Supermarket Chronicles Volume 1,
Chapter 5: Far From Jingle Bells
I guess there is something thrilling about sitting in the managers office. Especially when you think you are getting a promotion, a raise or simply a pat on the back. Unfortunatly this was none of those things and i knew it. You see, silly as it was there was no denying that for whatever reason the events of the preceeding festive season had finally caught up with me. And they were no ordinary Christmas week and I guess mid-summer is the perfect time to tell that seasonal story of love, warmth, giving and playing santa ‘robin hood’ claus.
21st December 2006 : Produce Department : Sainsburys
It all started a week before christmas, it was cold enough to snow. But that isn’t unusual for Brighton, just as it isn’t unusual for the weather forecast to raise all our hopes of snow to little avail. Anyway, however close the christmas holiday was getting, it didn’t seem to be changing my fellow employees lack of festive spirit. And if there was one thing that I didn’t like, it was people missing out on the Christmas goodness. Walking through the store for my breakfast tea break (which incidently was being taken at 4 in the afternoon, due the workload we were all under), I noticed a fantastic sign. The sign that makes every little employee cry at least one tear : Christmas Bonus. 30 minutes later, a sit down in the canteen with a glass of free water and a smile from the sign meant it was time to head back to work. I couldn’t help but notice the lack of sign, it had clearly been torn down. My festive smile began to drown into a clever plan to unravel to eventually figure out exactly what was going on.
22nd December 2006 : Staff Office : Sainsburys
It doesn’t need a detailed explanation or a step by step guide but not only did I create a clever plan, but I also found myself getting caught in a human resources office (that I was pretty sure never exsisted) later that evening. Not something you want to do. Ever. Maybe the manager was feeling christmassy, or maybe he was just happy he was going to be keeping the bonus to ‘re-invest’ into the store, either way he let me off the hook on the single condition that I spread the joy. Dressed as santa. In the staff canteen. You see I’d walked into the human resources office, but due to the season-to-be-jolly it was more than an office. It was a converted grotto. Why, I wasn’t sure, but I was to soon find out.
I can’t say I don’t admire santa, i mean any guy who can travel the world in a night and still manage to stuff his face at every stop is a guy i want to get to know. But immitating him isn’t something I took a shining to. I think it was because red isn’t my colour. However much I dreaded it, there was no way i could have prepared myself for the grotto-fest that awaited me the following morning.
23rd December 2006 : Santas Sainsburys Grotto : Sainsburys
Ho Ho Ho. I got a throne at the very least, and it was pretty comfortable but that was partly due to the three cushions that the manager had made me shove up my shirt. My bright red sweater shirt. And ironically i was boiling in the middle of winter once again. Still for some unforseen reason, my fellow workers had an actual desire to come and talk to santa ‘stephen’ claus. I think it had something to do with the fact that there was a slushy machine fitted in the room. No matter. It became clear that the festive cheer once found in the employees had been stripped away from them with the removal of the christmas bonus. From what they told me, the money had often been spend. Kids christmas presents, parents christmas presents, boyfriends/girlfriends presents – all of these would have to be sacrificed this christmas thanks to mr manager’s budget cut. The amazing thing was that no-one knew it was me (perhpas they thought I was the real santa, only without the white beard, glasses and fat belly….. although to be fair, for all they knew I did have a big belly, they weren’t to know that I was layered with cushions).
Anyway. None of the stories touched me as much as one. It was from Elisha. She was one of my closest friends, but since she didn’t know it was me – she was able to share that since the christmas bonus was gone, she wouldn’t be able to afford rent this month. Elisha was a great girl, she had a heart of gold and it was no secret that her life so far hadn’t been a smooth running. I felt bad. Not just for her but also for the other employees who thought they would be without bonus’s this month. Luckily I had another plan up my very red sleave. And it had a lot to do with my ever-so small elf helper Mitt. Mitt was another great guy I worked with but he had a couple of carrots short of a crate. But he would serve the plan… he would serve it perfectly. And lets face it when God closes a window, he opens a door….
24th December 2006, Christmas Eve : Produce Department (Amongst the Rabble)
Pay-cheques all-round. Everyone somehow found thier bonuses. Doubled. And Elisha found something else in the pay cheque. A winning kit-kat wrapper for a small house near where she lived. It wasn’t the prefect solution, and it was kind of a shame she didn’t know it was me who opened about 5000 kit kats the night before in the hope of winning – but the smile she gave soon made up for it. After rugby tackling a few customers who were asking why we had run out of brussel sprouts the day before christmas, I finished my shift and started to make my way home. Every employee I passed was smiling eith Christmas joy and standing outside in the christmassy air, looking back to the store, it started to snow. It was the perfect Christmas scene. As I turned back to head home, Elisha ran after me.
“Hey Santa.” Such simple words. She then went on to explain how she knew I was santa and that red suited me. I’m still not convinced. She didn’t know it was me who had achieved all the bonuses or the kit kat house, but she did give me the biggest festive smile ever.
This was the most christmassy christmas ever.
And whatever they say christmas miracles do happen.
Present Day : Managers Office : Sainsburys
“Ok. I think you owe us some money.”
To be continued…
(is this the end of the line?)