Confessions of a Newsagent

Ring! Ring! It's 7:00 A.M.! Move y'self to go again. Cold water in the face. Brings you back to this awful place. The Diary of a Shiftworker.
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I had been told to meet outside the employers store at 11am for my induction. Waterloo Station. The nerves were on me as I arrive 30 mins early and proceeded to walk around the unit 4 times before recognising a young  bloke who was at the interview last week. I then met another lad, a Bangladeshi, who gave his name as Rohul but it could be a made up name as guys from Asia who don’t speak very good English tend to do that.

Then, at the main entrance of the store I caught sight of three ladies with ‘we’re here for the induction’ written all over their fearful faces. However, one of them introduced herself and we followed her into the bowels of Waterloo station as her hijab fluttered in the wind.

Finally, we arrived in a converted railway arch and were subjected to 2 ½ hours of mind numbingly boring but essential health and safety information and lots of paperwork signing which basically covered the asses of the company so they don’t get sued.

The highlight of the session was a line in the staff manual which said, “when faced with a blind customer don’t stroke the guide dog”!!

There was a tap which dripped continuously, when I asked the supervisor can it be turned off the reply was it’s been like that for 2 years. What they can’t get a plumber to put a new washer on the tap with a billion squid a year turnover!!

Make sure you’re at Kings X station by 2pm for your till training was the parting shot of hijab lady.

Till training here we go, one of my adult ambitions about to be fulfilled, working on a really big cool till with lots of bar code swiping. Hello,my name is tall Asian follow me for some till training. Would I get found out as an overqualified fraud just there for the ride?

“Ok, who wants to go first and don’t forget your till point sales." 10 minutes later after selling 3 bars of Cadburys Dairy Milk and a packet of Haribo sweets I’m hooked and tall Indian says "wery well done are you sure you haven’t done this before?" Yes, I’m in.

4.30pm word is spreading that the till training will now become a full shift until 8pm on the bank holiday weekend and the first day of half term. Her In Doors (HID) is more excited than me when I tell her that I’m working a full shift.

8pm buzzing as I catch the bus back home dreaming of my first day working at the PLC. Feet need a good soak and my hands need a good wash.

Bank Holiday 31st May 2010

High noon kick off for me, very nervous which is to be expected in a new job. The Algerian supervisor, escorts me to the unit I will be working in on my first day, en route I ask him how long he’s been there. At the PLC or in the UK he replied.

The Arcade unit as it’s known with bright lights and every square inch taken up with products lots of shiny products. Is there anything they don’t sell? Straight in at the deep end I believe they call it learning on the job. Yeah, I know how to swipe something and press the sub total key but price override and modify item they are out of my comfort zone. It’s complete bedlam a combination of half term and bank holiday is probably the reason or maybe it’s like that all the time. Nice lad for company on the tills, young black boy with an earring in each ear who is obsessed about working for 3 consecutive days. My oh my its true what they say about the microwave generation they really don’t like to work. The kids are away at the outlaws all week  so don’t need to rush home so soak up the atmosphere at the station before catching the bus home.

Yeah, I know how to swipe something and press the sub total key but price override and modify item they are out of my comfort zone.

Tuesday 1st June 2010

Pinch punch first day of the month.

8am start, my first stop is the manager’s office for my official t shirt with the chewing gum endorsement prevalent. Thought to myself don’t be seen with that t shirt on you’ll never live it down. Then the reality of what I’ve got myself into hits home like a Hot Shot Hamish thunderbolt, just keep your head down stay out of trouble and do the best you can and remember don’t forget the till point sales (TPS).Different staff today at the Arcade gonna have to have a great memory for names because none of the names are English apart from the one lad. The staff room is the size of an en suite bathroom in a desirable piece of real estate not for 65 staff working from 5am – 10pm.Don’t let the staff get too comfortable and whatever you do don’t let the staff room be too clean the PLC says.

French queen is pleasant I attempted some broken French on him knowing that keeping the queens on side is always useful in any job. The Algerian is hovering and I know that if I don’t carry out TPS regularly then it’s the boot. Too many void transactions is the boot, incorrect attire is the boot, keeping £20 notes in the till is the boot, leaving more than 3 tenners in the till is the boot, is there anything I can do.

Some of the Eurostar dollies have serious potential is it the uniform or the accent. I don’t care what it is but this job could be just what I need after being a househusband for 18 months.

Wednesday 2nd June 2010.

Another 8am start have realised you don’t get brownie points for arriving early, the PLC doesn’t care about that only, “If you don’t empty your locker after your shift then guess what, yep it’s the boot”

The supervisors make sure that you get your break at the right time but is 30 mins break for an 8 hour shift legal? I must check my rights but somehow I don’t think that will help. French queen is in fine fettle today he’s only criticising half of the workforce today and he’s annoyed with me because i threw away his woollen glove that he uses to pull the stock cages along. Apologise profusely and foolishly tell him I thought it was rubbish. Met a new member of the Arcade team today, overweight Indian bird she has her own hand cream and bottle of mineral water. Blimey she’s taking a risk. She’s doing an MBA in Human Resource Management what a place to learn about that.

I’ve spotted some regular customers and of course they are Eurostar dollies and one brunette in particular with an ample chest is mesmerising. English girls just don’t have the sophistication of these ladies. The Algerian completely lost the plot today and bollocked rasta boy in front of all customers and staff for not wearing the correct shirt. Clearly they don’t teach management skills at the PLC.

Stroll into the staff room to be followed in by Somalian security who garbles something along the lines of, “empty your pockets please”. Excuse me I said who do you think you are talking to you long streak of piss, I was born here you’ve been here 2 minutes and you want to do that. I turned out my pockets and it was witnessed by token English dog and that was that. Somalian loped off with his tail between his legs and I am seething, but remember keep your head down son.

Thursday 3rd June 2010.

Day off

Friday 4th June 2010.

Thinking it could be absolutely mental today last day of half term and very warm what a recipe that is. By now I’m becoming a robot but keep telling myself don’t subscribe to the culture of fear. These staff will do anything to keep their jobs even if they are treated like animals.

The Algerian likes me because I talked up Algeria’s chances in the football and even asked him where he is watching the game next Saturday. Every day there is someone different I work with, the only consistencies are French queen and fat Indian bird. I apologised to Somalian security but it fell on deaf ears. There is this pig ugly woman who works in the station who keeps on waiting for me to serve her, typical the worst looker is the one who likes me. She’s got hands like a carpenter.

There she was again the French brunette with the ample chest striding into the store I went weak at the knees as she purchased a packet of 20 Marlboro Golds. Wendy, the assistant manager seems really friendly but she’s got bags under her eyes like Sandy Gall bladder.

Everyone is scared of the cash office we had to order 2 floats today and apparently you can get the boot for that. The lady from the cash office turned up with the float, I introduced myself and went to shake her hand and apparently that’s very formal!!

It seems busy today but can’t wait to get out of here and see her indoors and the kids.

Clearly they don’t teach management skills at the PLC.

Saturday 5th June 2010 2pm-6pm

After 2 hours coaching 9 year olds how to play football I had foolishly told PLC that I was flexible at weekends so at 2pm on one of the hottest days of the year I arrive for work.

The weekend supervisor Abdul collars me in the bathroom en suite (staff room) and tells me I’m on my own in Le Rendezvous.

Basically, I’m next to the Sheffield platforms and I later find out that I have to put out my own stock. So half way through the shift a huge cage of stock turns up and they say it’s all yours mate.

I spend the next 3 hours running between the counter and the cage and at the same time i bring all the old stock forward just like they taught me at catering college. Stayed 15 minutes late and told them i expect that extra time to be reflected on the wage packet. Abdul laughed nervously as I faced the culture of fear head on. An uneventful day.

Monday 7th June 2010.8am-4pm

Felt cream crackered like most of the customers looked today. French queen was waiting for me as usual and I met another Somalian today he’s been there 5 years and only works Monday-Thursday 6am-2pm.Him and the queen are the longest serving staff at the PLC and I need to be careful with them. Get your head down son. Long serving Somalian is just completing accountancy exams and he has ambition, I respect that.

French brunette appears but goes straight to the other till despite my best efforts to finish serving the customer in front of her but she had a big grin on her face, I wonder what she got up to at the weekend!!

Americans are always a laugh you can really push them on the TPS and engage in banter with the girls. I looked up and saw 2 gorgeous American girls standing in front of me but when one of them talked it was really strange she kept on saying “thank yoi” bit of a shame really maybe she was an actress. Ex big Brit Pop bloke turned up with oriental wife and son didn’t want to break his anonymity as his son bought Panini World Cup football stickers.

I was about to finish my shift when a call beckoned me to see Ian, he is the main man according to the staff he can make or break you. He is the general manager of all 4 stores who never says hello to his staff and stays in the office all day but he must be quite good at what he does to be in that position.

At 4pm precisely I ventured into the back of house area and met Ian with a middle aged blonde who didn’t introduce herself. Now there’s a bit of a problem he began, you were angry at being searched by the long streak of piss what’s your problem. I thought that bastard is so insecure he has got brownie points by telling King Ian that I objected to being searched. Anyway, I told Ian how it was for me and there’s no hard feelings. He shook my hand and got my name wrong twice.

As I waited for a 46 bus I made a decision to keep all these colleagues at arms’ length and be very careful who I talk to because they will knife you in the back to keep their £5/hour job.

Tuesday 8th June 2010.8am-4pm.My 37th birthday.

I strode into the Arcade with a spring in my step and a Mohican hairstyle to hide my age.

Experienced Somalian and French queen greeted me and I told them it was my birthday.

Very early on French brunette turned up and we engaged in conversation for the first time and I realised that actually she’s English with a bit of French glamour. I told her it was my birthday and she thought I was 28,”that’s very flattering but I’m 37”I replied.”What are you doing tonight” she said, foolishly I said going home to see the kids. She walked out in shock and that could be that.

The Algerian was subdued today looking tired and unshaven but paid me a compliment by calling me a “player” this means I’m in there with the hierarchy. Good news should be ok from now on. It was quiet today lots of interesting MILF’s and reasonable TPS’s today.

Actor Dave was doing the books again. He’s a 27 year old bloke who wants to be an actor but has worked at PLC for 2 years. Every day I see him I take a genuine interest in his future career and ask him what he’s doing about his acting ambitions and every day he says “I’m working on it”.

Such a shame how people just can’t get themselves together and follow their dreams but I can’t look after everyone. He got flustered today when a woman complained about an International phonecard. She was a fiery Spanish tourist who spoke acceptable English. I suggested how he dealt with it and at one point actor Dave looked like he was going to cry.

4pm finish off home to enjoy what’s left of my birthday.

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