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A Mighty Wind

Edinburgh is sometimes known as The Windy City, this website told me so. I also discovered this while ploughing my way to work today. It wasn't a day to be wearing a kilt. Not that I was wearing a kilt, but I was thinking, if only some hunky Scotsman happened along just now, wearing a kilt.

This wind was more powerful than velcro. It rrrrrripped open the velcro flap on my bag and threatened to steal my lunch. I always thought velcro was an all-powerful substance. I remember in the 80s when all the kids in my class had velcro sneakers. Thick, sticky fingers wrapped around their foot like a claw — it seemed to me the greatest innovation since the Old El Paso Taco Kit. And truth be told, I'd always struggled with shoelace-tying. I begged The Mothership for velcro shoes, but she deemed them "sheer bloody laziness".

Tonight the breeze propelled us into Tesco, up and down the aisles, and all the way to the dimwit at the checkout. No matter how carefully Rhi and I choose our Checkout Dudes, we always wind up with the most stoned kid in the shop. We had never witnessed such excruciatingly slow scanning of groceries. He stared up at the ceiling and groped absently at the conveyor belt. It look five minutes to scan five little yogurt pots. He lifted a lettuce, peered at it for a long moment, then let it drift across the scanner. His mind was in the clouds but the body thought it was still in the thick of the gale.

I was filled with an irrational rage. After polite coughing and foot-tapping proved fruitless, I resorted to snatching each item from his hand mid-air and stuff it into the shopping bag.

SHAUNA: Take it up a gear, buddy!

CHECKOUT DUDE: You got a Tesco Club Card?

S: I got a bus to catch.

CD: Mmm.

RHI: They let them sit down, that's where they go wrong.

There's no chairs for checkout kids where I come from. I'm going to round up every space cadet Tesco employee in Britain and take them to WOOLWORTHS BOOT CAMP back in Australia and show them how it's done! Speed! Precision! Chop chop!

CHECKOUT DUDE: Are you collecting coupons for the school kids?

S: I don't give a shit about the school kids!

We almost missed the bus, but luckily the breeze was at our backs.

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About Shauna Reid

Ahoy there! I’m an author, copywriter and old school blogger. I love telling stories about life and helping my clients to tell theirs. Find out more about me and how we can work together.


22 thoughts on “A Mighty Wind

  1. The poor schcool kids! hehe.

    You know whats worse than the checkout kids in supermarkets? The kids that work in petrol garages.

    for some strange reason, that only the bank seems to understand, my card was declined in the garage this morning. Did the kid behind the counter know what to do?? NOOOO!

    Dum and two short planks!

  2. How did he scan a LETTUCE?

    Do they grow them with barcodes on over in the Old Dart?

    Or do they pre-bag them?

    Because I don’t think either option is that crash-hot.

  3. Pre-bag. The bags have slits cut into their sides for ventilation, as if they’ve been slashed by a hungry vegetarian tiger.

  4. Oh, thank God i’m not the only one appalled by sit-down checkout clerks. And I know the stoner clerks well – I’m convinced that there is a stoned, labor-law dodging 10-year-old working at my local ScotMid.

    In Australia, do they bag the groceries for you? That’s one thing I really miss from the States.

  5. It took me so long to grasp the concepts of “cashback” and “cashpoint”; although the Australian “EFTPOS” and “ATM” reveal an unsightly weakness for acronyms really.

    The full horror of the sitting down, non-bagging checkout people had never previously penetrated my dense-o skull.

    Ta, Shauny.

    (And what IS with the pre-wrapped lettuce?)

  6. hehe rory, you’re a classic.

    ghani – they pack in oz, i think (i can’t remember!)… i love here how they just kinda let it roll away. it’s hard, my mum taught me to keep an eagle eye on the checkout chick, lest they scan something twice or whatnot (paranoid woman), but if you do that you get behind in the grocery packing, then it’s time to pay and all your groceries are in a big pile… arrrgh the stress of it…

    paul – it’s sad but it’s true about the lettuce. i really miss groping a lettuce before i buy it. most of all i miss the big container of mixed leaves where you just grab the tongs and pack yer own bag o’ lettuce. if you want mixed leaves here you have to buy them in a package. just like when you buy cucumber, it’s shrink-wrapped.

    but they have green & black’s chocolate here. makes everything better 🙂

  7. They certainly do pack in Oz.

    If they tried to NOT pack, there would be Foster’s-fuelled* riots in the streets, and general widespread public humiliation/torture of the offending shopkeeps.

    (* no-one in Australia drinks Foster’s. Literally no-one. But we do have appearances to maintain. Really, the riots would be VB-fuelled)

  8. It is true that no one drinks Fosters however the rumour has it that Crown (an expensive beer from the same company) is actually Fosters tarted up & with price tag to match.

    Urban myth number 1023 or something.

  9. They pack at the Tescos I go to, which is the one on Nicolson St.

    My mum also refused to let me get velcro shoes when I was little. It was because she thought I needed more shoelace-tying practise, I think.

  10. When I was at Elephant and Castle tube last weekend as is common to such places it was blowing a gale up the stairs where a handsome Scotsman was valiantly trying to hold down his kilt whilst grappling with two enormous backpacks. How can such a sight fail to draw a happy laugh!

  11. I don’t give a shit about the school kids!

    one day, i will use that.

    i hate it when they offer to pack myself, why must they put a pack of croissants in a bag and then a 4 litre bottle of milk on top?!

  12. My mother FINALLY let me have velcro sneakers when I was about 10. She was sick and tired of me tripping over my undone laces (still can only do them up the dumbo easy way – double knotted loops) on the asphalt at school, ripping my knees and tracksuit pants and wasting all that mecuracrome.

    Sitting down is pure laziness. I’d be getting frothier than a junkyard dog if I was confronted with that young cashier, too.

  13. Checkout dude? They have checkout dudes in Scotland? Bah, soft! Remember Canberra, Shaunybear? Canberra! Where supermarket employees, regardless of sex, are “checkout chicks”, and LIKE IT, or else it’s McD’s for you, sonny jim! Or, er, something. I don’t plan to take Ed’s place here, really I don’t.

    What’s cashback/cashpoint, anyway?

    Now, now, Paul, working in a bottleshop and all, I’ve been confronted by one person who wanted to buy Fosters. I tried to talk him out of it, but he would not be dissuaded… there’s also a local legend that somebody, somewhere once bought a single stubby of Fosters’ Light Ice (watered-down Fosters beer watered-down!); needless to say, I don’t believe a word of it.

    (What Meredith said about shoes laziness, too…)

  14. There are some supermarkets in Australia that let them sit down. Aldi, for one. They don’t pack for you, but they’re paid better. I, for one, would take a pay cut in order to be able to sit down. Eight hours on one’s feet is the suck.

  15. Having done my time as a grocery checkout slave I think it’s fantastic that they let them sit down over there! Even working 4 hour shifts after school I would be in so much pain by the time I finally got home after work that I sometimes almost wanted to cut my feet off entirely to make the pain go away. But my grocery store also kept track of how many items/second we all scanned on average so there was always incentive not to be a lazy ass. Ahhhh, the unpleasent memories.

  16. “In Australia, do they bag the groceries for you? That’s one thing I really miss from the States”

    Hmmm . . . when was the last time you were actuall in the States? Because almost all the stores now are self-checkout. That;s right, not only no bagging done for you, but not even a stoned sitting kid to ring you up. You have to do it all yourself. But – as stories like this demonstrate, sometimes I actually like that better.

  17. I cant believe how rude and arrogant all of you people are, but seeing as how some of you are from Australia and the states then i guess rudeness and arrogance are inherited and therefore you arent the ones who should be blamed, it just comes naturally to you guys.
    Regardless of this fact i feel that i need to educate you all in the matter of Tesco employees. Fistly the reason why checkout staff are given chairs is because it is against the law for them not to have a chair and would break the health and safety at work act. Also i have been to Australia and many of the checkout staff there in both Woolworths and Coles also had chairs to sit on. Having been to Australia and witnessed how rude checkout staff are (for example many of them are incapable of reciprocating a simple hello, thankyou or goodbye) it is likely that when you visit our country you treat our staff with the same rudeness that you recieve when dealing with ill-mannered people in your own rude society. Tesco checkout staff are required to say hello, thankyou and goodbye to customers as this level of commen courtesy is expected in our country. However when a customer does not have enough courtesy to acknowledge these gestures the cashier then feels disinclined to work fast hence the slow service rude people like yourselves recieve. I can also tell you that this slow level of service is not delivered to each customer as report sheets showing how many transactions per shift and items per transaction are checked by checkout managers and cashiers who fail to meet targets are given a warning. After the second warning the cashier would either be moved to another department or dismissed. One of you also mentioned the way in which items are scanned. And you said that the assistant picked up the item, looked at it and then and then “let it drift accross the scanner” well until the technology is developed where barcodes on products dont have to be scanned then checkout assistants will have to continue looking for these barcodes.. and then scanning them!
    Finally if you people have nothing better to do than discuss the serivce you recieve in supermarkets then i assume that you like myself are students and have lots of spare time on your hands (if this isn’t the case then you must just be really sad lonely bitter people) but most of the ‘kids’ as you call them who work on checkouts are only working part time while they study too, and working part time in a brain-numbingly boring job can get very tedious and boring as im sure some of you have experienced, so just cut them some slack the next time you wanna rant about them. Or maybe just say hello!

  18. Nicole, you should bear in mind that I was talking about ONE particular checkout guy. Not you or every other Tesco employee in Britain. This one happened to be clearly stoned. I did not get a hello or a goodbye. Also, as with all entries on this blog, it’s not meant to be taken seriously. Of course it would be hard to tell if this is the first entry, but trust me, the dialogue is exagerrated, I’d never swear at a checkout dude! So the entry was not a slight on every Tesco worker in the world!!

    While I cannot speak for any of the commenters, I have worked plenty of these kinda jobs in my life – hell, I’m in one now – so I have plenty of respect for the people who do them and treat them with courtesy.

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