When there is a nuclear accident, far away the first sign is mutation.
Yesterday a helicopter previously scanning at 9.99 suddenly came up as an Incredible Hulk Extravaganza at 39.99. I showed our manager, who blinked, and gave me a packet of white labels to stick over their barcodes.
For reasons I've never understood there are things called plannagrams - plans of how shelves should be filled, each item in its place, anything not on plannagram demoted to "residual" and put out of the way with an orange label, or back in the stockroom. There are regulations for exact shelf height. This would be a good idea if it were possible to have in stock the items on the plannagram. For weeks after the new plannagram was done much of the Home area (kitchen, bathroom, tools) was blank shelves, as none of the "planned" items had been delivered. Then when relevant things arrived, they were not on the plannagram so went upstairs. Customers had been asking for flasks since October, but the ones that came in were the wrong height for the shelf. The shelf could not be adjusted because head office might send someone in with a tape measure to check shelf height. I laid the flasks on their side and gave them an orange label. The person in charge that shift said doubtfully "At least they are on the flask shelf."
The area manager came to do a few shifts in the summer, with the purpose of ironing out problems at grass root level. I asked him why growing plants were plannagramed on bottom shelves where they didn't get any light. He asked me why I thought it was. "Because everyone is stupid in head office?" Darling off Black Adder could not have looked more incredulous had Baldrick criticised the General. A few weeks later, all the plants were reduced to 1.00, then all to 50p, then when shrivelled beyond hope, scanned out under perishable and dropped in the skip. This bit of shelf was needed for gifts, which included "paint your own dinner plate" which were not selling for 50p last Spring, but came back in this October at full price. Though not kids gloves, despite flip flops being on the plannagram last february.
As the news spread beady eyed bargain hunters darted between staff and shelves, asking for prices incase they were dropped. As the afternoon went on staff would come and scan prices for themselves. I wondered about a toy my little boy had wanted, quarter its original price, then realised 5.00 was too much with no job.
Feeling like the musicians on the sinking Titanic I went upstairs to get more stock. There is a ghost upstairs. Our assistant manager, now 46, who'd started here from school, is the only person apart from me to've seen it, but lots of people have felt it, including her aunts who'd worked here too. I wondered what it would do.
As I filled up the irons and toasters an exasperated lady told her frustrated daughter she MIGHT get her some toy or other for Christmas, but she wasn't going to buy it NOW. I said that Woolworths might be closing tomorrow. The lady looked suprised. "So, if we're going to buy it, we'd better get it now?" The daughter brightened.
17 people work here now. There are 3 jobs in the jobcentre, all needing experience I don't have. On the way home I stopped off at the supermarket; I'd worked there before, as a cleaner, but had left after having to clean the toilet floor with a nailbrush. Someone I'd been joking with last late shift was already there, asking to be put on the vacancies list.