Irrational Encounters With The Modern World

Cashier


Horsing Around With Supermarket Pricing.

Earlier this week, I was in my local branch of a mid-sized national supermarket chain. I happened to see an offer on burgers, and took a photo of the sign in order to make a silly joke on facebook, with reference to the UK horsemeat burger news story of last week. One of my friends looked beyond the cheap gag, and pointed out that the pricing information on the sign was arithmetically incorrect. I decided, for my own amusement, to write a complaint to the company in question. Ostensibly, it would be about the news story, and I would fill it with as many puns and as much wordplay as I could, before making a comparatively serious point about mathematical standards. This is the letter I sent, after the photo that I took.

BirdsEye Burgers

Hay there,

Unless you have had the blinkers on, I am sure you will be familiar with the major headline story last week. On the back of the recent news reports about “beef” burgers and their contents, I’m afraid I wish to register rather a serious complaint regarding one of the products you offer for sale. I saw it, and took the attached photograph, in a branch in Glasgow, on Monday 21st January.

I understand that this brand, Birds Eye, was not caught up in the recent ‘horsemeat’ scandal. I can only presume that this is because they use their name to alert consumers to the possibility that their burgers may contain alternative types of meat, for example avian ocular organs.

I am aware that, by law, burgers must have a minimum meat content, and I absolutely trust that the majority of burgers do contain a minimal amount of meat. Listening to the naysayers, this issue seems to be less about eating Red Meat, and more about inadvertently eating Red Rum.

I understand, too, that – while your business may have stable suppliers – it is not your mane duty to vet all sources of meat used in the products you sell. I do not mean to nag, nor to stirrup trouble, and trust that you will not trot out a generic answer to this statement of concern.

Selling these particular burgers at half price, after this (without wishing to sound too grand) national outrage, seems – in a manner of speaking – a little like you are shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted. It is almost as if you do not wish to be saddled with this remaining  stock.

Having had free rein to bring this to your attention, I am now champing at the bit to explain the nature of my complaint. It relates to the advertising sign attached to the shelf edge in the photo, and I am not sure how it got pastyour quality control department.

Specifically, as you will see, the sign pronounces “Half Price” in large, bold letters. The original selling price, as stated and struck through, is £2.70.

You are offering this pack for sale at £1.29. I am not sure where you learned division, but it does not take great dexterity to realise that half of £2.70 is £1.35.

I realise that it is too late to amend this sign, and merely suggest that greater care is taken in future when calculating differences in price. Indeed, you could have made this offer seem more attractive to the potential consumer, by pointing out that it represents a saving of MORE THAN half price.

As you may gather, from reading this email, I am presently (like so many others) unemployed. I will be happy to come in and do basic maths or proofread signs for you on a regular basis, for a small fee. I am also available for any writing vacancies you may have, for example in public relations, subject to appropriate remuneration.

I do hope that you will give this some serious consideration, and await your reply..

—–

If a reply is recieved, be certain that I will post it here. I sincerely hope that they will reply in the same spirit in which this was written.

Edit, 2nd May 2014: Fourteen months after I questioned their maths, to which no reply was forthcoming, they have still failed to grasp basic concepts. A three-day weekend is fifty percent longer than a normal one. They are eight hours short.

co-op maths

 

 

 


Getting Carried Away With Environmental Duty.

I bought a new pair of jeans yesterday, from a well-known and low-priced High Street retailer. For a few years now, this retailer has been putting all purchases into paper bags as a matter of course.

As the assistant reached for one yesterday, a particularly wet day even for Glasgow, I asked if she didn’t have one that was perhaps a little more waterproof.

“I’ll double-bag it for you,” she said, and put the paper bag inside another paper bag. This didn’t afford any additional protection from the elements, but it did allow me to carry twice as much soggy paper around. Until the handle predictably gave way.

I can’t help but feel that any environmental benefit of using paper bags is offset by the need to immediately wash your new clothes, after the bag has disintegrated and they have landed in a puddle.

I understand that paper is better than plastic as it breaks down faster. It would just be useful if it didn’t fully biodegrade on the journey home.

 

 


Unfortunate Turns Of Phrase.

I confused a friend in London once, when I mentioned in conversation that I had “just jumped the tube.” I used it casuallyand offhand as an expression meaning that I jumped ON the tube as a means of getting where I was going, and not – as she interpreted – to mean that I had literally vaulted a turnstile to avoid paying my fare.

Whether the use of the word in this context is unique to Glasgow, or Scotland, I don’t know. I do know that it was in a Glasgow supermarket where I heard it used entirely inappropriately.

It was one of these sizeable (but not out-of-town) supermarkets with its own car park, and the checkouts had low metal barriers that swung across the lanes and were locked when the checkout was not in use. Most of these checkouts had a single lane, but every so often there was a double gate, where two checkouts had their lanes next to each other. It was at one of these double gates that I witnessed the following.

Someone in a wheelchair was waiting for one of the staff to unlock these gates so the aisle would be wide enough for them to leave. The guy unlocked the gates, held them open for the person, and said “Just jump through there.”

It was said without thought or malice, and I don’t think anyone else picked up on it – it’s such a common phrase here – but I noticed it, and it stuck with me.

So aye.

 

 


Counter Service Intelligence

I had two encounters that amused me today, but you’ll need some background for the first one.

Prior to Christmas, I was employed by the Royal Mail via Manpower via the Work Programme. That sounds a bit messy, and it was. The job was meant to last until March, but lasted just fifteen days. There’s plenty more I plan to say about that in due course. Manpower’s staff and conduct were abysmal, so I made a formal complaint. This went to a grievance hearing, at their invitation, and the letter of outcome that arrived last week was very unsatisfactory in many ways. Feeling that they just don’t care, I wrote a letter to head office appealing the decision, but keeping my tongue firmly in my cheek. That letter will undoubtedly appear here once they have had the chance to respond – my wee sister read it and cried laughing. Today, though, I went to the Post Office to mail it.

The counter clerk, a wee Glesga Woman, took it from me, and asked if there was anything of value in it – vouchers, cheques, etc. I said no, only satire.

“What’s satire?” she asked, “Is that a flag?”

“No, that’s The Saltire.”

“So what’s satire then?”

“Sarcasm,” I said, explaining briefly the content of the letter and reason for sending it. She was happy to have learned a new word, and said she felt bad having to charge me to post it. I said that was fine, just so long as they don’t lose it…

 

From there, I went to The Co on the corner of Gordon Street and Union Street to pay a bill. They have the electronic voice thing that beckons you forth, and I was directed to Cashier Number Seven Please. Glancing up at the numbered LED displays above each till, it was obvious that they only go up to six. I took my chances, and went for the last till. When I mentioned the anomaly, the girl said “I know, I don’t know why that is.”

I asked if it was a joke, so they could stand and laugh at anyone stood scratching their head while trying to work out why they’d been called to the seventh till in a line of six. She laughed and said “Aye, that’s it.”

That was my entertainment for the day, not least because they both happened within minutes of each other. Sometimes I’m easy pleased.