They’re a Lidl bit of Everything…
Not so long ago when I was a student, I had a part-time job in a supermarket. I can’t say I loved it, I can’t say I found the uniform particularly flattering either, or the fact that our names were publicly emblazoned on badges like we were every man and his dog’s property/contestants in some freaky game show. Still, I am Miss Pollyanna after all, so I’ll just be grateful that those hours helped get me through University and funded many, many, many a holiday!
Over the years (during my more uninspired moments) I devised a list of the 5 types of supermarket customer. Do you fit into one of these categories? Or are you in a class all of your own?
Maybe you work in a supermarket right now and can think of another breed of customer altogether; one I have totally forgotten about!
1) The Put You in Your Placers
Let’s start off with the charmers. Oh, what a bunch. If you have worked in a shop/service of any kind, you’ll know the group I am referring to. These are the Dear Ones who revel in feeling better about their own state of affairs by putting you down. Don’t dream of chatting with your colleague who’s on bag packing whilst you simultaneously scan their groceries – even if it is about something worthy and non-gossipy like your A-Levels. And don’t you even dare converse with the tourists buying West Country scones in French! This might cost you a scolding from your Supervisor when the green-eyed customer behind Pierre et Jocelyne announces to Her Ladyship that you were ‘showing off’. Then we have the case of the Double Trouble Put You in Your Placers who arrive in unison at your conveyor belt, their trollies like 4x4s cutting one another up on the M5.
Each is asking you to take their side as to who has the right to unpack their food first. Whoever you choose, the other is going to lash out at their rival for sure, but oh boy, are you going to get it in the neck for being ‘crap’ at your job and ‘unobservant’ as to who got to you first. Not to be outdone though by the how-dare-you-scan-my-food-so-fast clan. Ha, one of those got banned from my store. And finally, of course, we have your former teachers. The local men and women of the Academic Cloth who sneer at you from two checkouts away since you have clearly jacked in your A-Levels already and resorted to a life of the minimum wage.
2) The Chatters
By far my favourite group. These are the regulars, the storytellers, the dears – young, middle-aged and old. They genuinely care. “Have they let you off for your tea break yet, dear?” They smile at you, share a laugh or two with you. They look you in the eye because you are also a human being, they bid you good afternoon and they mean it. Call me sentimental but I bless my Chatters for having made my shifts scanning everything from asparagus bundles to zabaglioni a la supermarket’s own brand just that little bit perkier.
3) The Ignorants
“Good Morning,” you greet them. But you’ll be lucky if you get a grunt. In the end you make it your mission to get a word out of them, you enjoy making them visibly squirm. They’ll do anything to avert their gaze. They’re all seized up. No signs of vital life except for the snatching of the cheap deodorant and bottle of plonk for the weekend.
4) The Ditherers
Actually, I really loved my Ditherers. Ditherers help you stay in The Now (excluding the times when you bloody need a loo break or have a fun evening at the pub to get to and they are now making you half an hour late by offering up ‘oddses’ which they keep dropping on the floor). And it’s an even more wonderful thing when you get a Ditherer in front of an Ignorant or a Put You in Your Placer. In zero to five you can literally perceive the patience erasing itself from the second-in-line-to-being-served’s face. In five to ten they are gritting their teeth like a dog in a cartoon.
5) The Shower Uppers
Aka Family and Friends. Nuff said. The Shower Uppers just love to shout over to you as they venture up the next aisle so that all and sundry can hear. “Hiya Pollyanna! How’s things with the new man then?”, followed by “Oh Pollyanna, I forgot to tell you that Auntie Gina has haemarroids… Yeah, she can’t sit comfortably for too long at all, bless her.” They also know that under store rules, they really shouldn’t come onto your checkout in case you spontaneously decide to not scan their items… But they do it anyway. Now the Dragon – I mean Supervisor – has got her clipboard and pen out and you just know she’s going to make you hang on behind to clean tills 1-24.
Two hours and a docked pay slip later, you make it to the pub only to find your friends have now moved onto the club. The pervy barman grins as if he’s the cat that got the cream… and time for a sharp exit.
Ah, those good old days on the checkout. How I have appreciated all of my work places since!