Thursday, 18 November 2010

Deja vu, Deja vu, Deja vu.

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.'
Ignorance personified.
'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?


the fly in the web said...

A dreadful reaction from the Tesco staff to whom you spoke.

The woman is doing no harm, causing no obstruction, and given what I remember of Tesco stores there would be plenty of space for her somewhere in the entrance.

What a sad day for society when this attitude prevails.

Rosalind Adam said...

What a heart-warming ending. I'm so glad that someone had enough compassion to provide the lady with an umbrella.

Daphne said...

There always seem to be people collecting in the Tesco store that I go to - - presumably THEY have permits. Sighhhh.

Clifford James said...

On a slightly different note, I just thought I'd let you know that we've reviewed your blog over at Clifford James - (

Nota Bene said...

Well done...the world would be a better place if officialdom was replaced by the human touch!

Anonymous said...

Good post once again Mr. Grumpy. About those "coins?" Donation is not by force it's according to your will. Hahaha. People are so bunch of complaints but they cannot show their grievances at the poll once election time. Vox Populi Vox Dei. How many people. How many Gods?

Expat mum said...

That sort of things always shakes me up a bit. I don't always give money as there are so many either selling the equivalent "Streetwise" here or just pan-handling, but I try not to be dismissive. Having a friend who works at the House of Commons in the Housing bit, I have heard far too many stories of how normal, upstanding people become homeless.

GrumpyRN said...

May I give an opposite opinion with an illustration?
A lady who we meet in our club occasionally does voluntary work in the cancer ward of our local hospital. Part of her duties is to go round the ward and give the patients a cup of tea in the afternoons. She complained to me that the sister in charge of the ward had told her not to give relatives a cup of tea and she was unhappy with this. She felt that if she had tea going then why not hand it out? She was a bit miffed when I told her that I agreed with the sister and I too would have stopped her giving out teas to relatives. The reasons I gave were that
a) there are only a limited number of cups on the ward so there is a risk of running out before the tea round is finished (cups have to be washed in a dishwasher, not a sink).
b) if tea is being given to everyone then it is possible to run out of tea before the end of the round.
c) time constraints, giving tea to 50-60 people takes longer than 25-30 patients. It is also possible that the tea is cold for the last people.
d) probably the most important one - people come to expect it and become angry and abusive if tea is not forthcoming when they want it.

My point, long winded but I'm getting there, is that although you have every right to complain, there may be operational issues that you are unaware of.

However, I would rather have you trying to put things right than the ignorance of the "well dressed lady"

Valerie said...

Tears welled up as I read this, Ken, and I thank the good Lord that there are still people on the earth who care about others. As for officialdom, well words fail me. As you say, it's Christmas ... isn't there a saying somewhere that goes 'peace on earth and good will to all men'

Sueann said...

I think it is beyond sad! Regulations be damned! Decency should be the order of the day!!
Thanks for the post

Freda said...

I wonder if it is down to each individual Tesco or an order from on high to keep certain people outside. Well done for speaking up.

Lakeland Jo said...

Jobsworths- so many around these days. There seems to be very little or flexibility or common sense left in this country

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Was apprehensive what the comments would be. Very heartened by the response. I honestly wrote this in anguish rather than just in anger.
What worried me most was not tescos rules and regulations but the fact that they and their staff could be so uncaring and unconcerned. I wonder how typical it is of them and theirs.

Grumpy Old Ken said...


Hi, thanks for your commenting at
such length. I think we are at cross purposes. I have no problem with Tesco having their own rules and regulations for whatever reasons. I just think they lack humility, not surprising considrering their purpose and size and a touch of humanity would be nice.
Let me too tell a story. I was recently in hospital. On our ward was an elderly gentleman with dementia. He was frighened and confused, desperately unhappy. One night he cried out several times for a bottle. He was ignored by a nearby nurse (apparently busy.) Ultimately he cried out, very upset that he was wetting himself. The answer from the nurse, 'It doesn't matter, we'll change the sheets.' Could she not see, or was unwilling to see that the problem was one of dignity. Are nurses trained to complete what they are doing, irrespective. Did this person start as a young nurse with high ideals and end up years later as a hard uncaring individual. I could go on but I wont. I am ashamed to say I said or did nothing. I vowed I would never be such a coward again. Hence my intervention in Tesco's. Nurses are far more important in life than I ever was in teaching. But we choose our role in life to a degree, and with it goes responsibility.
Sorry if I upset you, I value your visits.
Yours Ken

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Clifford James
Visited your website. Fascinating, will be back, couldn't fatham exactly what 'you' are but very good.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Clifford James
Visited your website. Fascinating, will be back, couldn't fatham exactly what 'you' are but very good.

Troy said...

She had travelled a long way to beg outside Tesco. I wonder what put her off Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, France, Belgium and Holland that stopped her staying in those countries rather than passing through to the UK? Perhaps their superstores are even less accommodating?

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Does it matter? If there were an afterlife of any kind, would it really be divided into nationalities, classes, colours etc.

GrumpyRN said...

Hello Ken,

"I think we are at cross purposes" - very likely, I have a propensity to take things the wrong way and can get all pompous and agitated over nothing at times(I claim it's an age thing).

"I just think they lack humility, not surprising considrering their purpose and size and a touch of humanity would be nice." - absolutely agree with you, bottom line for Tesco and other supermarkets is profit, people come a (very) poor second.

Your hospital story; apalling, completely unnecessary. It's 15-20 years since I worked on a ward but it did not used to be like this. The only thing I would comment on is, was it really a nurse or was it a health care assistant/auxiliary nurse? These people are minimally trained and are cheap. Not an excuse nor am I condoning it as it was obviously ward culture to behave this way. Sadly a lot of nurses are losing the concept of dignity - the RCN has had to have a campaign to bring dignity back. What an indictment on modern nursing.

"Nurses are far more important in life than I ever was in teaching." - Rubbish, teachers are hugely important, without good teachers we would not have nurses or any other profession. Good teachers open up the world to children (and adults). You may have seen this before but it bears repeating, and if you haven't then it is well worth watching.

It's OK Ken, I am not upset, I figure that if you don't want comments you would block them and if I write something then I have to justify it and defend it or apologise and change it. I was merely trying to point out that when people deal with the public it is never as simple as the public think it is or should be. i.e. To my friend it is just a cup of tea, but to me it is a pontential for conflict and complaints.

Keep writing, I enjoy what you write and I enjoy the opportunity to comment.

GrumpyRN said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Grumpy Old Ken said...

Thanks for the comments. I too wonder what the qualification was of the 'nurse'. we are of another age I fear. You seem to cope with the technology better than me. Found the U tube stuff, fascinating. I usually start my 'talks' with five minutes on 'losing it'. Have twice been returned to my wife and/or children by security staff!
You might like my next but one post on the speed Awareness. I think I was the oldest! Thanks and keep fighting/smiling.

MsCatMinder said...

Just read your Tesco post on taking a stand . Excellent post and good to stick up for someone else and for what you believe in . Thank you . And Im heartened that most people are For rather than Aainst . And that those Against can at least try to say why .

PixieMum said...

What do you expect of Tescos?

There is a growing band of silent protesters who boycott their stores. The policy of buying landbanks, ensuring other supermarkets cannot open near them, treating contractors (both food and others such as construction)very badly, squeezing out small independent traders before then raising their prices once the competition has gone has led to lack of competition and monopoly in many areas.

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