "I'm sorry to bother you Andrew, but could I be cheeky and ask you to type this up for me when you get a spare minute?" is the usual request. But in Robert's case it's more like: "I need these typed in time for a training meeting at two-thirty-sharp." Excuse me mate, I'm a flamin' shop assistant! If I wanted to be somebody's secretary, I'd pick somebody much more charismatic and attractive than you!
And then came the day he had to get some passport photographs taken for his Premises Supervisor liquor licence. He informed me at 9:00am that he was getting them done and would need to be reimbursed for the expense from the store allowance. At 10:45am, he found me on my morning break in the canteen and remarked, "I would have thought breaks were less important than finishing your work - you still owe me four pounds for my photographs." I owe him money? The fool. He's not even the manager of my department!
And those are just the incidents where he's got up my nose. I'm too much of a prude to repeat any of the numerous expletives I've heard Wendy - who famously doesn't swear - utter in reference to him (I'll give you a clue what the worst one was - it started with a 'c' and ended with a 't').
Food Place decided, quite rightly, that the deli counter in our store wasn't worth operating. Considering it needs to be staffed for fifteen hours a day and loses more money in waste than it actually puts into the tills, I certainly can't argue with their reasoning. The unfortunate aspect of this is that the four staff suddenly didn't have a job to do. Because they'd all been with Food Place for longer than five years, it meant the four newest recruits from the other departments lost their jobs. We had to lose two very good, very flexible cashiers to make way for two old-fogeys who if they operated any slower would stop. But then, that's life.
At present, the deli counter remains in place but is soon to be removed to make way for an extended bakery section. How exciting. I often wonder why Food Place didn't think, 'oh, why don't we look at all the work that needs done with this store, and do it all at the same time to save money?' In January we had a store refit, in March they replaced the freezers, in May they replaced the checkouts and the kiosk, in June they closed the deli and, soon, they're coming back to move the kiosk (again!) slightly. What a total waste of resources. Surely the thing they did first, the painting of the walls, should have been done last, when they had everything where they wanted it.
Of course, there's been the usual ones. The Kappa-clad chavvy mothers who accuse me of starving their children because I won't let them have a £4.18 tin of infant formula in exchange for a £2.80 Healthy Start token. But aside from those, there haven't been a great number of remarkable customers. There was one lady who came in to be refunded for some cat food and we couldn't work out how the hell she'd managed to buy it from Food Place because it was a variety we don't stock. She rang ten minutes later to apologise, saying she'd just remembered that she bought it in Morrison's.
Our store was affected twice by water over the past couple of weeks. When the heavy rains first started, one of the pipes that carries rainwater burst and emptied over the wines & spirits aisle. Several customers were soaked and angrily demanded that we replace their clothing and we had a lot of mopping up to do. Later in the week, the biggest fuck-off torrential downpour I've ever seen in my life turned the car-park into a lake and the water ran into the store. Within half-an-hour it had spread across the shop floor was approaching ankle-depth. It totally knocked out four of the tills when it became deep enough to bathe the computer terminals beneath them. Yet more mopping up to do, which several of us volunteered to stay overnight and do (night-work premium - RICH!). The engineers arrived to fix things (freezers, chiller cabinets, ovens, tills, the lot) and perform safety checks at about 3am, and we were ready to trade in time for opening the following morning. Terry didn't manage to drag himself in from his holiday though.
So, that's about all there is to update on, so with any luck I can resume normal posting from today.