I had some more training this week. Not exactly challenging but an extra £5.40 and a chocolate bar for coming in an hour early seemed a reasonable deal to me. Training always appears to follow two scripts. There is the official patter. That is the carefully wrought brainwash that is supposed to align your psyche along productive lines. Believe me on this one, I’ve studied business psychology, companies take it very seriously. Then there’s the subtext. The unguarded or carefully transmitted information which is how you learn to survive the former. Trainers who are from within the company are seams of golddust in this respect. And this trainer made one particularly telling comment, “yes, working in a supermarket you are second class citizens”.

Now thats pretty blunt. And that is how a lot of the girls I work with feel. Fortunately few, there are customers who know that they can come in and dump whatever shitty day they are having at the checkout and do so. Short of actual physical abuse (and perhaps including it, thats a territory I’d rather not explore) they can do what they like. Ooh the power of it! Checkout people develop their own ways of dealing with this. One girl says that the more the unreasonable the customer the more she smiles and the more sweetly she apologises. Naturally this has the desired effect of seriously pissing off a bullying customer. And its almost impossible to frame a complaint over “she was trying really hard to help and smiling at me.”

I tend to take the view that I know who I am and what I am worth. And this really doesn’t depend at all on the oik on the customer side of the till. Similarly the only person who is diminished by an attempt to bully me is the person making the attempt. So I don’t engage in the game playing. I try to help them and just let it go. My life is far too short to waste. I feel the same when I deal with the rather larger number of customers who have an air of condescending superiority. And the faster I pack their bags the sooner they will be out of my life and I will be chatting to someone who is more interesting. But the moment you let your job become the source of your self esteem and anything other than your pay your motivation, is the moment you betray your own interests to corporate hogwash. Whatever the trainers say.