What you see isn’t what you get

I got into work on Tuesday evening to be told by my department manager that an ITV camera crew were coming to the store in the morning to film, and that I had to make sure it was really clean. As part of my job is cleaning anyway, it’s not that much of a problem, but I knew I would have to spend a little longer on it than normal.

A friend of mine from another department later informed me it was the Tonight show (used to be Tonight with Trevor McDonald until he left a couple of years ago, in case you’ve never heard of it) doing something about shopping habits. My store deputy manager, upon bumping into me in the staff area, also explained to me that I needed to give the bakery a really good clean, to, and I quote, “like how it’d be on opening day.”

I first realised how annoyed some of the staff were about this when another friend of mine was changing all the labels over on one of the shelves, for no reason other than the newer ones looked better. Other people were cleaning intensely rather early on, but I didn’t start until nearly nine on account of all the bread I had to slice. Which, incidentally, also had to be lined up neatly on the shelves too.

My boss explained that I had to sweep all the shelves down, then pull out the labelling, sweep that out and replace it. In half an hour I managed to do the first section, which took me to half nine, when I should finish. Instead, as I was told I’d get paid overtime as long as I stayed late to clean, I carried on. I finally finished at 10.40, by which time I was shattered and fed up.

I wasn’t the only one. A woman from another department who I spoke to not long before the end wasn’t due to come in until six in the morning. Another colleague was still there as I left, and had to be in at eight. All this extra work for a few minutes on the camera.

I can understand wanting the store to look its best on TV. But surely an accurate representation of how it normally is would be better. In my department alone, more employees were being drafted in for the morning shift, to look like a ‘full department’. Which, naturally, would mean more bread would be made, leaving more waste and slicing for the evening. Thankfully I had Wednesday evening off, else closedown would be awful.

So when you see us on TV in a few weeks’ time, know that it’s never that clean or busy normally. Like presenters who put make-up on for the show, our store’s been cleaned up too. I know for a fact, when I next go in, it’ll be messy again- and business as usual.

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