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Open Features: Second Day At Sainsbury’s

Will that scamp David Langton be a success at Sainsbury's? Read Derek McQueen's account of what happened on David's second day at work - then judge for yourself.

To read more of Derek's hugely entertaining tales please click on
http://www.openwriting.com/cgi-bin/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&search=Derek+McQueen

David Langton, Dave to his mates, was a bit of a handful at school, to say
the least. Langton had the highest number of detentions in Hill Mount
Secondary Modern’s thirty-seven year history. He had narrowly missed
exclusion a remarkable seven times. Walking on the top of every car in the
staff car park was for him one of the disciplinary highlights of the past four
years.

His final escapade, before the head and staff breathed a sigh of relief,
when he left, was to bring the school canteen to a grubbing halt. Dave had
always believed school to be a battleground and he decided that some
special prank was called for on his sixteenth birthday. Six juicy maggots,
purloined from Jim, his fisherman brother, were stowed away in a pencil
case in his school backpack. He was hoping that they would still be
wriggling at lunchtime.

It was 12-15 and the din and smell of cabbage and chips, signalled dinners
were in full swing in the Hill Mount dining hall. Langdon had no sooner
collected his favourite meal of burger and chips than he was back at the
counter, to offer up his plate of scarcely touched food for Mrs Brown’s
inspection.

“Ave just found these in my burger miss,” Langton whined. “They just
crawled out from under the breadcake like. Can I ‘ave summat else
instead? I can’t eat this.”

Ethel Brown knew David Langton of old, but his distress did seem genuine
and the weather had been very warm for the time of year. The risk was too
great. Ethel had no option but to recommend to Mr Wainright, head of
school, that the canteen be closed.

“This is not one of your stupid pranks Langton is it?” Fred Wainright said,
peering over his glasses at the offending platter. Disgust and disbelief were
written all over his face in equal measure. Struggling to be heard above
the racket, he bawled at the sixty innocents still eating.

“Those of you who have a burger for lunch, please stop eating right away.
I suggest that you eat your puddings and leave the main meal. Mrs Brown
will be handing out chocolate biscuits if any of you are still hungry. Please
tell your mothers to let you bring sandwiches for the next few days.”

It took a week for the health and hygiene people to clear the kitchens for
normal use. They failed to find further maggots.

On Friday afternoon, Langton walked down the Hill Mount drive for the last
time. The smirk on his face said it all.

By some miracle, Langton had managed to get a job at Sainsbury’s. It was
a new apprenticeship scheme the company was trialling as part of a
government initiative. The Assistant Manager, Ted Wallis, who interviewed
him, saw something in the boy that had eluded the Hill Mount hierarchy.

As far as David was concerned, he had won his battle at Hill Mount; now
he was ready to face the world of work, and earn some money for the
racing bike he had set his heart on.

“You’ll be working for Fred on the car park for the first month,” Mr Wallis
said. “You’ll be collecting trolleys and returning them to the store area on
the first floor. We use a ‘travelator’ for that; it’s an escalator without steps
really. Don’t worry son, Fred will put you right, he’s been with us a long
time.”

*

David worked well with Fred on his first day. Between them, they moved
one thousand two hundred and seventy-two trolleys from the car park to
the store in the 7-hour shift. Fred was impressed.

On David’s second day, Fred left him in charge for twenty minutes while he
took his morning break.

“If you need me, I’ll be in the canteen. Keep an eye on the ‘travelator’, it
stopped twice last week but don’t worry about it.”

Sod’s Law was at work, no sooner had Fred disappeared, than the
travelator ground to a halt. An elderly customer, with tightly permed grey
hair and wearing a pale blue anorak, was trying to push her, fully laden
trolley, down the ramp. She wasn’t succeeding. Dave rushed across to
assist.

“Excuse me love,” he said. “You know the down travelator isn’t travelling
do you?”

“Sorry?” tight perm said in a haughty voice. She was hanging on to her
trolley for dear life.

“At the moment this travelator’s stopped. It’s stuck love,” David explained.
“You can’t shove a trolley down it love. The wheels stick when it’s not
moving. I really think you have too many boxes of Stella. It’s too much
weight for one trolley, in my opinion.”

“It’s on special offer,” ‘tight perm’ said. “We have a lot of visitors at
Christmas and it’s two boxes for the price of one this week. Any road up,
why don’t you mind your own damn business young man?”

She was beginning to lose it.

“Who asked for your wretched opinion anyway?” she went on.

“I work here love. Fred’s left me in charge. Hold on, I’m just going to
reset the safety button,” Dave said.

The travelator began to move slowly downwards. ‘Tight perm’ glared and
straightened her groaning trolley ready to get off. A minute later, there was
an ominous grinding sound. The travelator had stopped again; she was two
trolley lengths from the bottom.

‘Tight perm’ was apoplectic.

“I’ve got seven trifles to make this afternoon. If I ever get home again that
is,” she sobbed.

Dave was determined to please. Fred had said it was very important.

“Sherry and custard trifles are on special offer love. Buy one, second one
half price. I’ll have the other one if you only want seven. It’s a favourite of
mine trifle. Mind you, my mother prefers Aldi. Their Christmas puddings
are very good as well.”

Dave was still droning on when Fred got back from his break.

“How’s it been Dave,” Fred said.

“Absolutely great Fred, no worries.”

*



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