In France, it seems as if everything in business revolves around the worker and their rights. This is fantastic for workers, but it does lead to some interesting results. Results which I am sure could be avoided by a few changes here and there which wouldn’t adversely affect workers.
For instance, Sundays. Workers can’t be asked to work long hours or long weeks. So, most small businesses don’t have staff available to work on weekends. In order to protect the small businesses, almost all businesses are forced to shut on Sundays. Some big supermarkets have a small window of three hours on a Sunday morning where they can open just to let a few random people grab a handful of things.
Except that it’s not just a few random people. On Sundays, everyone that works 9-5 and was busy relaxing on Saturday realises that they need to grab a few things or they won’t be able to do so until Monday evening. Many more people decide that they want fresh bread with their lunch, and since their favourite boulangerie is shut they may as well go to the supermarket and grab a bit of cheese too (instead of going to one of the extremely busy Sunday boulangeries, which are not usually your local favourite anyway). By 11:30 on Sunday, the supermarket is jam-packed with people, most of whom only have one or two items in their hand.
Now, here’s the fun part. The supermarkets are protecting their workers too. On Saturdays, Sundays, and in the evenings (all the times when the 9-5 workers are free to do their shopping), all the supermarket’s 9-5 workers are off work too. They are usually down to one or two cashiers… which leaves monstrous lines to pay for stuff and leave.
Today, my local supermarket had a surprising four cashiers on (none of whom I’d ever seen before), and each line had 40-odd people in it when I arrived, and more when I left. It took me two minutes to find what I wanted, then an hour to wait in the line to leave. I even took a photo.
One guy tried hopefully to sneak into the line and got glared at by the guy in front of me. The lady behind me had one packet of coffee. The kids just in front of me only had three loaves of bread. The guy in front of me had some nappies and a few other bits. Not one of us had a huge load that would take a while. We’re all waiting here, buddy, get to the back of the line.
On that note, I think I have a look about me that says “Please step in line in front of me”. I’ve noticed on occasion that people will brazenly walk up, look me up and down, then stand right in front of me. Apparently, I don’t look like I will punch them. One day, I may well surprise a queue-jumping so-and-so.
Getting back to today, I really feel most sorry for the security guard, who was trying to stop people from entering the store when it was clearly going to be open for another hour anyway while the cashiers tried to catch up. He looked like he was preparing to block a stampede.
I got home and the Aussie I spoke to next laughed at me and said “That’s why I buy everything online”. This is a dilemma too. You see, this particular supermarket has decided to open up online shopping. They had fliers in the store and delivered them to our house. Only every time I try to do it, the site refuses to acknowledge that my store is capable of being the one who delivers me my food. So, someone at Casino head office forgot to set that up. I wonder if the local supermarket thinks there’s just no interest in it here.
Another local supermarket also has an online service, which you pick up. But it’s completely flawed. If they don’t have the exact product, you supposedly have the option to choose whether they find something similar or just skip it. Only what they actually do is determined by whoever is filling up your bags. They also manage to skip items routinely and forget to take them off the bill. I eventually worked out that small orders were less likely to be screwed up, but that makes the whole thing a little pointless.
Oh well, I’ll just spend half my Sunday standing around in the supermarket like everyone else. :)