Thursday 1 September 2016

Tesco – Care in the Community

It would appear that we all love to hate the supermarkets.  On the one hand we all shop there and expect goods to be cheaper and on the other we lambaste them at every opportunity.

Tesco has had its fair share of criticism for many reasons.  I shop at Tesco because it is the closest and have done for 40 years.  I don’t feel a particular loyalty but it is convenient, the prices and quality are good enough and the demeanour of the staff has improved substantially in recent years. 

My title “Care in the Community” relates to the name given to the Government programme launched several decades ago which aimed to deinstitutionalise people with mental health issues deemed not to be a risk to themselves or the community, out of institutions and back into the community. In general it is hugely preferable but resources do not always meet demand.

The links between this and Tesco are two incidents I have seen in the last couple of weeks.  Now that I don’t work full-time I no longer have to shop in quantity, or at night nor brave the crowds at weekends. So shopping (albeit not my favourite past-time) is a more leisurely affair.

The first was a couple of weeks ago – the cashier was scanning my shopping when a middle-aged woman clutching a cuddly toy came up to her – greeted her very effusively, insisted on kissing her and kissing the toy and the cashier kissing the toy as well. After a moment or two the cashier said to the woman – “now go and do your shopping and come back when you are ready, I need to finish this lady’s shopping” and off she went. The cashier thanked me for my patience, I asked if she was a friend and she said – “no, she comes in here a few times a week and always looks for the cashiers she knows and we always have to kiss her toy”.  

The second was last week: again my shopping was being scanned when I became aware of a woman at the next door till whose shopping was being scanned and who was shouting “I have bought too much, I don’t have enough money for a taxi, I shouldn’t have bought so much, I don’t have a car” and on and on.” The cashier said very quietly – “don’t worry, just tell me what you want to take out and we will do that.” The woman behind me must have said something to our cashier who replied, “She comes in several times a week and always fills her trolley but she only buys a few things, but we understand”.

I was moved and impressed.  So the next time the cashier is not quite quick enough or doesn’t smile enough or makes a mistake – just think of what they may have been doing that day.