Trolley Life

Bob did not have my sympathy because he clearly believed himself to be the leader of the free world and not a supermarket cashier at all. The first thing he did was re-arrange my groceries.
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Indy Lifestyle Online
I was sitting on a train last week, trying not to mind my own business, when it became clear the couple opposite might be from another planet. The key clue was his hairdo. Toupee? Wig? It was certainly brown - in fact it looked suspiciously like mahogany wood stain from B&Q - and flipped into a curlicue above his ears. Perhaps he had actually drawn on his own hair and was secretly a cartoon character? I was pondering this when his partner said something riveting. "Did I tell you I applied for a job? Mystery shopper. It's when shops hire you to go and pretend to be a customer to help assess service. I said to myself, I can do that!" Perhaps not, I thought, since the entire carriage now knew of her secret mission but I was grateful because she had given me an idea about Bob.

Bob was my supermarket cashier last week. Now it cannot be easy being on the trolley front-line and normally cashiers have my sympathy. I smile at those who are addicted to meaningless chitchat. I sympathise as life grinds to a halt for missing bar codes. I discuss in rational tones the various reasons as to why a juice carton is dripping all over the place.

But Bob did not have my sympathy because he clearly believed himself to be the leader of the free world and not a supermarket cashier at all. The first thing he did was re-arrange my groceries.

Now there is a vague system to the way I load my trolley and this corresponds to how I want to pack them. Bob had other ideas. He held certain things back and brought others forward. Then he gathered all the drink together. What had seemed a reasonable number of bottles strewn out now looked embarrassingly in excess of government guidelines. I looked at Bob in horror. "I'm too young. I'll need a supervisor to put this lot through," he said. He must be lying: he looked 25 and was acting 65.

That was only the beginning. Bob didn't know any of the prices. More blinking lights called more staff who were then ordered to go forth and multiply. Bob didn't do double-bagging and the ice-cream went bare into the bag. Finally he called the supervisor again because he didn't like the look of my signature. I glared over my badly packed, leaking and clanking bags and pointed out that someone whose loyalty card entitled them to 11 vouchers was unlikely to be an impostor. "Just doing my job," he said smugly.

Now, sitting on the train with my cartoon couple, I was fantasising about secretly shopping Bob. On my mystery shopper card I would write: "This is the supermarket cashier from hell." I'm sure Bob wouldn't mind. He's obviously management material.

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