Life, Football, Technology and Vespas…

Help you overdose sir? Certainly…

Being away from somewhere for long periods enables you to see the small, incremental changes that occur, in one big go. Having not lived in the UK for about 6.5 years now, it is interesting to see how some of the changes really stand out, but seem almost inconsequential to those who live there.

For example, it seemed to me that the natural thought process, or decision making that occurs in humans, is slowly being eradicated from most people’s daily lives – with specific reference to people who are interacting with the suing public. They revert to what they are ‘allowed to do’, rather than using the soft nougatty centre of their head to make a sensible decision. Almost always sacrificing common sense.

I know it is typical for an ex-pat to circumstantiate their reasons for leaving their home country – often by highlighting the implementation of unfavourable policies, rules or laws. It seems to act as some kind of justification for moving away. I am not doing that now. I moved away for different reasons, but part of the reason I stay away is because of the half baked policies that are introduced with monotonous regularity under the guise of either Health & Safety or Security. Lets take the following example:

Upon arriving in the UK, I caught a bit of a cold and being determined to not allow some grogginess and projectile phlegm ruin my vacation, I set off to buy some drugs. Being Montrose, the best place to buy drugs, or anything for that matter – whether it be porn, car exhausts, sponge bob swimming goggles and I am led to believe – even food, then you must go to Tescos. These unscrupulous bastards will sell rain to the Scottish if they could just work out how to put a barcode on it.

I got the feeling that I am the only one who has noticed that Tescos has just simply stopped doing shit for you. It’s small things, like service… And not only is there an absence of some rather useful commodities such as customer interaction, but you are considered to be completely out of order if you are to go looking for it.

Pick up a bunch of bananas – wait a minute…where is the person with the headphones and the long hair that usually stands here, ties a knot in the bag and weighs them?

“Oh him… what?? There’s nobody doing that anymore. Not for a LONG time.. You have to take it to the self-serving, self-paying, pack-it, stack-it, weigh-it-yourself and get-the-hell-out counter over there… (you lazy bastard)”

This was the response from an actual customer who had been made to stack shelves for the last seven hours while she was looking for tinned apricot halves.

I deliberately do not use those damn self service machines, and I strongly urge everyone else to follow suite. Or better still, break them. For every one of those they put in, 2 people lose their jobs. Ultimately, you have to do more work yourself, waste more of your own time, and those tramps at Tescos make even more profit. Create jobs and contribute to the local economy by putting your boot through them.

Also, the additional hassle it adds to your life is really something you can do without. You don’t need people standing behind you, huffing and moaning under their breath, waiting on you because you have not developed the precision timing required to move the item you just scanned, to the little bagging area before it complains.

You see, these WALL-E checkouts all have a weighing mechanism built into the area that you pack the bags. It is designed to check that the item you scanned is weighed, and that that weight is the same as the one stored in their database. This is done to determine whether you or not you are a thieving kleptomaniac. Checking that you do not scan in a packet of fruit pastilles and tuck away 4kg of ribeye steak into the bag…

So what you end up doing, is ducking and dodging frantically between the scanner and the bags until the inevitable happens. The machine humiliatingly signals to everyone in the store that you lost, and that you need help – much to the dismay of the queue (of 1) behind you, who is now scratching their eyes out because they have to now wait that little bit longer. WALL-E alerts a supervisor and he now has to pause his ipod, stop mopping the floor, and for about three minutes, punch in an 84 digit nuclear launch code sequence, all of which must be verified by a combination of swipe cards and keys and eventually, he completes your transaction for you because he knows you are going to fuck it up again the moment his back is turned…

So I avoid this potentially disastrous scenario and trundle up to isle 14. Isles 1-12 are all talking tills with bags. 13 was occupied by a human, who happened to be engaging in some pleasant conversation with a customer. Fancy that. So the cheerful lady at till 14, which happened to be the last checkout, proceeded to bleep my goods through the scanner and passing them down to the end of the counter, for me to pack. Quite happily I may add. She even threw in some pleasantries like ‘It’s a fine day, today’. There was no truth in that of course. This was Montrose and it was 3 degrees celsius outside. Cold enough to shrivel anything to the size of a walnut whip. But she made you feel like it was a fine day and that was nice. Everyone was happy. Until her beady eye spied the next three items to come out of my trolley…

Lemsip. Nurofen. Panadol.

From the look I got from her it could have just as well been :

Child Porn. Heroin (complete with used needle). A beating human heart.

“Oh no… she gasps. I cannot possibly ring up ALL those three together. I will have to run them through as separate transactions”. She then moved the offending items to the side so she could scan the newspaper, cotton wool, fertilizer and diesel that Tescos will gladly flog you copious amounts of….

She was serious. This was a grown woman not actually refusing to sell me the items out of consideration for my own well being, but just seemed to be wasting more peoples’ time and money in insisting on running through multiple transactions. I still left the store with the three items – just inconvenienced and bewildered that the initial horror she exhibited had now been abated by the sight of not one, but three transaction slips.

I could not help wondering what the hell was the purpose or reasoning for this amazing policy? Obviously, when i asked her I got the ‘health & safety’ rhetoric, so some bonehead must have thought ‘what can I do to reduce people killing themselves on night nurse?’ I know… I will force them into enduring not one, but multiple transactions in Tescos. I actually think that it might induce suicidal or murderous tendandancies. I certainly felt like beating someone to death with a bag of wet lettuce.

Surely though, if someone really wanted to top themselves, (and I am not advocating this) would it not be a better plan to just start snatching pills and powders off the shelves and start scoffing as much as is physically possible? You would probably have about 37 minutes to gulp down enough omega 3 oil, extract of malt and benylin as is possible, giving you enough time for your body to produce a kaleidoscope of colours and textures in the fish finger isle when you do snuff it, before some hormonally imbalanced, spotty youth identifies that you are not weighing fruit.

So I have come to the conclusion that if were thinking of ending it all –  if I did decided that I could no longer continue, packing my own bags, looking for one thing in a store that has over 2 million line items,  and when I eventually do find it, take on a losing battle with HAL 9000; then I would end it all in a Tesco store, overdosing on toilet duck and cat litter. That way at least they would HAVE to employ someone to come and clean up the mess…


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