18 January 2009


A quick aside. Hips Don't Lie confronted me on the TV the other night, and I noticed that Shakira seems to be running through a room of mosquito nets - really nice ones like the expat girl had when we went to Dakar for WAIST (West African Invitational Softball Tournament). I couldn't tell if Shakira's also had sequins...

A few months ago (12 weeks to be exact - I just had my review!) I started a part-time job to help pay the bills. So three evenings a week I stock shelves in a supermarket cum big box store.

The work is relatively painless as most of the customers are cordial, and I've thus far avoided being trained to work checkouts so mostly operate in my own little world, with occasional reminders that we need to get through the dairy/meat backstock.

The chain gives us prescribed space to show our individuality on our nametags, where you can have a piece of clipart (the beer/wine ones are only available to employees over 18) and a fact about you listed. I went for a basketball but, as it was not on the list of languages, "I speak Wolof" did not make it onto the badge. Other entertaining features are the random searches, our clocking in/out cards (with the Orwellian phrase "Supporting Your Attendance" emblazoned across it), and weekly briefings where I learn how much money we've made and the value of products which are 'wasted' (it all goes straight into the compactor instead of being given away).

All told it's not a terrible place to make a few extra Pounds, although I am bewildered by the fact that we have literally hundreds of types of yoghurt available. My coworkers are all pretty nice, although the teenage boys never seem to do any work at all. Plus at the end of the shift I sometimes manage to sample some nicer items when they've been reduced in price as they approach their due date. And the work's not too mentally taxing.

There's all manner of formal avenues of communication, from the weekly status reports, surveys and so forth. So at the 12 week review my major input was to request that we get better newspapers in the staff room, perhaps even the Economist. My manager wasn't very encouraging but did say he'd put in a word with the higher-ups.