Tuesday, 21 August 2007


Around lunchtime saw me standing by the checkout of the Kefirek [chain of small supermarkets] near the office, waiting for a Faktura VAT for the coffee etc. that I bought yesterday. Looking around, I noticed a new set of those barcode detector barrier things that you get in libraries to stop people running away with L-Q of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. There was a small group of foreign students including one blond girl with a very red face. The elderly security guard was making her pass through the barriers again and again. Watching him, I realised that this was the same guy who tried to force a basket upon me (the fact that I was only going in for a pint of milk notwithstanding) several weeks ago, thus providing my only conversation for the whole day since both my boss and flatmates were away at the time.
He searched her jacket, and then took her bag, rifling through for barcoded items before triumphantly pulling out a box of tampons. The girl was now blushing a lovely Polish shade of beetroot soup.
- I bought it in another shop! she protested in English. The guard didn't understand, ignored her and marched off to check for suspicious-looking gaps in the feminine hygiene aisle. Of course there were none, and eventually he let the mortified girl and her friends go.

Ten minutes later (it takes a long time to print a VAT receipt in Poland), the barriers went off again and the security guard bustled up importantly. This time, it was a British couple, laden with shopping bags. The self-important old fart made them pass through a second time, before taking one of their bags to the booze counter to be checked.
- Oh crap... I thought.... someone'll have to butt in and my EN>PL isn't anywhere near up to random acts of tourist rescue...
Fortunately the guy behind the counter had an ounce or two of common sense and told the pompous old security guy just to let them go.

So, Brits back home, when you're complaining about the floods of Polish plumbers, security staff, checkout girls, and so on, do bear in mind you've got all the best: these are the people who are working to save up for law degrees/learning English so they can work in international banking/saving to build a huge house in the mountains back home. These are the people customer service did not leave behind. And they pay UK taxes, which, I might add (as a Polish taxpayer, why, God, why??) is an extremely sensible thing to do.

Could you send one or two of them back to us please??

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