Saturday 21 July 2018

Retail Health and Safety? That’s for wimps. And people who don’t want to die

I’m living in a death trap. I could literally die at any moment.

Everything in this ridiculous ‘fur coat and no knickers’ shop seems designed to knock me out, trip me up, drench me with water, electrocute me, drench me with water and then electrocute me, whack me hard on the head or punch me in the face.

I think it’s TBE’s (aka The Boss Erratic’s) Master Plan. She’s failed so far to kill me off with dodgy plug arrangements, splintered glass and Kamikaze mannequins, but it doesn’t mean she’s stopped trying. She’s just gone bigger (I mean the death traps have gone bigger, not, err…….. but, well, OK…if that’s where your imagination take you...).

First of all there’s the ornate - heavy - Victorian display shelves. These hang just above and behind me on the wall as I stand at the serving counter. They are practical, beautiful, and balanced entirely on two small nails hammered half arsedly into the wall by guess who?

Greek Tragedy Deathtrap. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

I’d like to say in view of their obvious precariousness (obvious to me; no other bugger even thinks about it), TBE ensures that nothing hard, breakable and liable to do harm is displayed on the shelves. I’d like to say that, but I can’t. It’s like the excitable part of a Greek wedding just waiting to happen. All day every day. Right above my head.

Then there’s the large fancy oval mirrors. TBE likes these. She thinks they make money for her. They possibly would if they were around long enough to sell. But they’re not. Why? Well, let me ask you this:

What’s the safest way to display an oval mirror? On the wall? - Well, yes.

How about wedged securely on the floor between two immovable objects? - OK, I suppose.

Laid flat? - A bit rubbish but definitely safe.

So what’s TBE’s genius way to display an oval mirror?.......

Vaguely propped upright, rolling unsecured around all over the place like a top heavy Weeble. Except not like a Weeble, because the point of Weebles is they don’t fall down.

We’ve gone through so many of these sodding mirrors, but she still won’t learn.

Definitely not like a Weeble then. (I mean the oval mirrors aren’t like a Weeble. I’m comparing oval mirrors with fat, round, wobbly Weebles, not, err…….. but, well, OK…if that’s where your imagination take you...).

A Weeble. Photo, Google licence free: Steve Berry, Flikr

Then there’s the stupidly long clothes rail, attached to the wall at each end by a single screw and nowhere else, and weighed down with far too many clothes. What could possibly go wrong?

Of course it came off the sodding wall one day. Of course it dumped clothes all over the other displays and all over the floor. And of course some sad sack of a sales assistant was underneath the rail when it went.

Me. Of course.

I was left flailing around under the rail – with most of the clothes still heavily attached and attacking me - trying to keep it from crashing to the floor with one arm (it was really bloody heavy!), whilst desperately stretching out with the other arm to reach a free standing set of rails nearby, drag them over and stuff them under the wall rail to temporarily prop it up.

I did it. Eventually. But it was not a good hair day.

Photo: Google licence free: Flikr bixentro

After surveying the damage and cursing TBE (obviously), I managed to come up with a more permanent solution; a broomstick pole holding up the middle of the rail, lashed in place using half a mile of brown packing string. Sorted.

Knowing TBE as distastefully and intimately as I do, I reasoned it would probably stay like that for about a year, but to give TBE her due, it only stayed like that for about a month and a half.

What am I still doing here?

Saturday 9 June 2018

Bonding, booze and bhajis: how not to have a staff meeting

We never have staff meetings. We had one once – at my insistence. It was a terrible idea, I don’t know why I suggested it. I never will again. This is what happened:

Back in the olden days when the staff trio consisted of the ever-so-slightly volatile Colleague McDrama; the ever-so-slightly capricious TBE (aka The Boss Erratic) and lil’ old me, we developed something of a communication problem (I say ‘we’; it wasn’t me – don’t be thinking it was me. There’s no ‘me’ in ‘we’; I was still naively enthusiastic back then).

I love my job! I love my job! Picture, Maikausminga, Pixabay

Colleague McDrama would frequently complain to me about TBE. She’d complain that she felt isolated and forgotten by TBE. That she never saw TBE. That communication was only through the message book, which was rubbish because it meant TBE either brushed aside any issues McDrama raised, or completely ignored them. (Sound familiar? It’s like I was staring right at my future and I didn’t even see it).

The more McDrama pushed (via the message book), the more nasty and defensive TBE became (via the message book). Colleague McDrama was very unhappy (and a wee bit, ‘back away slowly,’ ‘hide all the knives,’ teeth spittingly angry). I urged Colleague McDrama to talk to TBE: to request a formal, face to face meeting with TBE and deal directly with the issues once and for all.

At the same time, TBE would frequently complain to me about Colleague McDrama. TBE would complain that Colleague McDrama was always moaning: moaning about feeling isolated and forgotten; moaning about never seeing TBE; moaning about only communicating through the message book. The more TBE ignored her (in the message book), the more insistent and angry McDrama became (in the message book).

TBE was very unhappy with Colleague McDrama, so I urged TBE to talk to her: to set up a formal, face to face meeting with McDrama and sort this stuff out directly, and once and for all.

Arghhh!!!. Original picture: Pixabay

Saturday 2 June 2018

How to succeed in retail: don’t be The Boss Erratic; she's rubbish

Let me tell you a story.

A story of carelessness, denial and delusion. Of negligence, irresponsibility and stupidity.

Sadly, this story is true; based on actual, eye-witness accounts and testimonies.


To tell this story effectively, I must be in character. So let me get into character…


………………….Hello. I’m TBE (aka The Boss Erratic).

I am the hero of the high street! The champion of the independent shop! And, depending on your perspective (which, if it differs from mine, is wrong), a world class skiver.

Original photo: NDE, Pixabay

Friday 27 April 2018

To hear is human, to unhear is impossible (sadly)

Consider the MAMAAs; my Middle Aged Men Always Around: those friendly but ever-so-slightly creepy men who, despite my best, ‘sod the fuck off,’ body language, persist in hanging out at the Out Of Favour (OOF) shop for much longer than is really unweird to do so (given it’s basically a women’s clothes shop).

Picture: Pixabay

I use the term, ‘middle-aged’ loosely, because in reality they range in immature years from a thirty something Ukrainian ex-prisoner with intensity issues and small-man syndrome (he’s a hoot), to an eighty-something wannabe-Jack-the-lad who cruises around in his 1950s classic car to, “impress the ladies.”

Thursday 26 April 2018

Blimey; I’ve been gone how long?!

Where the friggin’ hell have you been?! I’ve been writing and writing and posting and posting and you’re nowhere to be seen! You just disappeared!

Oh no. Hang on. That was me.

A mixture of half moving house (don’t ask), disrupted routines and sheer, leaden-arse laziness seems to have contributed to, well, nothing. No blogs, no quips, no jaw-dropping ‘this can’t really be true, can it?.. Oh god, it really is,’ stories of Shop Girl awfulness…nothing.

Well, no more. Soon there will be a story of such marvellously horrible OAP ickyness, you’ll never look at your Grandad in the same way again.


Nah, not sorry. 

Keep your eyes peeled.

Picture: Geralt, Pixabay

Saturday 24 February 2018

There ain’t no pleasing you

I like a challenge, I do. But a challenge has got to be within reason, right? Otherwise it’s just like trying to cross the Sahara on chocolate skis – or trying to stop TBE (aka The Boss Erratic) being a shit manager: it’s pointless, exhausting and doomed to failure.

Photo: Lenny Flank, Flikr

Sometimes it’s just too hard. Sometimes the challenge is too great. Sometimes that customer who’s just walked in (oh lucky me), is just too much of a mountain to climb. This is a (mostly) word for word conversation I had with one such creature the other day:

Saturday 10 February 2018

The Spy Who Loathed Me

OK, let’s start with the statistics:


  1. There are three people who work in this company: TBE (aka The Boss Erratic), Colleague Crafty and me. That’s not even enough to fill a taxi.
  2. The Out Of Favour (OOF) shop (where I work) is about twenty seconds away from the New Favourite (NF) shop (where I don’t work), which is just around the corner.
  3. Until the day both shops become self-service operations (oh, wouldn’t TBE love that: no staff [i.e. me] to whine on about employment rights), there is one of us working in each shop. That’s two thirds of the workforce hanging out within twenty seconds touching distance of each other at any one time.
  4. Given this arrangement, there is a high probability that when I am working in the OOF shop, TBE is very often just around the corner in the NF shop; twenty seconds away.
  5. That’s twenty seconds away. TBE is twenty seconds away. Very frequently.
  6. I haven’t clapped eyes on TBE for three and a half months.
  7. Three and a half months.
  8. Three and a half months is a long time.
  9. Three and a half months is at least fourteen weeks.
  10. Three and a half months is over a quarter of a year.
She’s just disappeared. Run away. Gone. Totally absent.

Saturday 3 February 2018

Some people are born with it; the rest of us are just jealous

Consider the fashionistas. Those effortlessly sartorially gifted people who waft about in unique, glamorously styled outfits, leaving a trail of awe, wonder and dropped jaws in their wake.

Well, here at the Out Of Favour (OOF) shop we are lucky to have two such marvellous creatures in our midst.

Separately, they are a truly eye-watering sight to behold; together, they are practically traffic-stopping. Literally. I have literally seen traffic screech to a halt to let these two sashay across the road (truth be told it was either that or run them over: fashion diva school clearly doesn’t cover the Green Cross Code).

Theirs is a sea of colour; a truly eye-catching conglomeration of fabric styles, patterns, textures and layers.

Such is their impact upon our little market town, they rarely venture out unaccompanied by their ‘minder’.

Friday 12 January 2018

Tea and sympathy. Without the tea. Or the sympathy

The January blues. Everybody gets them. Why wouldn’t you?: It’s grey and dull and cold and depressing outside, everybody is skint and inexplicably still post-Christmas knackered, and everyone is contemplating a Brave New World of chocolate free, joy free meals consisting entirely of lettuce spaghetti and tomato fillets (or maybe that’s just me).

So I do understand it’s a tough time of year, I really do. I sympathise with anyone feeling down, but, can I say this whilst sounding as warm-hearted and generous as I can… For Christ’s sake keep it out of the shop, it’s boring listening to you droning on, and, quite frankly, it’s bringing me down.

Picture: Images, Pixabay

Saturday 6 January 2018

How to offend everybody, without even trying

Do you want to see a magic trick? I’ll show you a magic trick. I’ll show you how to offend every single customer in the course of a day without even trying.

It’s not my fault. Well, it might be my fault, but I didn’t mean it to be my fault.

I was trying to be subtle.

It’s like this: TBE (aka The Boss Erratic) is still successfully doing a swerve on obtaining a public Performing Rights Society (PRS) licence to play music in the shop (of course she is), so I can still only play royalty free music. Royalty free music is the audio equivalent of tearing off a massively sticky plaster from a hairy limb really really slowly whilst simultaneously stubbing your toe on a hot poker (i.e. It’s eye-wateringly, brain-shockingly, painfully, dreadful).

Original photo: congerdesign, Pixabay

This has been going on for about ten months now, and this week, I thought:

No more! I rebel! I WILL play a normal CD and the consequences be damned!

Friday 22 December 2017

Oh Lord, it’s Christmas in the Out Of Favour Shop. Bah Humbug (obviously).

Oh I can’t be doing with all this Christmas giddiness. Get a grip everyone.

Firstly, all the kids are going nuts over the annual bowl of free Christmas chocolates in the Out Of Favour (OOF) shop. Calm down kids, they’re the same chocolates from last year. Literally the same chocolates (probably). They’re cheap, nasty and taste like shite. I know this because I’ve eaten most of them out of sheer boredom. Now I feel sick.

Take note kids, too much chocolate turns you into an evil psychopath. Photo: Mojpe, Pixabay

Friday 15 December 2017

TBE, Water and Glass: a Pathetic Potted History

So this week it’s all about pot plants. And glass vases. And TBE (aka The Boss Erratic). Of course.

Ah, the pot plants…..

Only TBE could make pot plants controversial (plants in pots, not the other type. Christ, if she had any of that she’d be hands-down The Most Annoying Stoner Ever. I’ve already seen her drunk, and it is not a pretty sight).

Friday 1 December 2017

MAMAA: get your shit together - and stop talking

Mr Schadenfreude Socialist is in again. He’s definitely my most frequent, and tedious, MAMAA (Middle Aged Men Always Around). He keeps banging on about his cherries. And his veg.

Apparently his cherries are bigger and more numerous than anyone else’s. And people would marvel at the size and freshness of his vegetables if only he was given the chance to show them off.

Photo: Momentmal, Pixabay

Friday 24 November 2017

A day in the life. Or: dear God rescue me from all this broken shit

Everything is broken in the Out Of Favour (OOF) shop. Everything. This is a typical day. I’m not even joking:

The front door
The door is not my friend: the lock jams and the door itself sticks. Consequently, I have to play, ‘push-me-pull-you,’ with increasing vigour - and temper - whilst hunched over the doorway like the world’s crappiest lock-picker for a five full minutes every morning. That’s every morning; for months. This does not make me happy.

The coffee machine
I turn the coffee machine on and it begins to leak. I put a dinner plate underneath to catch the drips. The machine has been leaking for, perhaps, three months now. Apparently getting an engineer to fix the thing is a ridiculously unthinkable idea (see also: Servicing/ behaving like a mature, responsible shop owner), so it just gets worse, day by day. The plate is full after twenty minutes. It is extremely important I remember to empty the plate in a timely manner, otherwise the overflow will rain down onto the OOF Shop Plug-Extension-Lead Modern Art Installation, which TBE (aka The Boss Erratic) has positioned, rather astoundingly, underneath the coffee machine.

The OOF Shop Plug-Extension-Lead-Modern-Art-Installation.
Under the coffee machine
Photo: Shop Girl Tales

This morning, the coffee machine springs two leaks instead of the usual one. Water pools all over the counter. I manage to shove a second plate underneath the newcomer leak, and then pointlessly write yet another doomed message to TBE in the message book. Then I take the liberty of swearing liberally to myself.

Friday 17 November 2017

I think you might be flogging a dead cow, love

TBE (aka The Boss Erratic) has gone bonkers.

Yes, I know, but even more bonkers than usual.

She seems to have lost her mind over a pint of milk. Well, an ex-pint of milk. Actually, a pint of milk that never was. Well it was, it just wasn’t when I found it.

Picture: creades, Pixabay

OK, let me explain properly: I threw away a pint of milk because it was off, despite it only having been bought the day before by Colleague Craft(y) for the Out Of Favour (OOF) shop cafe. Then I bought another pint to replace it.

That’s it.

I left the receipt and a little note to explain why a second pint of milk had been bought in as many days, and thought no more about it*.

*If you’re new to this blog you might reasonably assume that the purchase of two pints of milk in two days is extremely conservative for a café. Unnaturally so. And you’re right, it is. But then, you’re probably under the misapprehension that the OOF shop café is normal. It is not. Apart from anything else, it doesn’t have a working coffee machine.....

Anyway, that was the wrong thing to do, apparently.

Friday 29 September 2017

The MAMAA Returns

Right, so you all know by now that your average high frequency MAMAA (Middle Aged Man Always Around) is under the tragic misapprehension that I delight in their glittering company and, during their regretful absences, yearn for their swift return in order to hear more of their enthralling stories and wondrous escapades, right?

Given this sad state of affairs it logically follows that a long-term absentee MAMAA, returning after many months, is almost bleedin’ unbearable.

MAMAA Yorkshire Casanova, turned up yesterday (calm down, he’s really not worth your hopeful imagination).
No....... Photo: skeeze, Pixabay.

Friday 22 September 2017

Say what now?

Call me old fashioned, but I am of the mind that a conversation should really make sense to both parties taking part. Isn’t it just plain rudeness for one party to carry on regardless of the obvious slack-jawed confusion playing about the face of their fellow conversationalist?

Here’s a tip: if the person standing in front of you looks massively puzzled and clearly has no idea what you're banging on about, stop bloody talking gibberish. 

Try to actually make sense. 

I know it takes some effort, but for the love of god, take a good look at yourself and reign it in. Don’t witter lazily away, zig-zagging this way and that like some self-absorbed linguistic equivalent of a downhill skier on a freshly snowed-on black run. 

Give us all a break, no one should have to work so hard. 

Saturday 16 September 2017

The topiary trees and the customers: a cautionary tale

Why is everything TBE (aka The Boss Erratic) does the retail equivalent of wearing a fur coat and no knickers? It looks good on the surface, (if you like that sort of thing), but underneath it’s all total disorganised carnage.

(OK, probably best to pop a quick note in here: I have no idea what your nether regions look like, and I’m certainly not saying that everyone’s knickerless loveliness is disorganised carnage. I mean, it might be, but that’s your business, not mine. No, this is simply a metaphor for how generally shit TBE is about the stuff behind the gorgeous image. But you get that, don’t you?).

Definitely best kept covered........Photo: Shop Girl Tales.

So, the latest idea is two 5ft high, puffball shaped topiary trees, one either side of the doorway to the Out Of Favour (OOF) shop.

I can’t deny they look gorgeous. I can’t deny they make the tatty outside of the shop look attractive. And I can’t deny the customers really like them.

Unfortunately, so do the wasps.

Tuesday 22 August 2017

Another nail in the Coffee Coffin...

The coffee machine has basically had it. I think it’s seen what a clusterfuck the Out Of Favour shop has become and has decided to slowly shut itself down in order to escape.

Picture:kerttu, Pixaby

The latest bit to go on strike is the steam/ milk frother spout.

For those of you happily uninitiated in the ways of barista-ism, there are three, ‘stick your cup under,’ parts on even the most basic commercial coffee machines, (which, of course, is what the Out Of Favour shop has):

1) The circular bit that grabs onto the big spoon thingy full of ground coffee, and filters hot water through it; 2) The hot water spout – like a kettle, only posher; 3) The steam spout – for frothing milk and generally burning your hands.

The steam spout is pretty much essential. Without it there is no frothy milk – and no frothy milk means no cappuccinos and lattes.

Obviously, not having a working frothy spout thing is a fairly massive problem for a coffee shop, and in any normal shop, with a normal boss, it would cause panic and an undignified scrabble to get it fixed as soon as possible.

But I don’t work for a normal boss. I work for The Boss Erratic (TBE), and clearly she doesn’t see this as the problem I do.

Friday 11 August 2017

Clueless conversations and mysterious MAMAAs

Skills are great, aren’t they? Who doesn’t love a skill? And who can think badly of a workplace that develops and nurtures skills?

Working in the Out Of Favour Shop, for example, has allowed me to develop the, frankly, amazing skill of successfully holding a lengthy conversation with someone without having the first clue what we’re talking about.

"Hi there, I'm fascinating." Original image: Prawny, Pixabay