Silly Sainsburys Strikes Again !
December 8th 2009
It’s that supermarket again ! You know, the really, really silly one – Sainsburys.
Last Saturday December 6th at about four p.m. I went to buy just a handful of things at Sainsburys. Just imagine my astonishment at finding a huge queue of cars slowly edging forward to get into the car park.
Christmas shoppers must have gone berserk, I thought. It was the first Saturday of December and perhaps they were all desperate to get rid of all their money while they still had any; before the banks orchestrated another financial crisis and all the cash finally ran out just before Christmas, or the banks held onto everyone else’s cash for good because they just felt entitled to it as a Christmas bonus for themselves anyway.
When I eventually got into the car park it was even worse – completely jammed with cars with lights on and engines running honking at each other with frustration in the drizzle as they desperately tried to get out of the hellish place with their shopping.
But none of them were going anywhere, and that was what was blocking any cars from coming in and parking so as they could do their pre-Christmas shopping. It was chaos.
None of the long queue of cars waiting to go at the exit was moving, so I thought I would go and have a look to see what was stopping them leaving the car park.
Two shiny new barriers blocking the exit to the Sainsburys car had just been installed and two queues of completely stationary cars waited motionless with engines grumbling in front of them.
A rotund Indian looking gentleman holding an umbrella delicately in one hand was engaged in lengthy and earnest conversation with the driver at the head of one of the two queues of traffic waiting to escape.
“Do you have a card ?” I heard him say to the driver of the car.
”What bloody card ? Can’t you see the entry barriers are permanently up and no-one is being asked to press the entry button to get a swipe card to get into the car park,” said the irate driver.
The Indian looking gentleman slowly and painfully passed a few words of explanation to the driver before bending down awkwardly and fumbling around underneath the barrier control to press the release button to lift it and let the driver go. It took ages of fumbling to achieve this. It looked like a real bit of complicated skill was exerted to perform this simple button pressing function.
Then, the Indian looking gentleman slowly turned his bulk around and straightened up with some considerable effort to walk leisurely across the three yards to the other barrier to have the same conversation with the driver at the head of that queue before deigning to release him from the parking hell that Sainsburys car park had now become.
I watched this oaf ponderously ambling from one barrier to another and was completely astonished at this sight. What on earth possessed the man to make such an art form out of being as slow as possible to lift the barriers for each individual car. As cars were still entering the car park much faster than they were allowed to leave there were clearly going to be a lot of very angry people stuck in Sainsbury’s car park for the rest of the afternoon instead of being able to continue with their Christmas shopping. They were going to be hopping mad in fact.
So I approached this Indian looking gentleman to politely enquire why he didn’t just lift both the barriers and leave them up so the traffic could leave unhindered by his solicitousness.
Imagine my astonishment when he hurled a torrent of abuse at me, shouting “ Why, you stupid bloody man can’t you let me do my job, I’m not talking to you. You ‘re stopping these drivers from leaving are you ?” And further inarticulate insults wheezed at me in a thick Hindi accent.
As I thought this was quite ridiculous, I thought I would speak to the duty store manager lurking at the Customer Services desk as I went in. He identified himself as ‘Steve’ and pointed to his badge which also said ‘Steve’ with no surname.
So, Sainsburys obviously make their staff deliberately anonymous and unidentifiable then. I wonder why ?
Anyway, this ‘Steve’ commenced by telling me the car park was nothing to do with Sainsburys as they pay sub-contractor Euro Car Parks to manage the Sainsburys car park. He added there was only one car park attendant on duty at the moment which is why only one barrier at a time could be opened.
When I asked ‘Steve’ why, as it was Sainsburys’ own car park, they couldn’t just leave both barriers permanently up so both queues of cars could just go and stop blocking the entire car park of several hundred cars, Steve said, No he couldn’t do that because Sainsburys needed to retrieve all the swipe cards from shoppers who did actually have them to operate the new barriers.
Well then, said I, seeing as how he was the duty manager at Sainsburys, couldn’t he put one of his many staff at one of the barriers to help the Indian looking gentleman let the second irate queue of trapped stationary cars out at the same time as the first queue, ‘Steve said, “it’s more than my job’s worth”.
“Why’s that”, I said. “
Well”, ‘Steve’ told me, “It’s insurance isn’t it. I can’t just just put one of my staff out there. It’s a health and safety issue.They wouldn’t be insured to operate the barriers to let people out of the car park, would they ? ”
“It’s more than my job’s worth. I haven’t any authority to do that. What would happen if one of my staff was killed letting cars out of the car park. Where would that leave Sainsburys ?”, he said.
“What”, I said incredulously. “ All they have to do is press a button to lift the barrier for each car. It isn’t what you would call a dangerous job, is it ? I mean it is a bit difficult getting yourself killed just pressing a button, isn’t it ?”
“Well I can’t just ignore health and safety rules‘, Steve repeated. “It’s more than my job’s worth. I mean if someone got killed or injured out there or something Sainsburys could be lumbered with a huge insurance claim and I would get fired.”
So, dear reader, although I only had to spend a few minutes buying about ten items from Sainsburys, I was trapped in that bloody car park for three hours before the queues of cars ceased snaking all around the car park preventing people from even leaving their parking spaces, as they were doomed to just sit in their cars gnashing their teeth while their precious Saturday afternoon of Christmas shopping ebbed slowly away from them.
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.