Bag it And Drag It

We are just in the throes in Western Australia of a politically-correct scheme to remove plastic bags from supermarkets. All hail the dawn of the eco-revolution.

Well, as with any good revolution, you have mensheviks and bolsheviks and cossacks and armoured trains, and this one is no different. The two regiments that have taken the field first off are the Queens Own Hypocrites and the Bullshit Hussars.

a. The two major competing supermarket chains – divisions  of mega corporations – will institute the bans within two weeks of each other. There will be trumpeting and photo opportunities, no doubt.

b. The independent grocers are still handing out the purchases in bags for now.

c. The Big Two – Tweedledum and Tweedledee are offering to sell reusable bags for several dollars or—wait for it—plastic bags as before, but for a price. You still get to apparently ruin the planet, but they make an additional profit on it.

d. As yet there is no charge for the use of the steel cage trolley in the Big Two…but wait for it to occur to their accountants. Another independent grocer does charge a coin fee for use of the trolley but refunds the coin once the trolley is racked back in the store.

e. Confusion will reign supreme tonight as people encounter the one chain’s policy and this will extend to the other chain in two weeks. There will be words, and many of them will be Anglo-Saxon.

f. The independent grocery chain who introduces paper bags or continues plastic ones at no additional charge – and advertises the fact unashamedly will experience a surge of people switching over to their stores. They are smaller spaces than the big two but they can make a motzah in the next few months if they play their cards right.

I shall cope by experimentation. I’ll take some cloth bags with me to the store and place them at the front of the conveyor belt as I lay the groceries out. I shall be curious to see whether the checkout clerk then fills those cloth bags and hands them over to me to put back in the trolley for the journey to the car. If they don’t, I don’t pay till they do.

Note: I do not use self-serve checkout ever.

Or I’ll try the experiment of putting several plastic tubs in the car boot. I’ll just re-trolley the goods as they are checked through the till and then transfer them to the tubs in the car.

Or I’ll shift my business to the smaller supermarket and leave the big two to stew in it.


Good Morning, Sir. How May I Hell You?

Everyone should work retail at some point in their lives.

Indeed, I’ll go further than that – they should also, at some point:

a. Work personal service – wait tables, attend a public desk, man the complaints counter.

b. Work publicity. Write copy, draw illustration, serve at a promo show. Think up the bullshit and then have to spread it…

c. Work in dirt. Even if it is just a personal garden, everyone should work in dirt until they get a good result.

d. Work in a position that is monitored by a jealous and vindictive overseer. This may be a person or a professional board.

e. Work in a workshop. Whatever they produce makes no difference – it will cement their character if they can eventually do it well.

f. Work to a deadline. And fail once, and then succeed once, to know the difference in the way it feels.

g. Work to a financial bottom line. Unless they have had to watch the pennies, they’ll never know how to accumulate the pounds.

h. Work in a job where they were in command. Command of the job and command of other people.

If they have done all or most of these things, they are well-rounded individuals. But they mustn’t get cocky – so is the Michelin Man. And he gets tyred sometimes…

No… back to the topic. People who vault to command without ever experiencing the reality of work live in an unreal world and make false decisions. People who never rise also never see what command should be – there is always a battle between them and others that is detrimental to business. There needs to be a shared experience to share in effective management and effective employment.



The New Automatic Checkout Vs The Old Manual Customer

It’s fair to guess that if you eat cereal for breakfast you bought it in a grocery store. If it was a standard supermarket like Aldi where you pick it off the rack and throw it into your trolley with the washing detergent, sausages, and arc welder ( Ask me about Wednesday at Aldi…) you put it on the conveyor, paid the checkout person for it, and lugged it home.

If you went to one of the bigger retail supermarkets, however, you might have been tempted or forced to try checking the stuff through yourself on a robot section. You pass things over or under a scanner – under the cold eye of a suspicious staff member – and then pay for what seems to be the total with your credit card. Then you bag it and lug it away. You also take away other things:

a. The thought that you have been forced to do the work of the normal staff in the store. For free, but under the suspicion of that staff member.

b. The thought that the total may not have been correct – and you’ve not had time or wit enough to detect it.

c. The thought that you have, yet again, given the supermarket chain and anyone to whom they wish to show the data a record of your purchases and your money.

d. The thought that the robot checkout cheats an Australian out of a job.

Any wonder why I deal mostly with my local IGA -a smaller chain that has slightly higher prices but employs three good checkout people at the front of the store to do the actual business. And I’ll be dealing more with Aldi  in the future too – if I can figure out what it is that they actually sell…

I also noted on a visit to IKEA that the robot section was empty while we all waited patiently to go through the regular tills. The people operating them are cheerful and highly efficient and the process goes smoothly. Indeed the lady at the food counter is  always happy and her mood is infectious.



Sign In To The BGA Store…

If you want to read what I have written about YOU…you’ll have to sign up for the subscription to the app to open the program that will give you access to the link to the page that contains the details of the thing that you won’t believe.

And we have a store where you can buy a tee-shirt with the instructions on how to do this printed on the back. And you also get a newsletter and a bookmark and a folding fan.

The fan, a Mr. Marco Gonzalves, will arrive in a small box with air holes. Just snip the string, pour a cup of cold water through the conveniently located EZY-SQUEEZ spout  and place it on a level surface. You’ll want to clear a 1.5 metre space around the box as Mr. Gonzalves may unfold in any direction.

Remember that we accept all major credit cards, EFTPOS debit cards, cheques, cash, coupons, trading stamps, beaver pelts, and first-born children in payment for the BGA goods. In the case of the children no change will be given.

Who could have guessed that on-line trading could be so much fun? Certainly not the people in the average warehouse or shop who have had to implement the new rules of commerce as dreamed up by multi-national corporations. Fortunately there are approximately 86,000 on-line computer retail systems available to enable the customers to remain on hold until a customer service representative answers.

In many cases this period of time is sufficiently long for the company to advertise, interview, and hire the person who eventually clicks onto the line. Customers who have been waiting should consider amusing themselves in the meantime by watching the glacier races – them big cold buggers just whizz by…Eventually there will be a real person to talk to on the end of the line and even if that line ends somewhere north of Dacca, at least they are not a robot. Because robots wouldn’t work for what the telcos pay…

The most comforting thing about on-line shopping is that you can get your goods completely untouched by human hands. Automatic pickers and packers in the electronic warehouses will read the order, roll directly to the rack where it has been stored badly, and crush it. None of the fragments will have fingerprints on them. You can’t get much fresher than that…

Note: I am cynical without foundation. An order to Metro Hobbies in Melbourne was sorted out today by a very pleasant and efficient young lady in their Box Hill store. They are a good firm to deal with.


The Old Coot Network

The Old Coot Network is different from the Old Boy Network in several ways – and is probably similar to the relationship between the Old Dear Network and the Old Girl Network. I’m not sure if the differences are based upon nationality  but I’ll bet they have something to do with class.

Old Boys and Old Girls are traditionally former classmates at a private school. The Old Coots and Old Dears are from further down the market. But it does not stop them from being equally useful.

Take this week – I was concerned about the health and safety of this computer and called at the local Apple store to discuss it. I was handed from the greeter to a very attractive young woman with startling eyelashes and given time to ask my questions…but was immediately assured that they were groundless fears and that I really should toddle off. To help me toddle I was given the telephone number of the Apple Care help desk.

My net investigations then suggested that the Apple Care desk probably wouldn’t – at least not until I paid them some undetermined fee.

So it was on to the Old Coot Network – the people in my former trade that actually deal in and with Apple products for photographers’ use. They were more than happy to discuss my worries and to provide guidance toward a couple of anti-virus and anti-malware programs – the same ones they use for their photographic business. I came home, did as I was bid, and finally got the reassurance that all was well.

I am now curious to see whether it was beyond the policy of the Apple store to make the same recommendation or to tell me of their own, similar, product. I shall call at another store in their chain before I make any further judgement.


” This One Is Named Henry…”

I stood behind myself in Bunnings today and I am very proud to say that I did not kick myself in the arse. The fact that I was wearing thongs would not have made a difference – for a while there I was prepared to break a toe if need be.

It was the oak strip and mdf board aisle – the one down the back near the waste bins. I rounded the corner at a fast lope looking for two sheets of 3mm 1200 x 900 mdf to make an airport hard stand ( As you do…) and was brought to screeching halt by me. I was blocking the aisle with a Bunnings trolley and carefully selecting the most suitable oak strips and mdf boards for my project. I have no idea what my project is.

In case this all sounds too mysterious for words, consider that we all have a doppelganger somewhere – that we generally never meet. In most cases the doppelganger looks like us, and all who see them can recognise the fact. I my case the chap picking out the wood was nothing like me in appearance, but exactly like me in actions.

I could see him eyeing every piece of wood to find out whether it was straight or twisted – not really a thing with short lengths of oak and flat sheets of mdf. Then scanning each piece from either end about half a dozen times and then going back to consult a paper list pulled from his pocket. This went on for a dozen bits of wood, and the list went back into the pocket and came out again a dozen times.

I was surprised that he did not pull out a carpenter’s square and/or ruler to check whether the dimensions listed on the price tag were accurate.

I just sat on the big stack of marine ply and watched…and waited. I kept a pleasant smile upon my face and thought about happy things. For what seemed like 12 hours. When he finally decided that he had enough wood, he slowly pushed the trolley away. I brushed off  the spider webs and lichen that had been growing on me, dived for the mdf shelf and grabbed two pieces.

I’m not a vindictive man. Or a rude one. But I could see what was going to happen if he hit the cash register before me…so I literally flew down the side aisles to beat him to it. I may have been a bit precipitate, as I could hear an avalanche of hammers and wood clamps falling behind in my wake, but I made it in time. I got through the till before he arrived with his list.

I cannot say whether I will be a different shopper in the future, but I will at least look over my shoulder and let other foursomes play through while I consider the fall of the green.

The Bunnings Phenomenon

I’ve written of Bunnings before – the local Australian version of the DIY shop or Home Depot. It is undoubtedly like other shops in other countries in that it sells nails and plumbing fittings, but in other respects it is wholly our own.

The first time I cottoned on to this was on World Talk Like A Pirate Day. All the staff dressed up as pirates – and we’re talking about senior citizen employees as well as junior staff – and talked like pirates. It was a bit disconcerting, when all I went in for was a can of spray paint, to see hardware clerks rolling their Rrrrrr’ses early in the morning…

Today they supplemented the standard sausage sizzle stand that parks out front of the place with Christmas cupcakes. I have no idea whether these are a commercial product or fundraiser’s specials, but I do salute the imagination that used a pretzel for the reindeer horns…

One cake is missing. Not my fault.