Newsagent State of Mind Part 4

Adjusting to life in the 'big unit', how to deal with the Pakistani Mafia and why you should think hard before smoking menthols.
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Tuesday 13th July 2010. 8am-4pm.

Every weekday morning I always bump into the Algerian completing the newspaper delivery sheets.

Today he greeted me with," we need you to start taking more responsibility within the big unit.”

He explained what that involves and I took it in my stride. Basically, he is either saying this just to soften me up or they're maybe discussing a possible promotion because later in the day I had a similar talk from the slim Indian cricketer.

He was more thorough and walked me around the unit and explained what standards they expect. I have been analysing the amount of supervisors they have and can't see any openings, but you never know at the PLC because it’s a fast changing story.

The cockney scrubber was back from a few days off and was fairly relaxed. She still lives with her parents in her mid 30's but reckons she is about to move out and do a house share with some mates. She’s probably been saying this for years.

I did well in the TPS league tables for yesterday's performance so didn't get a file note. The king wasn't in today which means his assistant was running the show.

I am starting to like the cash office Rottweiler. He has a sense of humour and does actually smile. The Algerian has devised a new name for me, "the English," highly original of course.

The legend is counting down the days until his operation and is milking the sympathy from the staff. He has a pair of sly eyes that reminds me of a bloke at school we used to call "side eye".

He is very selfish and isn't a team player. The legend makes sure that he is organised whether it’s float, the hording of carrier bags, or hiding the fridge temperature reader. He stashes piles of carrier bags in much the same way a small time cocaine dealer would hide his supply. None of the other units within the PLC have any bags but the Legend always has.

His latest theory is that Liverpool will just survive relegation this forthcoming season and Real Madrid have just woken up to the fact that Steven Gerrard is a one trick pony like Frank Lampard. "Gerrard just takes pot-shots from 50 yards and only gets goals via lucky deflections.

Bollywood was next to arrive. Looking immaculate she asked me if I could see an undergarment through her skirt,” I could only notice that if I was a lot closer" I remarked.

He was nil by mouth today because of a blood test scheduled for after work. He made mileage out of that by telling all the customers that his stomach was rumbling when he thinks of the large chocolate bars.

The King's assistant told me there are "plenty of shifts available next week, take your pick."

It definitely feels like there are plans for me at this company. When I started this job I felt like a rapid rise through the ranks was achievable.

The fat controller has now become Mr Klump from the Nutty Professor courtesy of the Legend. He is spitting image of Sherman Klump even down to the quadruple chin.

Bollywood was next to arrive. Looking immaculate and asked me if I could see an undergarment through her skirt,” I could only notice that if I was a lot closer" I remarked.

She giggled like a 15-year-old schoolgirl on a first date. The problem she has at this place is that there are a lot of young single male Asians who chance their arm with her. They leer at her when she walks past them and smile falsely when they talk to her. She is incredibly naive and I gave her some friendly advice about this for which she was grateful. I explained that she is young and attractive and an easy target.

The sweet flat-chested blonde from the clothes shop appeared and gave me a smile but unfortunately went to the Legend's till.

Sherman Klump is just running down the clock until he leaves at the end of the month. Bollywood was given a file note for poor TPS and they used me as an example of how to do it. I never thought I would ever be in a position like this and being used as a positive example of how to sell Haribo and giant Aeros.

Rasta boy's modem is broken so he hasn't viewed the diary yet which is a shame because I wanted some feedback from him. My final act of the day was to make direct amends to the woman I was rude to last week and gave her a pile of buy 1 get 1 half price stickers as a peace offering.

14th July 2010. 8am-4pm

It appears as if I am now a permanent member of the big unit team. It turns over the most dosh and is the trophy unit in the station.

This means that the Legend, the cockney scrubber, Bollywood Princess, Sherman Klump and the slim Indian cricketer are my colleagues.

The Legend had his blood test yesterday and I enquired if it went well. The answer was in the affirmative. I overheard the King speaking on his phone about his wife's pregnancy. He has been out of action for 2 days because his trouble and strife is experiencing complications. I hope she is ok. He was strangely subdued because of his personal issues. The king's assistant has been running the show because the operations manager is on leave as well as Sandy ball bags.

The king's assistant only speaks when necessary and she also has that annoying habit of "can you do me a favour" when asking for assistance. We chatted briefly about Raoul Moat and the copper he shot. She always brings in a packed lunch and I reckon has a really boring empty life and is probably unattached.

The Algerian is milking his new nickname of "The English" and every time he saw me he kept on repeating it and winking at me. I told him I’m proud to be English just like "you're proud to be Algerian".

The cockney scrubber doesn't eat lunch at work but just wastes her money on items like Wet Ones that are £1.45 and these ridiculous girly snacks that cost £1 and can be eaten in 2 mouthfuls.

These supervisors have suddenly become over familiar with me and it could be because the Legend is going in for the operation next week and they need someone to be efficient and organised.

The Legend bought 2 packets of scones from Iceland and that's his lunch for the next couple of weeks. The cockney scrubber doesn't eat lunch at work but just wastes her money on items like Wet Ones that are £1.45 and these ridiculous girly snacks that cost £1 and can be eaten in 2 mouthfuls.

The rise of diabetes amongst older people is worrying and according to the paramedic graduate, Bollywood Princess, is directly linked to obesity. The Legend was diagnosed with diabetes in later life and told me he used to be massively overweight. He was given an ultimatum of "change your lifestyle or die early."
He makes a gurgling sound when laughing and once again was making jokes about not having enough £5 notes.

He forces punters to change their brand of mineral water in order to achieve good TPS. He does this by keeping a stash of Vittell water next to his patch and grabs their Buxton out of their hands and says "you don't want that water have this one its cheaper with the Torygraph".

We joked about being sat on by Sherman Klump and he laughed out loud. Another lie from him was that he used to work 135 hours a week at the major pizza chain.

The slim Indian cricketer was softening me up today "we need someone who knows what they are doing when the Legend goes on leave, and you're the man".

Reading between the lines that means lots more trips to the store and schlepping heavy cages. I’ve worked out that all the management do is arrange breaks, ensure the shelves are full and delegate more menial tasks. Of course the downside is that they have to answer to the King.

I am trying to build up rapport with the regular female punters so I can suck them into TPS purchases. All in all it’s quite enjoyable.

Bollywood made her entrance at 2pm closely followed by Sherman Klump. She is always yawning and complaining of bad feet. The trouble-shooter was all over her like a cheap suit again but she smiled at me when I saw it take place and she now knows the score with these predatory Asian males.

The cash office Rottweiler is now very friendly to me and is actually ok.

Mr Klump asked me for the fridge temperature reader and I caught him out.

"Do you have a problem bending down" I said sarcastically.

"Yes" he replied sheepishly.

Due to his enormous belly he can only do things that are at waist level or above. Now I know why he has these certain tasks he performs. He can't do anything else but he's a decent bloke.

Rasta boy surfaced briefly and I’m now friendly with all of the staff.

July 16th 2010. 8am-4pm

The first communication of the day was, "you're not down to work today mate" from the Algerian.

However, the king's assistant told me I was working because the actor and fake Anglo Indian accent had called in ill. Bollywood was present at this early hour of the day and she was quite bouncy but then started yawning. Within minutes I was transferred to the small unit and the cockney scrubber observed that I was upset with that decision.

I was greeted by the slow boy and the Asian DJ/producer who I trained last week. This boy is a character. I will start with the fact he has sired three kids by two different mothers and he is only 21. I was pleased to hear that he sees the kids regularly and keeps in contact with the mothers. Also one of them has had breast implants.

I gave him a pep talk about playing the "game" with the punters but he knows the score already and it’s only his 3rd shift.

An attractive young blonde arrived at the front and requested a packet of menthol cigarettes.

"Did you know menthol cigarettes lower a man's sperm count" he began.

She was initially shocked at this comment but they both giggled and he smiled at me when she left the unit.

An old woman of about 70 demanded that I produce more staff out of thin air. I told her that I couldn’t do that and she walked out of the shop calling me a prat.

The "can you do me a favour" line has worn off on me. Even though we are all paid to do a job I found myself asking slow boy to do me a favour on 4 separate occasions. They all involved heavy manual work because I don't want another neck spasm. Also he hates working on the tills because he may have to use his brain. As far he's concerned he would rather be out on the floor or in the store doing the dirty work. His three-month probation expires next week and I wonder whether they will keep him on.

The DJ then started groping in his pocket for a mobile, which was on silent. That is the ultimate betrayal, carrying a mobile on your person. As bold as brass he took the call whilst manoeuvring himself out of the unit. He was even speaking on the phone in full view of the punters. Slow boy saw it and ushered him out of the danger zone. If any of the management had seen him he may have been fired.

The alleged reason for the call was that yesterday he moved into a new flat in Islington and after signing the contract realised the place was riddled with damp.

"Were you stoned when you signed the contract?" I asked

"No, I just didn't see the damp when the builders were refurbishing the flat" he replied.

I dined on a home cooked lunch comprising chicken breast and jasmine rice but forgot any sauce so it was very dry.

Unfortunately, the slim Indian cricketer decided I would spend the rest of my shift on my own looking after the baby unit. This unit has mainly English punters who are so boring they never engage. The women are dressed so poorly and the men have no personality.

There was no one of note to talk to and it was a very boring afternoon.

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