It's the counter, usually near the main checkouts, with tills that sell, exclusively, cigarettes, tobacco and lottery tickets (or, at least, they're supposed to sell those things exclusively - people actually insist on paying for basket-fulls of groceries there too). When I went to the USA, a few years ago now, cigarettes seemed to be either available from certain sign-posted checkouts or just out on the shop floor with the other merchandise. I'm not sure about other countries though. Perhaps our tiny nation is alone in adding kiosks to supermarkets - just to annoy the staff.
When we got the new kiosk in May, I spent a lot of time on there. The slightest hint of a queue and I was right there, leaping onto one of the tills to help out. This was because I liked the shiny new-ness of it and, for some reason, this enhanced the experience of working on there. It was the same two weeks ago, when the whole kiosk was moved along several feet to get it away from the entrance. Just that slight move seemed to change the whole experience of working on it.
Of course, that's worn off now. All that I'm left with is the irritations and frustrations that come with manning this counter. Allow me to elaborate.
Kiosk customers will often ask the most stupid questions, make the most vague requests you could imagine, or give you too much information about what they want:
- "What's the lightest cigarette you do?" Are you dumb? Do you really think it makes any difference?
- "Twenty fags please." What am I? Psychic? I need to know which brand you want!
- "Twenty Embassy Regal Kingsize please." Do you want Embassy or Regal? One's red, one's blue. Or do you want ten of each? Help me here!
And as if some of the demands they make aren't stupid enough, customers can also cause annoyance in the way they make their demands. Lots of naughty customers will approach you and say something like this:
"Could I have twenty Lamberts, ten Richmond Superkings, ten Regal Kingsize, five Hamlet cigars, three lucky dip lottery tickets for tonight, two lucky dips for Saturday - on separate tickets, one of them's for Aunt Belle - a Hotpicks three-numbers for tonight, a Lucky Donkey scratchcard - oh, and a lighter."
And I'm standing there, cross-eyed and thinking "que?". How on earth could anybody expect you to remember all of that twaddle?
But, worse still, there are the people who think you're incapable of taking more than one request at a time. It's much worse with lottery customers. They'll begin by giving you one play-slip which you then process for them. This involves taking the slip from them, walking to the lottery machine, and then walking back to till to add the lottery ticket to their bill. When you've done that, they hand you another slip. Repeat process. And another. Repeat process. Then they ask for a lucky dip ticket. Repeat process. Then they want a Thunderball. Repeat process. Then they ask for twenty Bensons. Walk over and get them, bring them back to scan onto the till. Then they ask for twenty Richmond. Repeat process.
I could, honestly, kill those people. I really could. Are they just trying to see how fast they can get me to move? Or whether they can make me dizzy?
The kiosk is quite clearly not a checkout. There's no conveyor belt, no packing area and no scales. But that doesn't stop people thinking they can pay for anything they like there. "But I'd have to queue twice!" they protest if you tell them to pay for their shopping at the checkouts and then get their lottery tickets. I always feel like saying: "Oh, so you'd also like to pay at the deli counter to avoid queuing again?" Bugger off.
I have no objection to somebody with a small basket of items paying at the kiosk at quieter times. They want lottery or ciggies so it makes sense to pay in one go at one till. But lugging a basket crammed with 50 items through the kiosk at peak lottery times is not a good idea. For a start, it's not fair on the people who do it properly and pay for their shopping at the checkouts then join the kiosk queue for whatever else they need. There's nothing worse than waiting for ages behind somebody who's paying for far too much on tills they shouldn't be using.
But since Food Place has forbidden us to turn baskets away from the kiosk or put 10-items signs up, there's not a lot we can do about it apart from politely remind people not to do it. And get our head's bitten off for doing so.
Back to Lottery
Why can't people fill out slips properly? It's simple. You mark the draw you're entering, and mark the numbers you wish to play. If you can't decide on numbers, mark the 'lucky dip' box and the machine will pick for you. If you want more than one line of numbers, simply complete another box.
But it's all too complicated for some. About half of the slips you're handed and place into the machine will be spat back out. People don't fill in enough numbers, they don't mark the relevant boxes to opt-out of additional games, they mark too many numbers. It's really not that bloody difficult!
And then you get people who hand you slips that look like they've been eaten and vomited back up. How the hell do they expect the machine to process it? Damp, full of creases, coffee stains. Dear oh dear. Customers will sometimes make their own alterations to their play-slips. For example, last year the UK lottery operator made the play-slips for all games longer - meaning they didn't fit into the little plastic wallets that some people keep them in. No bother! They just cut the tops off them! For God's sake, it's a machine! It only recognises what it's programmed to recognise!
Some don't even bother with play-slips. We have a growing number of regular customers who, week-in, week-out, can't be arsed to fill out a slip, instead choosing to come to the counter and rhyme-off the numbers they want for you to enter manually into the machine. Can't you see there are people waiting? I haven't got time to prat about waiting on you hand and foot!
Don't dare ask for anything from the top shelf. I'm five-foot-naught and can't reach without standing on the bottom shelf and smacking my head off the top shelf in the process!