Sunday, 6 May 2007


There is a phrase 'What goes around comes around'.

It was pertinent to my experience in Sainsbury today, albeit there's been a bit of timewarp somewhere along the way.

My trip to Sainsbury today was a so called top up shop. It's termed that by the supermarket marketeers. Customers are expected to do the main weekly shop and then do top ups in between times.

Yesterday I did the main weekly shop. Today I did the first top up shop which was actually a 'buying the things I forgot to buy yesterday' shop. Actually today's bill was greater than yesterday's which says not a lot for my memory. I'd like to say I was just buying all the stuff that Sainsbury had failed to stock yesterday. But that would be a big fat lie.

So at the checkout I'm 'doing my bit' by reusing carrier bags, and when the polite checkout assistant asks if I'd like help with my packing, I decline, politely. And that's where the fun begins, and where I also get my comuppance.

I set myself a challenge to pack the bags at least as quickly as the cashier send items down the conveyor belt. I'm sure of any of you do this then you'll the kind of things to do to make this more achieveable.

Firstly you have to place things on the pre-cashier conveyor belt in groups of things you want to pack together. Every now and again it helps to intersperse the items with some fruit or beg that need weighing or increased handling or processing time, just to stem the flow a little. This is something that's difficult for me as most of our fruit and veg comes from the local farm shop.

Anyway this game is a lot harder for the customer than it used to be because cashiers process items much more quickly with barcodes than they used to in the good old days when items were marked with a price label.

And this is where comuppance comes into it.

Years ago, when I was 16 (so that's a fair few years ago), I worked on the checkout in a shop (Share drugstores) that was the precursor of Superdrug. All modesty aside, I was good at my job. There were some things that I always did.

I always treated children like they were very important customers. I always called them Sir or Madam and talked directly to them, rather than their parents. I was very polite and always offered to pack the customer's bags. But if the customer said they didn't want help then I took that as a challenge. I tried to pile up the shopping for them to pack as quickly as I possibly could. My aim was to beat the customer, ring all of the shopping into the till and then help the customer with the mountain of shopping that had accumulated.

And I was good. I was quick, the quickest checkout girl in Newton Abbot.

And today it occured to me that the young man handling my shopping might very well be playing the game 'Beat the customer' in the same way that I did.


northernlight said...

I hope you beat him. He probably keeps a tally at the side of his till.

Ann said...

I cheated with a price check near the end, but the point is, I won!

Sandra said...

Omg !!! Glad I'm not the only one. I played the same game this morning!
You have to realize here in holland, supermarkets are no where near like in the UK.
The bar code thing is helpful I have found, because it makes a beeping sound and so you instantly know if you are ahead of the game!
Anything to make a dull day better!!!!