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Sunday, 7 November 2010

My first Saturday working at Tesco.

Yesterday was the first Saturday that the new Tesco store in Beeston was open to the public and boy was it busy! Very busy!

I arrived at work at 6am and was on my meat counter at 6.10am ready for action, albeit a bit sleepy. It was my responsibility to set out the meat counter for this day’s trading and this meant creating an attractive display to Tesco’s high standards using my knowledge from the excellent training we have all received three weeks prior to opening coupled with a good visual sense and fifteen years of butchery skills from working in the meat trade in the 1970s and 1980s.

As well as setting out the display and prepping up things like the minced steak and casserole steak pieces I was also engaged in creating attractive racks of lamb and decorating them with little paper hats and stringing up boneless loins of pork to cut up into lean little joints for sale. To make the three unit meat display look good there were approximately thirty separate sections to create and replenish ready for service at 8am.

Phil and Alan
Alongside of me was my mate Paul – the fishmonger – creating his own beautiful display of fresh fish and seafood on a sparkling bed of ice with help from our manager Natasha. All of the counters displays had to be ultra nice this Saturday as some major managers were visiting the store and the all the preparation areas had to be shown as sparkling clean at the end of our preparations. No pressure then!

Paul on his excellent fish counter.
Before my first break I had to visit the big industrial chiller room at the back of the store to replenish the counter fridges and make sure that I didn’t run out of things like Willow Farm fresh chickens that are on offer at only £2.50 and were flying out, sometimes being bought four at a time. When I opened the chiller room door the space had recently had a huge delivery and it took me quite a while to find anything connected to the counters area. The act of searching around the storage trays then made me perceive myself to be well behind with my work and chasing my tail, so to speak.

rack of lamb
Time working on the counters goes amazingly quickly and although I didn’t get a break until 10.50am I was astonished to discover that nearly four hours had flown by. My colleague Alan appeared on the meat counter about 10.30am to find me whizzing around serving customers and trying to replenish the counters and clean up at the same time. It was like the proverbial cavalry had arrived and I was very pleased to see him putting on his white coat, apron and paper hat. All through this process our manager Natasha and team leader Rebecca were there supporting us and guiding us with solid advice and encouragement as well as physically helping out when needed. You could describe the day as being a foodie baptism of fire. :0)

I had my break and then came back down to the shop floor to continue a very busy working day grafting alongside Alan and operating as a real two man team. Alan is a lovely bloke and has over thirty years experience in the meat trade having run his own business with his late father in Chilwell.

Those fresh chickens on offer were hardly out on the chiller, onto the counter and into the customers’ hands before you could turn around and repeat the process again and again. Alan and I agreed that all of Beeston and Broxtowe Borough Council would be having chicken for tea last night! Oh and half price sausages!

I worked until 4.30pm and we were constantly busy on the meat counter as were our counterparts Paul and Martin on the Fish counter. I hardly had a chance to notice what was happening on the deli and cooked chickens counters. I guess they were equally as busy.

Only once, when the mincing machine decided to chew up the steak pieces to mince, did I feel tense. This was more out of frustration at myself for not getting the machine parts assembly correctly alligned. The rest of the time I felt very energised and loved serving the customers and being knowledgeable and pleasant for them. I also enjoyed being there for Alan and supporting him by doing some prep after my official finishing time of 4pm and making sure he wasn’t left with a mess to clear up.

Confucius once said that: A man who is passionate about his job never has to work another day in his life. I think that I am one of the lucky ones who is in such a position. As I write this it is now Sunday and I may be tired and aching, but I am ‘appy.


envengcat said...

Hi there,

I popped into Tesco's on opening evening (I think) and saw you behind the counter. Sorry I didn't stop for a chat - was in a rush - isn't everyone in Tesco?!

I have to say though, the counter looked very tempting, and it was nice to see a friendly professional looking face behind it!


Phil Lowe said...

How nice. Maybe you could pop over for a chat next time in Cat. Thanks for your comment. x

Dean said...

I can tell with the enthusiasm in your writing that you enjoyed the hectic day ! Thats great news im really glad you enjoyed it.
Sad that the new Tesco has the market traders in town worried though time will tell what happens on that score.

Dedene said...

I'm so glad that you found something you enjoy and that you have good mates around you.
I'm a bit intrigued, your badge says you speak German. Do you get lots of German customers?

Phil Lowe said...

Dean: My personal hope is that presence of this Tesco store will bring more folk into Beeston and help the established traders gain more custom.

Dedene. Ich weiss nicht ob es gibt viele kunden dass deutsch sprechen kann.Hoffentlich.

Gailsman said...

No Tesco chicken in my house, as I will never step foot in the store. Like Dean and many other residents of Beeston & Chilwell, I'm worried that the High Road will be a ghost town in about 6 months time. I could see that there was less footfall on Saturday.

Banlon1964 said...

A tip of the hat to you Phil for being able to keep your enthusiasm for what is obviously a grueling job.

Athina said...

'Happy for you, Phil. :)

Phil Lowe said...

Thankyou Tina xx

Phil Lowe said...

Thanks for your good wishes Anne and Austin on facebook. xx

Phil Lowe said...

GailsMan: I can only echo my response to Dean on this matter. And there was me expecting you to pop from behind the baked beans with your camera at the ready.

Michael: I am very enthusiastic about this job and I sleep very well from it! It's not that gruelling really. I was a butcher for 15 years and compared to that work it is a walk in the park - still busy though.

Anonymous said...

I do realise this post is now almost 2 years old but wow, your manager worked with you also giving advice AND encouragement? That never happens on our counters! (also Tesco here) in fact it did happen once... but I hear it was frowned upon by other department managers for one reason or another to see the counters manager actually working on the counters.