Especially in a supermarket on a Saturday.
Saturdays are usually our busiest days, it's the main family shopping day, which is one reason I'm glad I only work every second one.
When I was on checkout, I rarely worked Saturdays, only coming in if someone else called in sick and couldn't make it, or during really busy seasons such as December and Easter.
Now, my roster has me working every second Saturday and it hasn't been so bad, I'm getting used to the routine.
But it's getting closer to Christmas, so people are going a little crazy. Not only are they coming in shopping, but they're bringing friends. And relatives. And half of Melbourne. Some of Perth too perhaps. (yes, I'm exaggerating a little).
Today I'm sure there must have been a million people in the store, every department calling for help from every other department, to keep the customers flowing instead of bottlenecked.
In the aisles, along the front of them, we have Christmassy banners displayed, obscuring the aisle number. No big deal, there are numbers displayed further down, big letters, easy enough to see. Yet some people had a bit of trouble locating aisles....."which way is aisle 7 dearie?"
The congestion in some aisles! People who hadn't seen each other, oh forever! you know, since yesterday...stopped to catch up and tell each other their life stories. In reality probably discussing their Christmas plans, I didn't stop to find out.
I spent most of the day retrieving stock from the bin at the express checkouts, where items are put when people change their minds and no longer want the item(s). Go there, fill a basket, roam the aisles putting them back on the shelves.
Repeat, repeat, repeat. Oh my feet!
But get this! While I'm walking around returning stuff, what do I see? Other items that people just shove into the nearest shelf when they decide they don't want or need this thing after all.
Regular grocery items? Not so bad. Pop them in my basket and continue returning them.
But *deli meats? Left in the toilet paper stacks?
*Cheese? Left in amongst the dog food?
A bag of mushrooms tossed behind the crisps.
A loaf of bread sitting on top of packets of laundry powder.
An open carton of juice, half empty, in with the soft drinks.
(If *these items aren't found on the same day, they go "off" very quickly, smelling out the area).
But it's December. Getting close to Christmas. So customers have other things on their minds. They're too busy to walk 2 aisles back to where they were and put something back where they got it from. We'll forgive them.
I spent a little time today dodging two small boys who were running up and down a clear area of floor, now and again they would break routine and roll along the floor instead. They were having a great time. Dad was nearby watching over them, I think Mum was trawling the aisles, free to shop without having to keep an eye on two boisterous boys.
Keeping the basket rack filled kept me hopping too. When customers are finished with their basket, it gets left at the front of each checkout. When time permits, any staffer not currently busy will collect these and return them to the rack at the entrance. A few times a day is usually enough. But today? Roughly every 20 minutes, the baskets stacked at checkouts were almost fence height, (slight exaggeration there), meaning somebody had to do the "basket run".
Since everyone else was busy, busy, busy serving those millions of people, I did the basket runs.
In between these tasks, I helped customers find items they couldn't find. Not as easy as it sounds. While I know where most things are, we have some new items and I have no idea where to find them. Asking the customer about the item helps here. Is it a shelf item or refrigerated? What is it used for? This gives an indication of which section of the store to search.
I don't mind at all helping people find things as I also learn where things are this way and the next time someone wants that particular item, I can take them straight to it.
All in all, it's been a very busy Saturday and bound to get even busier closer to Christmas.
I should sleep well tonight.
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