The Hydra Files Supermarket Speak

If you go in any supermarket in the evenings, you are likely to see people working there. Many go to this college. Indeed, you may be thinking of applying for a job in said supermarket. And if you do, you may, indeed, be confronted by all sorts of technical jargon, because as you will find out, in supermarkets, staff are specially trained in calling everyday items, like cardboard boxes, something completely different which bears no relation to what you are speaking about, and when you mention it to a customer, they usually have no idea what the hell you are talking about, and you are forced to explain. So if you are new to the supermarket staff, or suddenly have the weird desire to do some shopping, Hydra presents the ultimate guide to 'Supermarket Speak'.

The Manager

Often called Dave or Andrew, which means my future looks bright, these people are the ones who are complete pains to work for, or indeed work with, and are in charge of you and your fellow workers. There are two types of managers classified by their name: Andrew and Dave. Those called Dave, start worrying. These people have extremely annoying voices, and even worse, love the sound of it. So just to annoy you, and everyone else in the store, they are the people who do the tannoy announcements (see later). Dave is usually a complete git, who is forever cutting staff and telling you how to do your own job, which, and indeed of course, you still won't know how to do it, despite the fact you have worked in the store for over a year. The female variety of this species tends to be called Karen, except they don't do the tannoy ads.

If your manager is called Andrew, relax, your in heaven. These people don't care when you leave work half an hour early, and just leave you to get on with everything, while they disappear for a couple of hours and wonder round the store talking to people - as you do. They are also incapable of making sure you get all you pay when you are supposed to, and are very good at ringing people up to get them to work overtime.


When you first start your job you will be trained in what you are supposed to do. This often involves working with a stressed out colleague called Debbie who has already worked fifty hours overtime that week. Training usually means doing all the jobs everyone else hates. Training later on in your career will involve working anti-social hours, sometimes with your manager, so you can become a member of the back-up team who can do everything in the department. There are usually only two people in this team - you and Debbie. Being part of the back-up tem involves getting lots of overtime at great times like Sundays and first thing in the morning, before college.


Means of making sure that you can have no kind of social life at all.


Cold, dark, dismal room occasionally staffed by cord-en-bleu (hint of sarcasm creeping in there), although always closed when you are hungry. The canteen staff make such delights as mixed grill (left over breakfast with a few mushrooms thrown in for good measure), although at Christmas, the canteen staff will treat you to a free dinner. But only on the one day of the week when you are not doing overtime.

Instore Cafe

Where you used to go for your breaks when the canteen was closed - until somebody decided to scrap staff discount, ban staff from entering unless they are not in uniform, and franchise the operation. The new operators cut staff, increase prices and rename it, and thus create a complete failure that no one uses.

Drinks Machine

Only form of refreshment when the canteen is closed, this metal monstrosity doesn't work properly, and especially loves putting a huge lump of orange syrup in the bottom of your Pepsi, and proceeds to charge you 15p for the for the pleasure. Often breaks down. See also complete rip-off (sorry that's the cafe isn't it?)


There are three uses for this.

Tannoy Announcements

Often made by manager Dave.

These announcements are hated by staff and the majority of customers alike - with the exception of old ladies who love them, and then proceed to tell anyone who will listen that they are the only reason why they shop in the store in the first place, because Dave "is so cheerful. He must be a nice man."

Dave is, of course, a complete git.

Twighlight Staff

A group of people who stack the shelves late at night when the store is closed. See also Fools.

Point Of Sale

Blatantly obvious this one - its a sign with a price on it. Made by the signwriter, who in my store, is called Conway who is very good at leaving work three hours later than he should do, and doesn't get paid for the pleasure.


A shelf! So ner.


A fridge. There are two other kinds of coolers:


A piece of metal which carries such items as rubbish and fresh chickens.


Bit of metal that supposedly is supposed to move a heavy laden pallet, but usually breaks the minute anyone tries to use it to do its job.


Just to show the mentality of the people who think up this jargon, a case is a box. A cardboard box. With more cardboard boxes inside. Need I Say More?

And that's that...

Well that concludes our look at 'Supermarket Speak'. The definitions refer to a supermarket in Hyde, but varieties can be found in all supermarkets. I'm sure Asda and Tesco have their own Daves, Andys and Conways. Researched during my time working in the bakery at above supermarket where I can be found at many times in the week.

Next issue (hopefully): how to deal with those frequently asked supermarket questions.

In February 1995 Edition

Background Information

In October 1996 I started working in a local supermarket. Supermarket Speak was my attempt to make some sense out of the bizarre place that was Food Giant, Hyde after working there for a few months.

Thankfully by the time I'd left it made a bit more sense. Mind you this was three years later...


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