Supermarket Chronicles Volume 1,
Chapter 8: Turning Down The Heat
November 12th. 1300 hours.
Sainsbury’s Lyons Farm, Worthing
The car park flowed with tomato juice, broken folders and half destroyed cars. It had been three hours since the riot had started and many had been injured. It was the staff verses the managers. There was no denying there was an issue at Lyons Farm Sainsbury’s. The worst thing was that it was a strike that emanated from the events at our store. You see word had spread from our store that someone had overcome the evil that was the managers. Unfortunately the story got more graphic and detailed to the point that the staff decided they wanted to take action.
November 12th, 1700 hours.
Sainsbury’s West Hove, Home
“Sprouting beans?” I questioned the most annoying customer i’d had to deal ever.
“Yes. Beans which you can sprout.”
“You don’t mean Beansprouts?”
“No. Definitely sprouting beans.”
“Sorry, I have never heard of them.” I said as she looked around in disgust. As she turned around, my jaw dropped and i raised my hands in disbelief. I had been dealing with this customer for about twenty minutes and she still hadn’t got it into her thick skull we didn’t sell ‘beans that sprout’.
“Are you telling me that Asda sells them and Sainsbury’s don’t?”
“YES!!!” I exclaimed, thinking finally she had got the message.
“No. No. No. They must be around here somewhere.” See waddled off.
I was near breaking point and my fists were clenched when the intercom called out my name. Never more so had I been so happy to hear that I had been summoned to the managers office.
The store manager welcomed me into his office. It didn’t bother me particularly since I knew that no matter what he said or did, he couldn’t give me the sack coz of the papers he’d signed just a few weeks ago. He sat me down and offered me a coffee. Really nice of him. But i should have guessed he was after something. He explained over the preceding 30 minutes about the events of Lyons Farm and went on to explain that two colleagues had left our store to join theirs. And in doing so told the story of how the management truly can be controlled by the staff. My unstoppable laughter was put to an end when he explained that although he couldn’t sack me, he would have no problem with demoting me to toilet cleaning rounds until i begged him to give me the sack.
“I don’t see how its my problem though, I mean at the end of the day, our store was fine about it.” I sat back in my chair, content with my little speech.
“No Stephen. It is our problem. tomorrow’s breakfast news will be showing the events of Lyons Farm. People from every store in the country will see it and no doubt take note on how to protest. The aim of the colleagues at Lyons Farm is to start riots in all stores across the country. You started this – and I know you can’t protect the other stores, but I will not help you or back you up when this gets huge unless you stop the riots from ruining this store. The big boss’s will be after you when they trace it back here. And you will definitely want me on your side. Its nearly Christmas. I can’t afford a riot. I can’t afford to loose custom.” It was his turn to sit back in content of his speech.
I couldn’t believe that he had put this on me less than 24 hours from the time I needed a solution. My entire evening shift was dedicated to formulating a plan. On my journey home from my shift and my overnight sleep, I was obsessing. There had to be an answer. A way of preventing a riot. A revolution.
November 13th, 0900 hours.
Sainsbury’s West Hove, Home
The news broadcast aired at 0730 in the morning. The riots started at 0800. I arrived at 0830. The damage was already severe. The staff were striking and throwing all kinds of products at the mangers, who had taken control of the West side of the car park. The weren’t about to let this happen so they retaliated with equal levels of force. I parked just far enough away that my car would be safe from either side but then I had to fight my way through the masses in the hope of making it to the store. I had to fight my way through several disturbances. I had nearly made it to the door when a manager rugby tackled me to the floor. There was no way I was going to make it to the store unharmed at this rate. I looked up and there was a pack of beetroot just to my right. I acted injured and reached for it. Once i had it in my hand a scrunched it up so much that it burst and i pulled it to my neck. The juice ran down my body and gave a perfect illusion of blood. I acted limp and made my way through the front doors of the store. I sat down under a till and nearly cried. But i couldn’t feel anything, my feet and hands were too cold. A got up and stood under the hot-air duct. Thats when I had the brain wave. I started to walk towards the back of the store. Then I started to run. Once there I burst into the boiler room and lifted a wrench from the wall. Not being a plumber, I didn’t know the technical way to stop a boiler from working. So i did what anyone would do. Slammed wrench into everything and anything that had pipes sticking out of it. The boiler hissed. The boiler hummed. The boiler exploded.
You see now all I needed to do was convince the manager to yell at the raging war outside. I ran to the managers office to find the manager balling his eyes out in his office. I threw a bit of paper at him. Read this. Out there.
“People. People. Staff. Managers. Everyone. Listen.
Please we have an emergency situation. The store’s boiler has exploded. We need to pull together and make this work. Otherwise we won’t get customers and then we won’t get enough to pay you this month. To help you out and show we are serious we want to make this work, you can grab any clothing….”
The manager looked at me with an evil gaze and shook his head.
“Read it.” I instructed with authority.
“…any clothing to make sure you are working in warmth…”
It seemed to work. People got up off the floor (and admittedly some of them had to be rushed to A and E, but those who didn’t seemed up for making this work). They filed into the store. Got winter clothing and got back to work. The problem was, the customers were walking into the store and straight out again. It was a situation and a half. And once again I found myself dragged into the managers office. He wasn’t impressed. And he had a guest.
“I fixed the problem!!”
“And created a new one! Stephen, this is our boiler man. He reckons it will take 2 WEEKS to order the parts for the boiler. That’s without even fitting the parts. We have a new problem. If we don’t get customers, we have to close the store. And guess who has to find the solution to this mess. That’s right.”
“You?” I laughed.
“No you.” He slammed his fists on the desk. This was going to be a long two weeks.
To be continued…
(Christmas is coming early this year….)