An old man [So at least twenty years older than me] was chatting to a couple of his contemporaries over a coffee in the front room. He started talking about this really good pub meal he and his wife had eaten the other day. One of his mates asked the name of the pub.
He thought about it for a minute or two and then asked, “What’s the name of those beautiful flowers, nice smell, but with thorns?”
His mate said “You mean the Rose?”
”That’s it,” the first chap said. He stood up and shouted into the Kitchen, “Rose, what was the name of the pub we ate at the other day.”
I noticed in the financial papers that Tesco is feeling badly done to, and they’ve realised that people don’t love them any more. It’s not just Tesco; a lot of the big supermarkets have taken a kicking. Customers are deserting them.
I confess that I don’t find this surprising. It could have been ten years ago we were eating in a pub near Bristol and I went to the bar to get the drinks and the menu. There was a group of locals with thick West Country accents talking and I idly wondered what rustic wisdom was being imparted. The discussion was about supermarket loyalty cards and which were the best. Given that all of them appeared to have at least four it struck me that it was a discussion they’d done the research for. But somehow, when people have multiple loyalty cards, the issuer of those cards has screwed up somewhere.
But why aren’t the major supermarket chains liked? Here I think I can help. Last figures I saw, Tesco employs 310,000 people in the UK. ASDA apparently has 128,000, Sainsbury’s about 150,000.
So a lot of people are employed on the shop floor by Supermarkets. That’s a lot of people who are intimately aware of whether these companies are good or bad employers. If these people feel they’re regarded as cheap and expendable then they’re not going to neglect to mention it to their friends. If each person just lets family and friends know, suddenly ten or twenty times as many people know just what these companies are like to work for.
Then there’s the poor beggars trying to make a living supplying supermarkets. If a firm has been gouged by their customer, then fair enough, they’re not going to kick up a fuss publically, call in ombudsmen or whatever, because they know that if they do, they’ll never sell into that market again. But those who work for this victim of corporate greed aren’t stupid. They will know what’s going on, and they will also be able to work out for themselves why the company they work for has had to take it on the chin and not moan.
I suppose the rule is that if you go round acting like a bullying thug, people will soon realise that you are a bullying thug and you’ll experience the same love and respect people reserve for those they know to be bullying thugs.
If you get a reputation for screwing your customers and staff, word does leak out and people take note. People remember these things, you will not be loved.
Then there are the shared memories of our youth. I was listening to two lads [So at least twenty years younger than me] talking. They’d both been to Newton Rigg College where they’d met. They were talking about a TV programme where grim Liverpool drama was acted out against a Lake District background. This TV programme had thrown them both into fond reminiscences of their joint and distant past. I mean it must have been at least ten years previously! I’d seen one clip of the programme, a car full of young ‘ladies’ in short skirts and heels had pulled up at a Lake District pub to be met by the hero and his mates.
This led to the following conversation.
Lad one, “Did you even go drinking there.”
Lad two, “Yes, couple of times.”
Lad one, “So when you were there, did you ever see a carload of birds like those.”
Lad two, after some thought, “No, nowt but crag rats and grannies.”