mince and the great banana war

Here’s the next instalment of Checkout Chick. Click the link above to read the full story so far.



So I lasted one day. Turns out the reason most people go into work during leave is to gloat. Ha, ha, look at me, I don’t have to put up with any of this crap.

Half the staff saw me enter, obviously not for shopping purposes and decided it was smoko time. We all went out and took over the tables outside the deli.

Turns out am very lucky am not working this week. Poor Ralph, hands were shaking with rage – could barely light cigarette. I wasn’t aware what had happened because Today Tonight and A Current Affair have been banned from the household. ‘Is not current affairs!’ Is what Paddy often yells at the screen before changing it over. Ralph and various other members of the staff watch because ‘it’s important to know what the enemy is doing.’

There’s always some story or the other about the big supermarket chains. It’s either us or the petrol companies but seeing as though we’re buying out a lot of petrol stations we still get mentioned in the story. The last story was about how the two major supermarkets price fix to stamp out small business. Had a good chuckle about that one with staff from competition supermarket came over to check what price we were selling bananas for. Was after great banana war. Everyone (bar the fruit and veg shop that almost went under because of it) remembers it fondly.

Affected the whole town, the banana war. We weren’t directly affected because the only other shops in our complex are the deli, a newsagent (which am told by the grocery boys has pitiful supply of porn mags) and a hairdresser. We stayed out of it as best we could but the whole thing became so huge that many of us took off down the street to watch it unfold with our own eyes.

What happened, or so the story goes, is that the fruit and veg store next to our competitor got massive delivery of bananas at very reasonable price. This is after Queensland flooding when banana prices had just begun to come down after record highs of fifteen dollars a kilo. Was ridiculous. Strange thing is, only ever had real craving for bananas when they became financially unattainable. You don’t really care if your banana has a bruise on it when their at regular price but when you’ve had to mortgage your house just to buy a bunch it kind of pisses you off.

At this point bananas were selling for $5.99 per kilo. Good price for current climate. Fruit and veg store gets surplus stock and puts price at $4.99. Being in the same complex meant that our competitors had to match the price. Fruit and veg owner, tired of having prices beaten by supermarket chain with immense buying power thought, fUck you, ya bastards. Brought his prices down again.

Might I add that all of these events happened on one single day.

Fruit and veg owner got the supermarket down to $2.99. Ridiculous! Trouble was, supermarket running out of stock. Fast. Rang suppliers, trying to get bananas. Didn’t know fruit and veg place was having same problem. Didn’t know that both were playing same dirty tricks as the other – ie, going and purchasing bananas from one another’s store and re-selling the bananas. Supermarket managed to convince other stores in area to hair their bananas deivered to them. Prices got down to 99c a kilo. When news came in that this happened – by way of one of our regulars walking into store and screaming it at the top of his lungs – our store emptied. Mel decided price too good to be true and went to buy some herself but was forced to take orders from us staff who had to stay and work. Vince from fruit and veg realised that price was cheaper than wholesale price so he took Marco to buy stock for our store.

Town was awash with bananas. No one could allow such cheap prices to pass them by. Every bakery in town sold banana cake for the next week. Cafes had banana-orientated deserts. Delis and sandwich shops sold banana milk shakes this time with real banana, not just flavouring and Sunday Paddy came back from Church to announce that almost every product sold at the old lady cake stall had banana in it. We ate many deep friend bananas. Was madness. Really. And all because large supermarket chain couldn’t be beaten by small mum and dad store. Our competitors made a killing. Unlike fruit and veg people, they had other goods to sell. When popping into supermarket for insanely cheap bananas, might as well buy a few other bits and pieces while there.

Banana day was best we ever had – hardly any customers.

Anyway, was in middle of story about today, wasn’t I? Yes. So either Today Tonight or A Current Affair, or maybe even both of them (because even after frequent stories on supermarket price matching both current affair shows often have similar stories on same night. Like was planned or something) featured a story about big supermarkets treating mince meat with some kind of chemical that made meat appear redder than actually was.

Had proper butcher from old-fashioned butcher store give demonstration of what mince meat looks like in proper form. He was wearing white doctors coat, hairnet and hand rounded, friendly face so viewers would find him trustworthy (so said Ralph who also wears white coat and hair net but whose face is definitely not rounded by rather pointy. Perhaps he’s prejudiced against round-faced people). The expert butcher was not allowed to state the name of his shop but ‘they snuck it in,’ Ralph said. During wide-angled shots of the display cabinet. Ralph claims was a set-up because all customers were smiling and butchers behind counter (1) didn’t have any blood on their whites and (2) weren’t rolling eyes with impatience.

Because of story Ralph had been called out (‘seven!’) times so far to speak with customers (usually elderly) demanding to know whether meat included this additive.

‘Of course it bloody does,’ Ralph told all of us, when asked point blank. ‘No one wants to buy brown mince. Want it bright red, don’t they? Doesn’t happen naturally. Wouldn’t buy the stuff if was brown. Asked each and every one of those customers and they all said no. Doesn’t mean meat is off. Doesn’t mean will kill ’em. Not in small doses, anyways. Just looks prettier, dunnit?’

Think that Ralph’s annoyance is more to do with his increased people-contact. Ten thirty and seven customers already. Usually if customer requires specific cut of meat or what have you he can simply grunt and nod his way through transaction. Today was actually forced into conversation.





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Filed under Checkout Chick, Fiction

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