While in Tesco, The Parade, Leamington, last night I walked up to the fresh bread section which was chock full of unsold, unsliced loaves.
“Can you slice this for me?” I asked the staff member nearby.
“Sorry, I don’t know how to. I can try and find someone else if you like.”
I said it didn’t matter and then got a pre-sliced one.
Fairly mundane and boring until two minutes later she took some big, pink rubbish bags marked “not for human consumption” and began to stuff the loaf I’d been thinking of buying, and all the others into them one at a time.
I asked her what she was doing and she said that at a certain time each night, all the unsold bread has to be thrown away.
It cannot be sold at a discount. It cannot be given away.
Realising she was simply following orders I hunted out the store manager who said that it is Tesco policy not to reduce the price or give the bread away. It has to be chucked into the bin.
I mentioned that outside both front and back store entrances were two homeless bums**, sitting in the pouring rain begging for change. Why not give the loaves to them?
“Sorry, I can’t. I’d like to but I can’t. Tesco policy,” he said looking a bit embarrassed.
About 4 days later a pal of mine (well a Facebook friend that I used to chat to while perusing the breakfast cereal aisle) who works in that very same branch of Tesco not only dropped me off her friends’ list, but also blocked me from being able to see her on Facebook at all. I only knew this because she sent me a Friend request. Thinking it was odd, I clicked the link only to find myself floating in the limbo of “Page Not Found”.
Putting 2 and 2 together, I came up with the answer that she had obviously read my letter, had possibly had a meeting with management where the staff were told that the letter had been printed and that they were VERY annoyed about it.
I guessed that she was fuming that I’d put her job at risk and was determined not to speak to me ever again.
More than that she had activated Defcon 1 by Unfriending me and in her haste had acidentally then pressed the "Add as a Friend" button on the way out.
Finally to erase all evidence of her former Facebook Friendship with me, she had blocked me. A veritable retcon of our once a week, Weetabix and porridge related chats.
I didn’t go back to the store on principle. Now I had a car I could drive to Lidl, Sainsbury’s or a more tramp –friendly supermarket.
At least…that’s what I told myself.
For about a month I was doing it for that reason. My pissed off-ness at their corporate indifference to the hunger of the great unwashed was enough to drive me over to Nectar from Clubcard.
But later it simply became that I feared being ignored or even glared at by a 9 stone, 25 year old woman who might be so horrid as to….dislike me.***
Finally, last week I thought “cutting off nose to spite face” and marched back into the store, confidently lobbing salads and microwaveable rice into my wheely basket. I saw her as I walked past the milk section and she gave me a quick “Oh hi” and then walked on. Having a history of paranoia I assumed this was a startled salutation as she was surprised to see me in the store after my vitriolic letter in the paper and was trying to be professional by being polite.
A few days later I was in again and she was in the cereal aisle, pricing up some pop tarts. I ignored her and she suddenly went:
“Oh hi, how are you? You been away? Haven’t seen you in a while.”
I looked up and she was smiling brightly. I smiled back and then said “Thought you weren’t speaking to me.”
She looked puzzled and went “What for?”
I smiled knowingly, believing this to be a façade and replied “You not only Unfriended me but blocked me on Facebook. You remember? After my letter was published.”
She pondered for a second then went “Oh, that happened to all my friends. I closed my account. Lots of people wondered what had happened. And what letter? I didn’t know you’d written one. Never saw it.”
Bottom line is that due to the lack of any human interaction in her vanishing from Facebook I had drawn my own conclusions based on a mixture of evidence (the letter being a few days before she did this), my own fragile ego and my own rather splendid case of paranoia.
Big problem with texts, social networks and the Internet in general is that we draw our own conclusions as to exactly what people meant.
In this case, nothing was meant. But I made it mean a whole lot of things.
All of them wrong.
** In the paper they changed this to "people" as calling an unwashed, smelly tramp a "bum" is too offensive...I assume again.
*** Fact she's cute and I'd like to shag her also contributed hugely.