A Good Deed

Recollections of time gone by in February, yet it only seems like yesterday!

On a cold February 2002 morning travelling to Milton Keynes, I witnessed a classic example of dangerous and irresponsible driving, which showed total disregard for road markings. Fortunately, a potentially serious road accident was averted, almost entirely by luck rather than design. Two vehicles travelling immediately in front of me decided to overtake a van in front of them at a point where overtaking was forbidden. The first vehicle completed the manoeuvre but the second car encountered a vehicle travelling in the opposite direction. Instead of aborting, the driver proceeded, forcing the oncoming vehicle off the road. Needless to say, he failed to stop, leaving both the driver of the van and me to ascertain the well-being of the lady driver forced off the road.

Thankfully, she was only shaken by the experience, and suffered no apparent injuries. Had she left the road two metres beforehand, her vehicle would have collided with a large road sign and the consequences may well have been more serious. That evening I received a most unexpected telephone call from the lady’s husband expressing his gratitude for my support and assistance earlier in the day. For my part, it was the proper thing to do, but the later acknowledgement was appreciated, nevertheless.

In 2003 I learnt that my job was at risk as the Company for which I then worked announced a further 250 redundancies. This was the fourth time in 30 months that this announcement had been made, and was becoming tiresome to say the least! The Company stressed that the redundancies were essential in order that it could remain competitive in an ever-changing market place, and cost savings had to be made across the business.

Ironically, the Company could always find the money to stage lavish conferences and team development seminars, at which time costs appeared to be of little significance. In addition, the Company would pay high travelling costs and hotel bills for branch staff to meet regularly at their Head Office even though many of the meetings were both unnecessary and unproductive! The so-called teams that were developed quickly became disillusioned and demoralised, and once the redundancies became effective, the teams were fragmented, thereby eroding much of the former investment made to develop them in the first place! Whilst my job did come to an end after some 13 years, there was a little divine justice as the Company effectively collapsed within the ensuing twelve months resulting in even more job losses.

It would appear that my luck in supermarket queues has not changed over the years! Back in 2002 I found myself behind two customers who, between them, managed to slow the checkout process to a snail’s pace. The first had selected a large bag of cherries and when these were being weighed by the cashier, the customer was advised that they would cost nearly £15. The customer challenged this price and said that they were shown as being priced at £1.99, resulting in a supervisor having to be called to verify the price. After what seemed an interminable time, the supermarket operative confirmed the original price, at which point the customer declined to buy them, and slowly filled the carrier bags with her remaining purchases. I really do wonder how stupid some people can be, expecting to purchase a kilo of fresh cherries for less than £2!

The next customer had inadvertently picked up a packet of bread rolls with a broken seal. Again, this required another member of staff to be called to replace the item. To add to my frustration at the delay, the cashier decided to enter into a lengthy conversation with the customer, seemingly ignorant of the fact that there were other customers waiting in the queue.

Of course, the simple solution to this problem would be for supermarkets to ensure that the maximum number of tills were open during their busiest trading times. Is that too much to ask, or is it me? Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons, please take note! Whilst I don’t mind queueing if all available checkouts are open, my tolerance evaporates at a rapid rate when so many of them remain closed whilst staff seemingly wander aimlessly around the stores.

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