I hadn't reckoned on writing this post. I have, through other commitments, got in the habit of writing only every five or six days. Then granddaughter Angelina forgot to take her coat to school and who gets a phone call, granddad of course! She regularly forgets things, Angelina, mother calls it her Stevens gene. So off we, my wife and I drive, plus coat to the school three miles away. What, after all are granddads for!
We took the opportunity to call in the local Tesco in Mickleover. It was a bitterly cold morning, dark, gloomy and raining. At the roadside outside, near the entrance stood a 'Big Issue' seller; a middle aged lady, perhaps younger due to life's stresses. I approached her and explained, somewhat apologetically, I had bought one near Blackpool very recently from a Romanian gentleman. The ladies English was very limited, but she recognised the name Blackpool. 'Ah,' she said, quite excited, 'he my brother.' Evidently she had travelled from Birmingham to stand in Derby's rain.
I suggested she stand under cover. 'No, she replied, 'it private.'
We communicated as best we could, I shook her hand and went in the shop.
I sought out a staff member and asked was it necessary for the lady outside to stand in the rain. If not allowed in the shop, a covered area nearby would have been a drier, if not warmer alternative. The young staff member was sympathetic and directed me to Customer Services. I found the required counter and asked if it was possible to speak to a duty manager concerning the lady outside. And boy, did 'officialdom' kick in. No, I couldn't, and no the person outside shouldn't be there. Evidently Tesco issue some sort of permit, she hadn't got one and that was that.
I felt ashamed to be British. You missed the point completely. Rules, regulations, so what. People matter more, all people.That the store is full of Christmas merchandise, tough. That the person was cold and wet, 'hard cheese', presumably Romanian street sellers have neither rights nor feelings.
I was amazed at the response in someone comparatively young. The lack of concern for others who, though low in the pecking order of British life, are still human beings; what have we become.
Are such people so enveloped in the Tesco culture of profit and dominance that they have lost sight of basic decencies. Tesco, please don't shout from the rooftops all you do for communities. There's always an ultimate motive. If you want to be loved, instill in all, not just some of your staff GENUINE compassion, not a superficial 'Be polite to customers and that will do' syndrome.
I was angry, shocked, saddened, you name it. And whilst I was having my 'difference of opinion' with 'officialdom' an interesting thing happened. A well dressed lady customer heard my vehement protest and decided to add her 'halfpennyworth'.
'They shouldn't be here' she stated emphatically. 'You should fetch the police and move her on.'
'There you are,' said Customers Services' triumphantly, not all OUR customers agree with you.'
Have they no idea as to how the Big Issue system works. Happy Christmas, ladies. Mind you, I reckon Mickleover, mainly affluent Mickleover always was a 'fur coat and no knickers' sort of place. I asked for Tesco's head office number and walked off, definitely not amused.
I left the place fifteen minutes later. The rain continued to howl down. Outside my Romanian friend was still there. And lo and behold, the Lord had partly answered my prayer. No, the place was still standing and no-one had been struck dead. But the Romanian lady now sported a brightly coloured umbrella. I smiled and pointed to the umbrella.
'From inside' she said, 'I have to take back.'
We talked again briefly, I gave her a pound coin, she gave me her blessing and I went on my way.
Someone had had second thoughts after my little 'discussion'. I trust it was for compassionate reasons and not to 'cover their back' in case I rang head office. I shan't do so, I cannot see it achieving anything, sadly. I am sorry for returning to the subject of this post in a way. But the incident caused me great anxiety during the night. All you people out there, what do you think?