Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Yet Another Catch-Up Post

It's been a while since I last posted and there are several reasons for this. First and foremost, I've started my university course over the last couple of weeks, so I've been settling into that. Another reason is that I've been ill. I was struck down (how dramatic) with a sickness bug - the sort that leaves you with bad chest pains caused by overly energetic vomiting. The other reason is, I've been so sick to death of Food Place that I completely lost my sense of humour about working there. But that's, hopefully, buried now, so I can get back to normal.

The frequency of my posts might well decline from now on. I've got my degree to think about and I'm still, rather foolishly, trying to cram in 27 hours of Food Place a week. I'm actually feeling a lot more confident that I can cope with this now that I've got started with it. My university timetable is pretty forgiving and, considering that I can work the majority of my hours over the weekend, I can still get another three shorter shifts in through the week and still get a day-off from both education and work - although it's probably going to end up being my 'frantic independent study day'.

So, back to Food Place...
The atmosphere at work has improved dramatically. Whether it's because I haven't been there as much or whether it's to do with people calming down, I'm not sure. I'm just happy that things have settled onto an even keel.

The first point to note: the powers that be have decided to make yet more changes to our store. Not content with doing a full refit early this year, installing new freezers in March, removing the deli and installing new checkouts, they now have deemed it necessary to install a 'queuing system' at the kiosk.

Now, I'm not denying that this particular addition is more than welcome. Customers are notoriously useless at organising themselves into orderly queues - particularly at the kiosk. You get five people queuing at one side and three at the other; you get people barging to the front regardless. Well not any more! Next week, they're installing railings around the kiosk with 'impulse purchase' racks in the middle. And we'll be able to press a little button from any of the tills that will cause a robotic voice to herald:

"Next customer to cashier number two please!"

Very Post Office. I'm actually finding the whole prospect quite amusing. Ever since Peter Kay mocked the little voice you hear in Argos, I can't think of it without giggling. I can only imagine how bad I'm going to be when it's actually installed.

Bakery Disaster
On Sunday I was called upon to help on the bakery as Margaret had phoned in sick. It was all going to be so simple. I'd been left a list of exactly what I needed to put into the ovens, which setting to use and what times I should do it. I wasn't overly thrilled at the prospect, probably through the certain knowledge I was going to burn myself, but I nonetheless thought I'd cope.

The burn scenario popped up much sooner than anticipated. As I was removing the first batch of crusty rolls, I pulled the tray a little too forcefully and it shot right into my forearm. Ouch. My reflexes pulled me back quick enough to avert a major blister situation, but it still hurt.

And then I got burned again. I'd taken out the wholemeal bloomers, wrapped them all with the cursed sealing machine and placed them back onto the tray to take to the shelves. I prodded the tray to make sure it wasn't too hot and it didn't appear to burn me. So I picked it up with my bare hands and set off. It was fine at first, but at the very moment it was too late to turn back the thing suddenly became intensely hot. By the time I arrived at the shelf it was as though I was carrying a red-hot poker - I've never dropped anything so fast in all my life! I now have very red fingers.

Things passed without further catastrophe for an hour or so. At one stage I actually felt like I was on top of things. I had the shelves fully stocked with every single product line, it was all selling, quite literally, like hot cakes and I had my next batches in the ovens. Alas, sadly I hadn't timed things very well. When a load is ready to come out of the oven, a very loud siren sounds and refuses to shut-up until you open the oven door. All four ovens blasted off within five seconds of each other - it sounded like the Germans bombers were on their way - and I handled this sudden emergency very badly. I tried to get the sodding pastries out as quick as I could (the time between them being fully baked and turning black is roughly eight seconds) and ended up dropping a whole tray of Very Berry Muffins. Cue much swearing and further panic about getting the other trays out.

I muddled my way through it all though in the end. Considering I hardly ever work on there, my sales figures for the morning weren't bad at all. So I was, at least, praised for that. I got a nice little thank-you mention on the board for my efforts.

Still, I won't be doing that again in a hurry.


James UK said...

Good luck with the degree. Do try and set aside a few minutes each day / week to write some comments down. I'd and I expect many others would be interested to hear how you get on.

"...like hot cakes"

If I was you, I'd keep constantly using that "selling like hot cakes" phrase all the time I was in the bakery, to drive the others nuts. ;-)

Al said...

That sounds pretty much how I would picture me in the bakery. I think I would have burnt myself more than a couple of times as well.

I like the sound of the kiosk queuing system, although surely some of those queue barriers would have done roughly the same job without the extra cost and the voice? Although I suppose having something like that makes it more difficult for customers to ignore.

Good luck with your degree.

AggressiveAdmin said...

Thanks :)

I'll try to write as much as I can, because there's usually something interesting to say about Food Place. It's likely my posts will be shorter though :(

I think the queueing system at the kiosk is being rolled out to all stores because, rather bizarrely, they've put it into Ellenfoot Food Place and it closes next week. That often happens with nationwide rollouts - they get an external agency to do all the work, so things get rolled into stores that are closing soon anyways. I remember a couple of years back, when they introduced new promotion-ends, they built the things in the Bartonfield Food Place and it too was closing within a few weeks of the work being done.

It'll be interesting to see how the customer respond to it all.

D said...

Reminds me of my first shift covering for a waiter. I had to pick up the plates with a napkin as they were so hot, and ended up inserting a napkin into someone's gravy.

I then managed to brush my hand against the hot plate and got a 2nd degree burn - Ended up wearing gauze and bandages for the next 2 weeks.

Again, good luck with the degree. I'm in much the same boat, trying to cram full time work into a uni timetable. Just remember where your priorities lie! ...How depressing, I sound like my parents.

Al said...

Are you aware that your blog was mentioned in The Guardian?

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