Monday, July 31, 2006

Heart Stopping Supermarket Checkout

Written 26 July, 2006: On my way home from work, today, I decided to stop at the big Tesco on the other side of town, as I was over that way. Last week, I was a bit more lazy than usual and bought some Sainsbury's Basics Cole Slaw, while shopping at Sainsbury's, rather than make a separate trip to Tesco. As I have written previously, Tesco Value Cole Slaw tastes way better than Sainsbury's Basics Cole Slaw, but costs the same. I later regretted getting the Sainsbury's Basic Slaw. It just tasted so terrible. Today, I acquired some Tesco spaghetti, Tesco Healthy Living pasta sauce, Tesco Select Ready Salted Crisps (potato chips for my American readers) 12 pack, Tesco hot dog buns, Tesco American Long Grain Rice, Tesco Value ramen noodles (curry flavor), Tesco Value stiryfry mixed vegetables, Scottish minced beef, marked down as it was on its sell by date, Tesco Value pork chops, and, as a special treat, a two liter bottle of Tesco Appleade with no sugar added. Oh, and a 500 gram Tesco Value Cole Slaw, of course.
I approached the row of checkout counters, trying to spot a suitable one. I passed counter after counter, as they either had cashiers who were ugly, or had too long a line. If I have to pay supermarket prices, I prefer giving my money to a pretty face. At least I might as well enjoy the checkout experience. It was hard, today, as I was having trouble finding a suitable one that didn't have a long line. Then I spotted a very short line with an oriental looking cashier. Ok, she wasn't gorgeous, but she wasn't ugly. The guy at the end of the line only had one item to purchase! I eagerly started putting my items on the belt. Heavy items first, then lighter items last, so they don't get crushed. I arrange the items on the belt in the order I want to bag them.
When I joined the line, there were only two people in it. The first was a middle-aged housefrau, who was in the process of having her purchases rung up by the cashier, then there was the man with one item. My expectation was that the line would move fast. Housefrau was ready to pay. Oh no! She was paying by cheque. This slowed the whole process down. The cashier decided she needed assistance from a supervisor. The good news is that one was close at hand, although he walked slowly, like he was in no hurry. Maybe he's on an hourly wage. He should consider us customers, who want to get home. He informed the cashier that she should write the woman's cheque guarantee card number on the back of the cheque. It's 2006, why the hell is anyone still paying at supermarkets by cheque? The woman's cheque guarantee card is also a debit card, as is common here, in the UK. Why slow down the line by using a cheque when she could have just paid with the debit card and the money would have come out of her current account (checking account, for American readers) anyway?
Finally, housefrau was away. One item man breezed through, then it was my turn. I was studying the features of the oriental looking cashier, trying to figure out where she might be from. She had browner skin than the Black Queen (my half Chinese, evil ex-wife) does and her face didn't scream Chinese, Japanese, or Korean at me. Tibetan, or Nepalese drifted through my mind, as I considered possibilities. Then I looked at her name tag. Her name was Corazon, which is Spanish for heart. Ah-ha! Filipino, I bet. As a former Spanish colony, the Philippines is filled with people who have Spanish names, but who look oriental. Corazon quickly totaled up my purchases. The whole haul came to only £9 something or other. She swiped my Tesco Club Card, so I could receive loyalty points. I next gave her my debit card, to pay. While she was utilizing that, I asked, "are you from the Philippines?"
"Yes," she answered and gave me a slightly enquiring look. I was ecstatic, as I so love being right.
"I guessed you were, because of your name," I said.
"It's Spanish," she informed me, as if I didn't know. Duh! She asked me to enter my pin. Some people say, "pin number," but since the "n" in "pin" stands for "number," saying, "pin number" is redundant.
"Oh, I have to enter a pin, do I," I said, pretending not to know.
As I keyed in the pin, she continued talking. "Have you ever been to the Philippines?"
"No," I confided, "but I have been to Guam. That's the closest."
"Guam is close," she happily agreed. Guam is just across the Philippine Sea from the Philippines, as I am sure you all know, and is also a former Spanish colony. "Do you know a lot of Filipinos?" Man, this gal seemed to wake up when I guessed where she's from. I quickly scanned her fingers. No rings.
"Not really a lot. I used to work with a guy from the Philippines, back in 1996. I haven't seen him in ten years." Then I remembered, "oh yeah, I worked with a Filipino nurse in a hospital, a couple of months ago, but she moved to California."
"A lot of Filipinos are in America," she replied. No shit.
"You get a lot more Filipinos in America than here in Britain," I said, going along with the flow. She seemed in no hurry to end the conversation, but as I had finished bagging and there were now people waiting in the line for her, I just thanked her, grabbed my shopping, and headed for the car park (parking lot, for America readers). Maybe it would be worth looking for her again. Corazon, the heart of Tesco.


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