Un-CoOperative here; writing as a customer, rather than a retail slave today. After a trip to my local Big-T [the UK’s main rival to the re-branded UK version of Walmart], I came to a realization; supermarket retail slaves suffer through a whole level of retail hell that I had never truly appreciated before.
Perhaps it was the recent reading of ‘co-worker hell’, or the hellspawn e-reader release that I just happened to be reading on my phone while shopping, but I really started to pick up on some of the shit you guys put up with.
Coming from a retail-background of working in a fairly small store – having 10 members of staff on over a sixteen-hour day, or more than a thousand customers being a darn busy weekday at the Un-CoOperative – I always thought big retail store slaves had it fairly easy in comparison. I mean, on a busy Saturday at the Un-CoOperative, we’re expected to handle sixteen to twenty cage deliveries into a warehouse that fits about five cages, whilst manning the tills, stocking the shelves, cleaning, doing reductions, stock rotation, dealing with NAT’s and whiney-ass colleagues, between two of us [yes, TWO] on an afternoon/ evening, when we can quite easily get between 20-30 people queuing for only one till, as our only other staff member is accepting a delivery.
I always thought that the Big-T staff – hired to work on a specific section, or even on till – getting to sit on their asses all day whilst being paid a full £1-3 more an hour CSA rate than I get team-leading.
I walk in to my local Big T. Only planning on grabbing a couple of bits, ready for my three-day weekend of back-to-back ten-hour shifts – mini candy bars, some ice cream, a little soda [so healthy, right?]. I make a bee-line for the Halloween isle; all the big retailers have picked up on the marketing hype brought over from the US [thanks, guys!] surrounding the candy-filled, hellspawn sugar-high holiday. When I was a kid [a mere decade ago-I’m not that old!], my parents wouldn’t have dreamt of letting me go out trick-or-treating [or begging for candy, as my parents would have called it], though the odd bag of Halloween chocolate from Cadbury’s maaay have made its way into our kitchen cupboard every year.
Anyway, I digress. Big T has one Halloween isle – it’s 3 isles wide, with two ‘walls’ of Halloween goodies – one side edibles, the other merchandise like costumes, balloons and dvds, with a bunch of big displays in the centre of the isle. This leaves enough room around the edges for two trolleys to pass either side – IF the idiot custys are paying attention. It’s only a Thursday! I tell myself. School hasn’t let out yet! Most people with ‘real jobs’ will still be at the office for a couple of hours, I thought. Somehow, RHU’ers, this made it worse.
One side of the isle is blocked by a group of five adults’ coo’ing over a drooling, sticky crotchfruit that couldn’t have been older than six months. Besides dripping on the floor [drool, thankfully, nothing more...fragrant] it wasn’t screaming or touching anything, so if anything, it was being a better example than the gaggle of idiots surrounding it, who seemed oblivious of those of us who wanted to get in / out of the isle.
I pause, as a hellspawn no older than six runs in front of my trolley.
Resist the urge to run into the little bastard...just because it would look like an accident, doesn’t mean you could stop your evil cackles of glee and you know it, I say to myself.
IdiotCustyMom#1: Put it dooooown. I said no, hellspawn #1!
Its mother whines, not looking up from the extra small slutty witch costume she holds in one hand.
Please woman, that XS wouldn’t fit your pinky-finger. Put it down and pay attention to your little brats, so I don’t have to! I watch as hellspawn #1 puts it down. It finally registers just what the little darling had been waving around; it’s pulled the stick from one of the Halloween balloons out, leaving a deflated and sorry-looking helium bat crumpled next to a guy-Fawkes dummy [another holiday that none of our local hellspawn seem to understand –sighs-], which its’ sibling, hellspawn #2, a good eight years old or so by the looks of it, is PUNCHING. Straw everywhere. IdiotCustyMom still obsessing over her own chance to wear a freaking belt-length ‘dress’ for the holiday season.
I twitch. Calm down, I think, and just grab your candy. Oooh, they have those mini Cadbury’s chocolate bars in again! Mine mine MIIIIINE!
Avoiding hitting either hellspawn, I make a bee-line for my chosen chocolate. That’s when group of idiots number three catch my attention.
Both blond, fake-tanned, and with the maturity of a semi-ripened squash, they are running across both openings/ exits to the Halloween isle – no more than three feet in front of me.
Well, shit. Just keep your head down, it’ll be fiiiine....What the fuck are they doing, anyway?
You know those spray-cans of coloured paint you can get on various holidays? You know, the ones you use on windows or cars that lasts a couple of weeks? They have decided that these are just SO MUCH FUN! What are they doing? Having a spray-paint fight. In the middle of Big T. Less than 5 feet from unattended hellspawn#1 and #2 [as IdiotCustyMom is now on her phone, completely oblivious to the rest of the world] and less than 3 feet from me, and a fellow well-behaved Custy in her sixties.
These two geniuses are using green and pink spray paint on each other’s hair, faces, arms, jackets – you name it, they’re aiming for it. It’s already all over the floor, two displays, and a handful of dvds. The fuck, people!
I look behind me – the first group of cooing custys are still there, blocking the left lane. Good Custy? Now blocking the right, her trolley sideways, ignoring the rather weary-looking retail slave who is trying to edge his way past her with a full box of novelty lanterns. I have no choice – it’s onwards, or remain stuck there, with the rising possibility that I may start screaming obscenities at these wonderful potential candidates for the Darwin award.
I make it to the soda corner with the ususal troubles [all of the good-offer pancake mix is gone, no fewer than 3 pushchairs have bumped in to me or forced me to go the long way around, as they cannot seem to budge over a freaking inch to let me past, my eardrums now bleeding from various screaming and shouting hellspawn running rampant around uncaring parents and equally weary-looking custys and slaves alike].
I watch as a hellspawn goes up to one of the young slaves stocking the energy drinks; he can’t be older than sixteen [the retail slave], while the kid looks around eight or ten. It would seem that hellspawn can’t reach a pack of six soda that’s pushed right back on one of the upper-shelves; he points, and pulls on the slave’s pocket to get his attention.
Silly slave; smiling at the hellspawn, grabs the sixpack for it. He can’t have been working in retail for long! He hasn’t yet learned to fear those who have yet to grow beyond midriff-height.
Pack of six cans in hand, what does the little darning to?
He throws it at retail slave’s foot. Not drop – throw. Lemonade begins to leak across the floor, as the little shit runs out of the soda-corner, making it way back to the care and attention of the she-devil who spawned it.
Wincing in sympathy, I grab a couple of the Big T brand energy drinks – my Stepdad’s addicted to the things – and make my way to the checkouts. None of the isles are particularly busy, so I just join the nearest queue.
Cheerfully, TillSlave begins ringing me up, only to discover that the energy drinks don’t have any barcodes. No big deal, right? TillSlave apologises, and puts on the red light above her till, to get someone to come down and grab a barcode for her. I offer to go and grab another can, but by this point, there is a queue of around 3-4 people with trolleys full of shopping behind me, and no easy way back past the tills in to the store, so TillSlave asks me to just wait at the end of her area, while she starts ringing through the next person.
Three customers later, around ten-fifteen minutes, I ask again – are you sure you don’t want me to just grab another can? Really, it’s no trouble! Translation: I just want to go HOME!
Tillslave: No, really, it’ll just be another minute or two.
Both myself and TillSlave watch as no fewer than FIVE team-leader or manager-position members of staff walk past, look at the light, and keep on walking.
By the time it hits fifteen minutes, I’ve had enough. I manage to squeeze my trolley past the final remaining customer in TillSlave’s queue, intent on leaving my stuff there while I just grab the damn barcode myself. Finally, one of the runners comes over, asks what TillSlave wants, and goes to get the barcode.
As I FINALLY pay for my shopping and shuffle as fast as I can past the obstacle course of lurking Custys and abandoned trolleys to make it to the exit, I really start to contemplate the crap Big T slaves have to put up with.
Custy’s who think that blocking isles to chat is the best use of their day.
Parents who don’t give a damn about what their hellspawn are doing – or who they’re doing it to.
Hellspawn who wilfully destroy stock and make attacks on retail Slaves that any adult would be prosecuted for.
Idiot Custy’s who use stock in dangerous ways before dumping it – unsellable, surrounded by a mess that some poor slave will have to clear up later.
And stressed out Custy’s and fellow-slaves who’s sympathy wears thin as the slave’s co-workers and their fellow Custy’s make the whole experience even worse.
So yea; things may be pretty shitty at the Un-CoOperative, but you guys in the big retail stores put up with entire levels of crap we can’t always imagine. Yes, you may be paid more for it. Yes, you may be allowed to sit-down without the threat of being fired. But you guys seem to attract a whole new level of crazy that us small stores are lucky to avoid [for the most part, anyway].
So, I salute you, retail slaves of Big T; you deal with more crap than we realize.