Here’s the next instalment to Checkout Chick. Click the link above to read it from the beginning.

 

(15) EARLY SHIFT

Am terribly moody. Amy is away this week and she’s the one that normally does the early shift. Haven’t done it for years and know why. Am horrible in the morning.

Worst thing about morning shift is waiting around by back door in freezing cold feeling very much like desperate woman at door of boyfriend she thinks will dump her. You ring bell and dance from side to side (due to cold) and wait until someone (usually Bill, but in this case Tony in Bill’s absence) to let you in. Is almost degrading.

Managed to smoke full cigarette whilst buzzing bell at frequent intervals before Tony let me in. Said, ‘you’re cutting it fine.’ Yes, because have been outside for fifteen minutes waiting for you, ya great lump. Didn’t say this. Tony not Bill. Can say what like to Bill. Bill’s scared of me. Not sure why.

A lot to do when you’re the first one in so need to arrive at least half an hour early. Now only had fifteen minutes and am not very good at moving quickly in early morning.

First things first is to get cigarette cartons. Each night we take these out of kiosk and put them in big safe at back of store. This because desperate drug addicts in town frequently break into supermarkets to steal cigarettes. Big money in cigarettes on black market. Apparently.

Have to unload all cartons into trolley and take to Kiosk to load into cupboards. surprised as Tony already loaded up fags into trolley for me. Quite considerate. No matter how much he fears me, Bill would never do this.

Head down to front end with Tony, popping head into meat room to say morning to all. Meat section a weird one. All are poms. Not one Aussie in whole bunch. But then, suppose is quite like fruit and veg where all are Italian. Supermarket is very multi-cultural place but also quite discriminatory.

Meat room full of raging music, blood and carcasses. Smelt horrible. Always does.

‘Morning all.’

‘Denni! Thought you were allergic to the morning!’ This came from Ralph. Head meat man.

‘Yes, yes, ha, ha, ha.’

Continued down to front end. Tony helped me throw cartons haphazardly onto floor of kiosk to put away later. Note – kiosk no longer referred to as kiosk but ‘customer service.’ Do not call it that. When started, back when floors were cement instead of linoleum, kiosk was own separate little box with own roof and everything. Re-vamp opened it up and did away with seedy back section where many a picture of naked men hung on wall. Acknowledgement of change of name not made by older staff. Will always be kiosk. Probably because we don’t actually offer any customer service.

Tony had to unlock cash drawer and cupboard for me. Green bag with seal contained my float. Took out my till. Tony left me the keys for the registers.

My till. Is cleanest one in store, my till. All us old-timers have our own till drawers. Have had mine since I started. Every now and then a newbie will use my till even though written on back is ‘Denni – Touch and Die!’ Is mine, mine, mine and no one else allowed to touch it. Offending newbies given stern lecture and never offend again. You’ve got to keep them in line.

Sort float into till. Am very particular with money. All little plastic windows must face same way (top right hand corner). Like till to be organised. Was terrible period when currency was moving from paper to plastic. Hated having two varieties of notes in my till. Would often deposit old paper money into pod – little device attached to bottom of register where larger money deposited for safe keeping, hundreds and fifties if you have surplus of them. Would get into trouble with Rosemary for this but didn’t care – would take her wrath over anomalies of currency any time.

Took keys to turn on all registers. Already three people – same offenders as always – at door waiting for opening time. Sad fuckers. Was not even six in the morning. Had they nothing better to do? Vince strolled over from fruit and veg on route to back area for more produce.

‘Would you look at them? Feel like animal in zoo with them lot pressed against the glass staring me down.’

‘Yes,’ nodded head to own entrance. ‘Probably thinking – “can’t he see us? Why’s he not opening the doors?”‘

‘Fuckers,’ Vince said.

‘Yeah, fuckers.’

Is terrible that vast proportion of people that work in customer service actually hate customers.

Hadn’t worked an opening with Tony so didn’t know if he was anything like Bill when it came to opening the store. Bill hates customers that stand outside the door waiting for us to open. Sometimes, if in specially vindictive mood, he let’s six o’clock come and go. By six-o-three the customers start banging on the door and yelling – usually at Vince as he’s the only one visible, working in fruit and veg – to open up. When that doesn’t work they form a kind of alliance. Huddle in a group before sending out one of the member – usually an appeasing little old lady – over to the checkout entrance to do the same. And we all have a little laugh at the poor fuckers before Bill eventually opens the doors at six-oh-five.

Boozer was right. Tony is an arsehole. Back of kiosk is set higher to enable us to see over cigarette shelves to front counter and from there we have a clear view of both entrances. Tony opened main entrance at five fifty-five. Was mutiny. Hadn’t even loaded cigarettes. Hadn’t even set up register at front counter. Saw vince strolling around isle with trolley load of broccoli – he hadn’t even loaded up half of greens yet. Saw Sally in bakery – she hadn’t loaded up most of bread yet. Everyone enraged.

Phone buzzed in kiosk. Was Christina, deli manager. ‘You know the bastard Tony has opened doors already? Haven’t even sliced ham yet. Customer wanting two hundred grams. Is bastard.’

Christina hung up, probably because customer was still waiting for said ham.

Tony came and opened doors at my end. Glanced at cigarette cartons on floor and said, ‘you better get those packed up, Denni.’

Fucker.

 

 

(16)

Is crisis with cigarettes. Four cartons missing of Escort Blue. Fingers pointed at me as am smoker. But then, aren’t we all? Mel reasonable, said to Maria (third in charge, ancient woman. Friends with Rosemary – enough said) that am Marlboro smoker, not Escort Blue. However, as ‘misplacement’ of cigarettes happened between Sunday close and Monday am only culprit. Was my job to unload cigarette cartons from back safe. Ah, yes, but didn’t do. Tony did it for me. Mystery surrounds. But still, don’t like to be accused of anything. When I steal something – normally Fruit Chocs from pick’n’mix – am very open about it. But would never steal cigarettes. Wouldn’t be able to complain loudly and often about the cost of them, would I?

 

(17)

General consensus is that stock take of cigarettes must have been incorrect as another carton missing. Thankfully Monica on early shift, not me and Monica not a smoker.

Very strange, though. Mel did not inform Tony of missing carton this time and told me to keep mouth shut.

Do not like it. Mel had mad glint in her eye. Gets it when about to fire people, which she quite enjoys. (Which is why I can’t understand why she hasn’t yet fired Slow Sarah). Hope she’s not about to fire me. Thought we were friends. And proper friends, not just because she wants to shag my brother (though have sneaky suspicion she already has).

 

(18)

Dorothy in today. Dorothy with us once or twice a month and basically spends all her time pretending to shop while secretly on the lookout for would-be thieves. Marvelous job, really. Do wonder how you’d get into it. Perhaps you have to be un-assuming like Dorothy. Goodness knows why they bother bringing her in, though. Law already on thieves side. They can stuff goodness knows what down their pants right in front of your face and you can’t do a thing until they leave the store. But then you have to catch them, don’t you? But can’t use force on them. Can’t even touch them. They’ll have you for assault. In all time have worked on checkout there’s only ever been one occasion when something happened whilst was there. Once. Dorothy had clocked this guy filling his trousers and alerted Bill and Mark (2IC). They went out fruit and veg entrance to round him when he exited past checkouts. I’d been dispatched to “wash windows” by door and when he exited, me, Maria, Bill and Dorothy rounded on him. Thank goodness he just gave up. According to Bill the paperwork involved wasn’t worth the confectionary the man had been trying to steal. Once, when I wasn’t there, a whole family were stuffing meat down their trousers. Husband, wife and two kids. Meat, I tell you. Ralph threw all of it out once they got caught. Said was no way he was going to sell steaks that had been touching a fat man’s balls.

We have security technique that works very well and has done so for years. If anyone spots suspicious behaviour – most of time kids trying to nick a few Mars Bars – we get on loud speaker and say – ‘code red on isle four!’ We then send someone menacing to walk down isle to “investigate”. Usually Boozer, if he’s about or Dan, his day time counterpart who is on the roids and therefore massive. Scares the kids shitless and they drop everything and run out of store.

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