Thursday, May 13, 2004

Come Away With Me 

The girl at the checkout ran the item through the barcode scanner, paused, examined the item, then the scanner, and then repeated all of the above.
“It says it’s only one pence, so that’s what I’m going to charge you.”
“That’s very kind of you. Thanks,” I said.
“You won’t tell the manager, will you?”
“No I won’t.”
Then everything went all wavy, and I had a flashback to my youth.
“It is possible though,” I added with a wry smile, “that I could be The Mystery Shopper.”
She looked at me with a blank stare.
I might as well have said “My name is Zog, Lord of the Universe, and you are my chosen one. Come away with me. I know a quiet place where we can breed.”

When I was a young pup, I took a job in Kentucky Fried Chicken. The manager kept his staff in a state of constant anxiety with his unnerving tales of The Mystery Shopper.
“You must always be on your guard. You never know what form they might take, or when they could strike.”
Mystery Shoppers were (and likely still are) members of the public randomly asked to make purchases by crack teams of KFC Quality Controllers. They would report back to the Quality Controllers, who would be waiting around the corner in a blacked out van, on how long it took for them to be served, how clean the place was, whether the staff were friendly, and so forth. The Quality Controllers would measure the temperature of the food, and do other Quality Control related stuff to it.
Presumably if anything was less than satisfactory, the managers of the stores, who were all franchisees, would receive a rocket, and so in turn would their staff. It never happened in my brief spell there.

It seems that Supermarket X doesn’t employ Mystery Shoppers, or if it does, the girl at the checkout hadn’t heard about it.
She just gawped pitifully at me, open mouthed, probably thinking that I was some sad fantasist who spends too long on the Internet.

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