Wednesday 25 November 2009

By any other name……..

We were in Sainsco’s – not our local bandits as it happens, although I guess they’re probably all much of a muchness, but another example further afield. We only wanted a couple of bits and pieces rather than the customary over-indulgent truckload, and it happened to be on the way back from where we’d been to pick up a load of books.

The store was quite busy – it was after all Saturday lunchtime - but we weren’t that fussed – grab a basket - nip round – pick up the few odds and sods, and straight to the quick checkout..


Except why is it that supermarkets – they all do it, no matter which flavour – why is it they always station the slowest dimmest, most gormless checkout girl, or the one who speaks the least English, on the quick checkout line?

And why is it that there’s always some female (they’re always female – it’s obviously a Girl Thing.) in front of you with about forty money-off vouchers to be fed one by one through the system, whereafter she’ll check her bill, item by item, with Ms Dimbo Snailspace al Raschid at the till, and then, and only then, she’ll spend ten minutes going through all her various pockets, handbags and shopping bags trying to find her purse, thereafter counting out the cash, more often than not in large quantities of coin. Grrrrr!

So I’m standing at the checkout behind her, with thoughts of slow torture and bloody homicide running through my head, and the Tannoy erupts into life.

“This is a Colleague Announcement. Would all checkout colleagues please assemble at their checkout points. “

“A Colleague Announcement” ?

A What????

Why, for God’s sake?

Is plain English really no longer good enough? OK – “workers” is probably pushing the Trades Descriptions Act envelope a bit, but why is the word “Staff” suddenly unacceptable? And why do they have to “Assemble”? A simple “All staff to the checkouts, please” would be so much easier to understand, and so much less intrusive to pedantic Linguaphiles like wot I am. Besides, who do they think they’re trying to impress? The place is almost entirely staffed by ethnic minorities, most of whom wouldn’t know a colleague from a cauliflower. And as far as the customers are concerned, providing there’s somebody they can ask where the Orange Squash lives, or if they sell paper plates, couldn’t give a toss whether they’re speaking to staff, colleagues, workers, esteemed employees, the Board of Management, the Archangel Gabriel, or the Great Panjandrum Himself.

Anyway - eventually, we manage to dump some of our hard-earned on an undeserving Sainsco, and head for the exit. I’m surprised they don’t call it an egress – it sounds so much more superior. Except that the customers (how long will it be before we’re “clients”, I wonder) probably wouldn’t recognise it, and they’d spend all afternoon asking some ‘colleague’ or another for the Way Out.

On the wall above the door to the Car Park I noticed the following rubric:

“Sorry you have to go. Come again – see you very soon. Drive safely.”

So not only have I spent half-an-hour buying such comestibles as would have taken me five minutes in an old-fashioned grocer’s shop, but now I find I’m being commiserated at for leaving their premises, being ordered when to report back, and by implication having my driving criticised.

By a Wall, no less.

Sorry, Sainsco, I shan’t be coming again. Soon or otherwise. On me, you shouldn’t rely, if you aren’t prepared to eschew all this fake posh and verbose rubbish and tell it like it is.

Or in the case of the Wall, preferably not at all.