Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Kiddie Capers No. 1

We employ lots of Kiddies. Some facts about Kiddies worth bearing in mind: they’re cheap, they’re desperate for money, they’re never out of bed before midday but they’re happy to work until ten at night before heading off to the pub.

So we employ lots of Kiddies.

Some of them are rather fine looking. I’m between lust objects at present, though only just. D. swung by in civvies yesterday evening as I was shunting baskets from the check-outs back round to the entrance, he smiled and I did at least remember why he’d been my lust object of a run of at least several weeks.

Some of the kiddies are employed for a specific purpose (to work behind the deli counter, or at the in-house bakery or in the greengrocery) but generally they’re expected to be jacks-of-all-trade, which is to say that they work where they’re required.

This does lend us a certain flexibility, but also significantly contributes to the Kiddies never actually become particularly good at anything. The major factor though is that they’re never trained (or retrained if they’re university students who only work with us for a few weeks over the summer).

This is something that came home to me during a recent graveyard shift. Having spent the day locked away trying to do two whole day’s worth of cashing up in an afternoon – and quite why I was in this predicament will have to be dealt with elsewhere, I quite gratefully bolted for the wide open spaces of the shop floor to spend the last couple of hours ‘code checking’.

‘Code checking’ is date checking. It is done section by section to a schedule laid down from on high that reflects product shelf-life and turnaround. The crisps and snacks section is checked for products within 6 weeks of going ‘out of date’. Any products found are logged in a diary.

I started work at one end of the section while a couple of bright (university student) girls worked at shelf filling at the other end. After a while one of them worked up the courage to ask me what I was doing.

So I explained.

And the reaction I got to my explanation of one of those tedious exercises we have to undertake to ensure that we’re within the law governing retail trade was: “Things have dates?”

Yes, ‘things have dates’, and properly trained shop floor staff would know to check the dates of the things they’re putting on the shelves. Checking to make sure that each item actually has a ‘best before’ date, and checking that the date shown is a future date rather than a past date.

To their credit they did go back and check everything they’d already spent the evening putting out. And they only found a few things that had to be recorded in the diary.


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