Why do people feel the need to rush out and buy enough provisions to see them through a nuclear winter every time there's a suggestion it might snow?
Food Place was absolutely heaving almost from the moment the doors opened this morning. And it the shop wasn't just full - it was full of drama queens. People fighting eachother at the shelves, jumping over trolleys to reach their desired products, stamping one another underfoot...OK, now I'm the drama queen. But, take my word for it, it was busy.
This matter wasn't helped when a member of our checkout staff phoned in sick. We're very honoured at Food Place to have the only woman in the world who's ever been pregnant working for us. If she so much as feels mildly tired she phones in sick and is always referring to herself as being "with child". Thank the Almighty that her morning sickness has passed; I was getting rather tired of her constantly telling me how awful it was, as though I'd never been ill before. I've known people deal with terminal illnesses with more decorum than she's handling this. So, anyways, the selfish, thoughtless swine chooses today to drop us right in the proverbial!
So, being abnormally busy, we didn't have enough staff as it was. I had to run around the other departments asking members of staff to stay behind and cover part of her shift on the checkouts. Some people enjoy the buzz of dealing with such emergencies - morons, that's all I can say about them. After the fifth refusal I was a gibbering wreck, saved only by the lovely Amanda from stock control offering to help out.
By three o'clock, the panic-buying reached it's height. We had every single checkout open - which was an achievement in itself as I almost had to recruit cashiers from the street outside - and queues were sprawling everywhere. The snow had been falling since lunchtime and the gale-force winds were on the go again.
Suddenly, the store was plunged into darkness. The customers all did their little gasp - they always gasp when the power cuts out - and looked up at the lights as if their collective will-power could turn them back on. I was just standing there thinking, shitting hell this is all I need! Glancing up the aisles, I could see people, unabashed by this turn of events, continuing to shop in the dark - as they always do.
The cashiers didn't know what to do. I had to quickly run along telling them all to wait a minute or so and the backup supply would kick in to power the tills so they could carry on. The waiting customers were giving me dirty looks through the darkness, obviously thinking I wouldn't see them.
Meanwhile, the managers were herding people off the shop floor to the checkouts. The emergency power supply will only keep the tills running for twenty minutes, but the customers seemed to have problems understanding this: "YES! I'm almost finished, I'll be there soon!" They're the centre of the universe you see. No concept whatsoever that there were a hundred other people to serve too. I didn't care though - let them wander around in the dark and injure themselves before arriving at the tills and finding they've gone dead. At least they couldn't say we didn't warn them.
So, once all the customers were out, thankfully before the tills died, I posted the cashiers to the entrance. It's amazing how blind customers are. No lights in the car park, no lights on the store signs, total darkness inside - and they still get themselves a trolley and try to get in. Some of them even tried to argue that they only wanted a couple of things. We've got no power you total fools!
It was around two hours before the power came back on, but by this time we were under around 6cm of snow, so nobody was bothered about food shopping by that point.
All of this will create mayhem in the cash office tomorrow morning. Although the tills were still powered and able to handle transactions, the cash office system was down, so it won't have logged the sales taken during the power-out. This will mean that every single till will be hundreds of pounds over and all the credit card transactions will need to be manually processed. Thank the lord I don't start until 3pm tomorrow!