Going through the stockroom to clock in, the shelving is skeletal; then where the cages of new delivery go, are neatly laid out posters, huge and bright as medeival banners - 70%OFF, 90% OFF, LAST FEW DAYS, EVERYTHING MUST GO.
Clever people have said Woolworths should have found a niche, but here there will be a HUGE gap when it goes. There are so many things that can't be bought anywhere else in the town : toys, kids' clothes etc. But it's the mundane like printer paper and saucepans which can be got elsewhere, though much more expensively, that people are gathering up like flotsam from a wreck as they wander round in a mood of excited disbelief. Some sections are already covered with CLOSING DOWN posters like coins on a dead person's eyes, hiding the unnerving emptiness. The last delivery had an aweful lot of cheap duvet covers and they are filling gaps in all departments, and, as the queues have been so big there's been no time to make labels, many things are unpriced which adds to the confusion.
Customers are all very kind, wishing us luck in getting another job, but everybody just want the store to stay open. An old lady said to me, distrought "But where will I buy safety pins now?"
When it was time to go home, our manager went to go up the stairs to the back door, to put the bar across (last year someone kept breaking into the store, but not taking anything. Maybe a member of shoplifters anonymous, or possibly a burglar who, like so many other people just wanted a Wii) His foot splashed. Rainwater was streaming under the door and waterfalling down. He lifted his foot, shook it and laughed. Turning to go the opposite way, we went through the security door propped open as the stairs' light's not been working since the heating got fixed - this caused several pipes to burst. Most of the leaks are cought by bins and buckets requisitioned from the shop floor, but it proved more hazardous having buckets than puddles at the top and bottom of the stairs. We went up to clock out. Doing up our coats, the girls laughing, we took care at the bottom of the side stairs so's not to slip on the slushy cardboard soaking up the leak from the other door.
I walked to the end of the road with our assistant manager. She's got a horrible cold. I don't know how she kept going yesterday with the huge queues. Her husband's on incapacity, mine's applying for it. She said she'd been advised her husband should claim for her when she became unemployed as they'd get more. Said, her voice hoarse, maybe with cold, we must keep in touch so she could give me advice.
Walking up the hill home I remembered all the things I'd put on the now empty shelves for nearly 6 years: easter eggs, then garden furniture, then back to school stationary, then Christmas sweets, then january sales. How I'd thought the person in charge of the stockroom was teasing (he usually is) when he'd said been told there'd be no January sale this year