Supermarket Chronicles Volume 1,
Chapter 9: Santa’s Turkey Snow
[I should probably mention that this little festive tale came about with the help of Becky White, who masterminded the whole random events of this week… but they really happened :p obviously…]
If someone had told me that I would have a Christmas buildup that included snow; turkeys; lethal chritams hats and a conflict between fake santas, I would probably have laughed and said – that is going to be one heck of a challenge. Funny thing is that in actual fact the build up to Christmas featured those exact things (and plenty more I might add). To be honest i had a pretty open mind as to the first week of December. You see the last few weeks had seen events that had climaxed at the store being without boilers and the staff having to wear pink woolly hats. Well i had to anyway since there wasn’t any masculine colors left. With that in mind I sat opposite the manager at his desk., i didn’t feel like i was in any immediate danger or even trouble but i did get the impression he was a tad stressed. I could kind of see why but then again at the same time, outside there was the thickest, most fantastic layer of snow that had ever fallen – ever. How could anyone be upset?
“It’s Christmas in a few weeks, Stephen, how on earth are we going to meet the expected budget if more than half the customers that are turning up to the store are turning around and leaving coz it’s so cold!” The manager sighed. I shrugged. “Don’t take that attitude. Its your fault we’re in this mess, boy. Don’t you even think about leaving me stranded here.”
The prospect of walking out of the store for good did seem somewhat appealing but at the same time I figured I did sort of owe him a bit of help based on the fact that I was the one who thrust the wrench into the boiler in the first place – but in my defense it was a necessary action. The greater good and all that kind of jazz.
I think that it was my daydreaming in the heat of the argument that caused the manager to slam his fists on the desk once again. Unfortunately for him this time it had consequences. His Christmas ornamental show globe with a model of Justin King (the owner of the Sainsbury’s Company) inside bounced, skipped and jumped off the table to join the paperwork scattered across the floor. Water, tiny snow capsules and smashed pieces of the chief executive spread across the floor. It was so cold that the water soon froze and in the panic of loosing his favorite decoration forever, the manager slipped and hit his head on the table. As priceless as this was I suddenly came to the best idea of the century. At that exact moment a beam of light came through the clouds and the window in the managers office and landed neatly on my smile. Things were going to be brilliant after all.
After a little bit of organizing, re-wiring the fire alarms and the constant fighting off of just about all of the management from the store. I began to put the plan into motion.
By the time I had reached the boiler room again, I was dragging three managers along the floor, one on each leg and one around my neck. They were all begging me not to go through with my plan, but as I had so passionately argued for the last three hours…
“It’s freezing cold, we’re loosing customers and I have a solution. Unless you have one stop gnawing your fingernails, it’ll be ok.” And in reality the boiler man said that it would be fixed within the next two weeks anyway. It was a temporary solution to an immediate problem.
i pulled out my walkie-talkie and radioed Craig who was on the customer service desk ready to implement his part of the plan. I cleared my throat. “Operation Santa Commence.”
Craig immediately picked up the voice machine thing that makes the intercom work;
“Ladies and Gentleman. Tis’ nearly Christmas and we thought that we would add to the festive spirit. Please do not be alarmed at the events that follow and feel free to pick up your free hats and gloves from the clothing section. Thankyou. And Merry Christmas.” And on the words Merry Christmas I smashed the master fire alarm. The master fire alarm skips just about every other fire alarm and goes straight into the bit where it stops the fire. It calls the fire brigade first, but i had disabled that. Then it sends i really load beaping to get people out of the building, I had also disabled that. Then it did what I wanted it to do. turn on the sprinklers. But oh no! Not in the cold, I hear you cry! Oh yes – you see what happens to rain when it’s below freezing outside? The same applies inside. We had our very own Christmas Shopping experience. It was snowing. Inside. “Welcome to Christmas Sainsburys.” I smiled as i turned around to the other managers I’d dragged to the boiler room. They weren’t too happy. I was happy. I’d done my job.
Anyway. I started to get back to work on produce. Those brussel sprouts weren’t going to sell themselves. Working on produce was fun, I admit. But for other departments this time of year was the worst – especially for the meat section. You see due to the expiry dates on turkeys, they didn’t come in until the end of December, Week 1. And we had only just started week 1. So the customers moaned and moaned and moaned because they couldn’t buy their precious turkeys unless they wanted them to go out of date before Christmas. So obviously Sainsbury’s did everything in thier power to get hold of turkeys that had a longer life expectancy. Either way there was a rumour that somehow they had found a supplier that had just that. There was a buzz amongst the customers. Not only was it snowing inside to make it Christmassy, but they were also going to get their turkeys early.
Annoyingly the customers had about the patience of a stegosaurus and would ask about the turkeys every five minutes. Before long I was imagining the customers as walking turkeys. i had to shake it off coz yet another customer had asked and she looked kinda snobby so I figured I should check out the back in case she went roast dinner on me. i got through all the snow and out the back just in time for Andy, our back door guy to be offloading the cases of turkeys from the van. They looked strange, we had never had turkeys in wooden cases before. He quickly shifted one over for me for the customer. The crate was EXTREMELY heavy. We managed to prise it open out the back only to be greeted by a turkey’s head, neck, body and feet. Living and everything.
“Please tell me you didn’t order too many of these..” I sighed. Andy turned around to point at the forklift truck offloading the last crate. I breathed a sigh of relief only to see where it put the crate down. Outside there was literally 20 or 30 crates of turkeys. It wasn’t my problem, but Andy had a long day ahead of him – i had to get back to miss snobberish to let her know she could have her turkey but it may need a little longer in the oven than normal. I got out in the blizzard of the shop floor to tell the customer only to get smacked me around the face. Clearly the words,
“We’re just catching them for you madam.” didn’t appeal to her. Fortunately the snow coated my fall but I was out like a Christmas fairy light.
I woke up in the staff canteen several hours later, noticing it was dark outside. The manager came racing up to me.
“The customer’s love it! We are getting more customer’s now then we have in months!”
He went on for a bit about how they had worked out a system for turning it on and off every so often to ensure the aisles don’t get too wet and slippy. I shook my head to wake myself up. I then stretched my jaw to check it still worked, snobs clearly work out coz that seriously hurt! Aching jaw aside, I was about to celebrate about the snow’s success until mr manager (the angel) decided to hand me something I hadn’t seen in at least a year.
“Thought I’d give you an easy job for the rest of your shift.” He handed me a Santa suit.
LETHAL CHRISTMAS HATS
Its not like I wanted to be Santa, but obviously it was my responsibility to dress up like an old man and shove pillows up my shirt to put on about 12 extra stone in five minutes. I stood myself right by the front door to welcome the festive turkeys… customers i mean. To be fair the Santa suit did have one extremely good advantage, I was as sizzling like a Christmas pud under the 50 layers I had on. This worked well to provide me with a rosy red cheeks that every Santa has. All I had to do was wish the customers a Merry Christmas, not too difficult – except for the fact that my jaw was still sore so I ended up wishing them a “berry dishmas…” whatever that is. I’m pretty sure it was a product we sold down the oriental aisle, but i couldn’t be sure.
Things were going swimmingly, that is if you don’t include the free-roaming turkeys, snow storm INSIDE and by the looks of things outside too. But things took a turn for the worse when someone from customer services called me over to the desk to take a telephone call. As I waddled over to the desk with my extremely warm red top and unevenly chilly trousers that didn’t help the waddling considering i couldn’t feel my legs. As it took took phone call my eyes widened. It was from the guy who was running GM (General Merchandising) for the evening. He had to take the santa hat I had on, off me. He explained that they had been sprayed with toxic chemicals at the factory and it they got into contact with liquids that had been frozen they become… unstable… No sooner had i asked how unstable did I head an explosion over the other side of the store.
FAKE SANTAS CONFLICT
On my way to carefully transporting the exploding hat to the office out the back (which for some reason still had central heating….) I noticed something. A customer. Dressed as Santa queuing for at the tills. I thought that the only thing that he didn’t have was a Santa hat, until I looked in his basket. Sure enough, a Santa had – complete with tag. He was buying it from the store. I put two and two together to realize that as soon as he left the store and that hat got the littlest bit cold and wet. It would be snowing Father Christmas. Literally. I quickly ran to the other Santa’s aid. Unfortunately for me he had just handed the money over and he didn’t like the idea of me taking his hat. He grabbed my by the neck and threw me back, while making a run for the door. I couldn’t let him leave! i found a trolley nearby and shunted it as hard and as fast as I could towards Santa 2 and sent him flying (well rolling). The hat flew into the air almost in slow motion and I ran to catch it. Unfortunately I tripped on one of the turkeys that had somehow found its way to the tills and fell to the ground. I was hardly able to the stop my own hat from touching the now-covered floor – so i couldn’t catch Santa 2’s hat. I still spun in the air, this time looking far more deadly to me. Then out of the blue, Santa 2 flew past me on the trolley i had thrown at him just moments before. I caught the hat and zoomed back down one of the aisles. I jumped up and grabbed a nearby giant sign that was hanging up. I folded it whilst running towards the speeding trolley and jumped onto the card sign. I had myself my very own snowboard. Sainsbury’s floors are slippy at the best of times but ice and snow had made this far easier. I whizzed down the aisle and caught up easily with Santa 2. Then I noticed something, one of the wheels had fallen off his trolly and he was going to tip. Once again a turkey stepped out in front of the crashing trolley and Santa 2 flew forward. I leaped to his aid but his hat slipped from his grasp. While us Santa’s were entangled in the air and the turkey was embracing the trolley the hat silently landed just outside a power generator for the deli counters. i back to see it land on an empty box. There was no snow in the box. Everything was silent since there was a dead turkey (which I am 90% sure the snob was eyeing up) and two santas (which appeared to be hugging) on the floor. The manager just happened to step out at that exact moment.
“Just as I was beginning to see you as an asset.” He pulled me over to one side and explained that something else was happening. The area manager was coming and was after my blood since I had caused such riots in all the other stores. Our manager explained that Julie (that was the area manager’s name) was arriving any minute and that I needed to get out now and he’d sort it out. but it was too late. The call-out for my name echoed across the store. My worrying about the manager made me completely forget the hat. At that exact moment the sprinklers came on and it started snowing. The manager looked at his watch and smiled “Ah Eight O Clock.” i smiled then realized about the hat and turned around to see it smoking. I rugby tackled the manager out of the way and slid under a shelve just in time. The hat exploded. It wasn’t just that thought, you see, the fact that it was by a power generator had made things worse. Everything went black. Pitch Black.
To be continued…