Something very important occurred to me. Well it is of no importance to anyone but me, really. Unless you are one of those the Demonic Auditor might be coming for in the future. I put it in my Christmas email to the companies and individuals I have worked for in the past and hope to work for again in the future.
This must be my last year of Local Shop’s Christmas madness. The lunacy I have to put up with has become irritating. It really is not that hard to organise because the customers are as easily herded as sheep if it’s done right. You don’t need to promote at this time of year. You just make it available and they’ll buy it.
Anyway, here is a snippet (edited) of my Christmas message to the businesses who pretty much deserted me when the recession hit. My price has gone up.
I’m still working in [Local Shop] for [Secret Ninja Cleaners] but have no desire to climb the ladder in either organisation. Both places are run by idiots all the way to the top as far as I can see. Food wastage is shocking. I expect it’s the same in all food shops but at Local Shop prices it hurts more. This, I have decided, is my last Christmas of trying to keep the place sane and stop the managers having panic attacks. Time to move on. They have now reached the stage of a 100% pass at cleaning audit, the only Local Shop in Scotland to do so, I hear. They know what to do now, they don’t need me any more.
It occurred to me that I now have something that might well be unique. During decades of learning and lecturing on the theory behind food spoilage, food borne disease, food poisoning, food preservation and storage and so on, I still had no practical experience of it – nothing to tell me why those poisoning outbreaks occurred. The procedures in place in all food shops should make such outbreaks impossible. That’s what any career scientist would think.
After two years at the sharp end of retail, I have now been able to observe how those regulations are applied and to be honest, it’s like developing a piece of complex technology and letting a band of monkeys play with it. They might understand what they have to do, but they have no idea of why. So they see no reason to take it seriously.
It’s not just the base staff. Most of them are fresh out of school and some are even still at school. Even the managers seem to have no idea of why those regulations are in place.
I have seen one member of staff, on the tills, taken ill. She had to rush back to the staff toilets to throw up. Clearly she had some kind of intestinal disorder and quite possibly an infection. Sudden-onset vomiting with no other symptoms made me think it was probably viral. They let her rest in the staff room for a while and then sent her back to the tills. Where she scanned food items and weighed loose fruit and veg. Well, she did for a while, until she had to go and throw up again and was finally allowed to go home.
I have seen numerous people arrive at work with the squits. They tried to phone in sick but were persuaded to come to work by managers. Whereupon they proceeded to infect the staff toilets and anything else they touched. I never buy anything in this shop. I’m just glad to be the one in charge of the disinfectant.
In addition to those years of theory, I can now see why the carefully plotted measures to prevent food poisoning outbreaks fail. There is nothing wrong with the measures. There’s really nothing wrong with the staff. It’s that the staff are told what to do but not why they have to do it. Corners get cut, people who should be advised to stay well away from any food source are pushed into working, expiry-date checks get skipped, and much more. It’s been a real eye-opener and I’m now very glad I did it.
Few of the staff know my qualifications, including the management. If they did they’d probably suspect me of being a Helistrat spy! I’ll tell them when I leave.
So, now I have the sharp-end knowledge of how cleaning and food safety rules are applied (when they are actually applied!) as well as the theory behind those rules. I have seen how the rules can be, and are, circumvented and sometimes ignored. Those mysterious food poisoning outbreaks that seem to have no traceable cause are no longer a mystery.
I will not tell Local Shop how to up their game at janitor prices. I will not tell them how to bust Helistrat audits (I looked at their website and they are management-speak idiots too) at this pay level. That stuff costs more. A lot more.
In the coming year I might well make a comeback as a serious microbiologist. Or I might do it for free for small companies I like just so I don’t have to pay tax.
Besides, the small companies need the likes of me to help them survive the EU-driven big-company preferences.
And I don’t need all that much money any more. I have simple needs.