The Hydra Files Supermarket FAQs

You know how it is. You're organising your freezers/vegetables/cream cakes and somebody comes along, and asks you a question.

It could be anything, from 'Can you tell me where the sugar is?' to the one which I get frequently (for some unknown reason) 'Are you the bakery manager?' I would love to respond with 'Do I look like the sad kind of person who would work full time in a sad supermarket, for crap pay?', but I'd probably get the sack. But there are a number of ways you can deal with these Frequently Asked Questions (or FAQs to save on paper).

In my experience, the most common FAQ is to ask for directions. For example, where I work, granulated sugar is nowhere near the other sugars, which does confuse people. But there are a number of ways you can respond to these questions:

The 'Go Away You Sad Looser, I'm Very Busy' Method

Not to be attempted when a senior manager is stood nearby. If you are very busy, perhaps the best method is just to grunt and point in the general direction of the product, and mutter 'Its over there' under your breath, before running away and hiding. This is very useful, because you can use it, even if you don't know where the product is, as if the customer isn't likely to ask you again.

The 'I Haven't A Clue Where It Is, But I'm Not Going To Admit It!' Method

If you aren't too busy, you may like to try this one. If you honestly don't know where the hell the product is, just wander round where you think it might be until you either find it, or annoy the customer so much that the walk off muttering under their breath that they'll find it themselves. Very good if you want to 'annoy' someone.

The 'Dunno Mate, Be He/She/It Might!' Method

Very useful if someone else is near, and you can't be bothered. Just point to your co-worker and suggest that your customer asks that employee, "cos you don't know".

The 'It's Under Your Nose Mate!' (Method 1)

This is one to use if your customer can't see what is right under their nose, and can be quite humorous. Just say 'Its right there!' and listen out for the customer saying things like 'How stupid of me!' at which point you can say something witty like 'Yes! How STUPID of you!' before walking away.

The 'It's Under Your Nose Mate!' (Method 2)

The alternative is a lot more fun. This is how it goes. The customer asks you where the product is. You admit to the fact that you don't know, but you tell the customer that you will go and consult with someone who does know. At this point head for cover, with areas like corridors, warehouses or for the very stupid, meat freezers. Wait for about five minutes, while you have a quick sleep, sweet or fag. Go out onto the shop floor. Unless your customer has spotted the product, or seen another member of staff (both of which are very unlikely, you don't see staff in supermarkets! Don't be silly!), they will still be stood there, awaiting your arrival. Go up to them, and say in a very load, and clear voice 'It was there all the time!' before walking away and muttering 'Stupid Moron!', of course, under your breath.

The 'I'm Very Bored, So I Need A Good Excuse To Go And Talk To Karen From Deli' Method

If you are not very busy, and a customer asks you where a product is, that is located general direction of the deli counter, then make sure you show the customer exactly where the product is, before stopping off and having a good natter with your esteemed colleague Karen from Deli for about ten minutes, as neither of you are busy, and need a good excuse to waste some time. This is especially useful if your domain is nowhere near another member of staff, as it gives you an excellent excuse to wander about aimlessly, talking to people for at least half an hour.

Other Questions

It would be very boring if all your FAQs were about directions. But there are others.

I am frequently asked if I am the baker. Now at this point it isn't a good idea to mention the fact that the supermarket you work for is crap, and the only bread made on the premises comes in box, before a crust is added in the oven. It is best just to say that the baker is on his/her meal break, and will be back in about half an hour.

Another one is where people assume I am the baker, and start asking for advice for advice on which flour to use when making apple pies. I just smile, sweetly, and dish out some line similar to 'I haven't got a clue, pal', only nicer in tone.

Those of you lucky people you get to work in the meat department will often be asked things like 'Are you the butcher?' (yeah, right, you just shove the stuff on the shelves) or for cooking or freezing advice.

Cooking times are easy. Just waffle on for about ten minutes, quoting entirely fictitious cooking times, and make a number up for the temperature of the oven or pan. As for freezing, pick a number, any number. Multiply it by 3 and divide by 4 and quote this as the length of time the meat will last in an industrial freezer like the one you've got in the back. Now make a quick exit.

So there you are. You should now be able to face any question a customer can hit you with, and if I haven't touched upon certain areas then you should be able to improvise your answer using the examples given above. Have fun.

This was part two of our look at supermarkets. Written by Bods, who is currently the master baker in a local supermarket, and has been involved in the training of many of his colleagues.

And now for an amendment to last issues article, 'Supermarket Speak'. Under the heading 'Fresh - Bakery' it should not read "We got the bread out of a box and put it in the oven for ten minutes", but should be "We got the bread out of a box, put it in the oven for between 6 and 11 minutes, adding steam for the final minute, but with no steam when baking brown bread." So ner.

In Easter 1995 Edition

Background Information

Following on from Supermarket Speak, more insight into the world of supermarkets from a teenage perspective.

Incidentally whilst working in Food Giant in Hyde, I did spend far too much time on a Monday night talking to Karen on Deli, mainly as once she started talking to you, it was hard to get her to stop! Not that I minded. The 5-8:15pm time slot was particularly tedious, except when Karen was around.


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