Word pretzels, no doubt you all at some point have to go to a supermarket to go food shopping. I do quite often, almost every day, in fact. Mainly to get lunch, or, once or twice a week, to get the weekly food shop.
Once upon a time, when Master Johnny and Miss Katherine worked for Waitrose, we had the pleasure of strolling up and down the aisles, considering all the exotic foods and brands this posh shop had to offer, with the added luxury of 15% family discount at the check out.
Sadly those days are over, which is a bit of a blow; although, to be honest, it was Lady Barton St Mary who had the family discount card and she tended to buy only gin and chocolate, mistakenly thinking that staff below stairs were adding to the bi-weekly organic vegetable delivery.
However, there are the rare occasions when we food shop in the supermarket together, a form of retirement practice. These trips tend to follow the same pattern; an hour before we are due to leave, Lady BSM gives me the option of staying at home whilst she shops, but adding it would be nice to have my company. I, of course, love to be in her company, so agree to accompany her.
After half an hour in the supermarket, still in the first aisle where she’s reading every ingredient in a jar of ‘All Your Shakras’ highly organic free range chicken stock’, I’m starting to wish I’d stayed at home, knowing that either an argument or a spate of self harm could break out within the next 2 hours. Of course, we do have a special arrangement when it comes to food shopping; I pick up products and put them in the trolley. She then carefully removes and replaces them with identical items that she has chosen. It’s a jolly game.
Anyway, that’s not the fault of the supermarket, but those self service till operators are. I’m sure you know what I mean. The machines where you scan your items yourself before
paying. They’re there to save time and money. For the supermarkets, of course. Why employ till operators when your customers can work for you for free? They’ve also introduced a new phrase into the English language: ‘Unexpected item in bagging area’ -everybody’s favourite. This has also spawned the special ‘Unexpected item in bagging area’ dance for customers: a swaying movement with a vague waving of the arm, raising of eyebrows followed by a nod at the robot till operator. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a member of staff happy to wander over and tap a few numbers into the fussy machine in order for you to continue
working shopping. If you’re unlucky, Mavis has gone for a fag break or Jarmelle is too busy chatting up Alicja on fruit and veg to notice the smoke coming out of the ears of happy shopper on till #3.
Of course, when you’ve finished scanning all of your products, you can then have the pleasure of paying for all your goods. Do you have a loyalty card? Robot till operators in certain supermarkets have their own catchphrase.
“All your club card points add up,” it tells you, which is nice to know that my loyalty card is proficient in at least one numerical operation. This is usually at the point it’s spewing out a long roll of meaningless vouchers (“spend £40 on Peruvian weave rugs and get 20p a litre off your fuel bill!”) followed by your receipt.
But that’s not the worst habit of these mischievous machines, not as far as I’m concerned. Their worst offence is when you’ve popped in for some lunch, spending a small amount and paying in cash. One thing is guaranteed. If you feed your robot till operator some paper money, in return it will give your change in the most awkward way possible. For example:
Lunch costs £2.75. You feed a £5 note into the machine. Machine returns your change of £2.25 in this form: 1 x £1 coin, 1 x 50p, 5 x 10p, 4 x 5p, 1 x 2p and 3 x 1p. Which you then have to scrape up and shovel into your pocket. Given half the chance, these robots will throw more shrapnel at you than a world war 1 shell. It’s sad watching workers visiting the supermarket for their well earned food break, spend 10 minutes working for the shop before leaving with green hands and a limp.
Don’t get me started on the carrier bag conversations…