The Trolley Folly

, , , , | Right | February 26, 2019

(I’m working on the shop floor on this particular day, putting out stock. A woman comes up to me with a basket full of shopping.)

Woman: “I need a trolley. Can you get one for me? They usually let me borrow a trolley token from the tills.”

Me: “Of course. I’ll go and see if they have any.”

(In the past, we did indeed let people borrow trolley tokens sometimes; these were ones we usually sold for £1. We’d let the customers borrow them, ask them to return them, and then put them back in the packaging again afterward. But we stopped eventually because, as you can imagine, customers didn’t bother returning them. We did sometimes get tokens that customers had left behind, too, but eventually these, too, went wandering. Still, I go to the tills to confirm that we still don’t have any.)

Me: “We don’t have any trolley tokens a customer could borrow, do we?”

Colleague: “Not anymore, no. Just tell her there’s some for sale if she wants one.”

(I go back to the customer:)

Me: “Sorry, we don’t let customers borrow them anymore, unfortunately. But on the tills, at the moment, we do have an offer where you can buy two for £1.50.”

Woman: “No, I don’t want to pay for them! What else am I supposed to do?! This is heavy!”

Me: “I am sorry. I don’t know what else to suggest, but we can’t give any change or trolley tokens anymore.”

Woman: “Fine. I’ll just leave my shopping here, then!”

(She walked away, muttering under her breath, but didn’t leave her shopping as she’d threatened. A few minutes later, I was called to the tills to help get rid of a queue, and I saw her getting served by a colleague. She had gotten a trolley, and it was one of the store’s older, more battered trolleys which are usually kept in the warehouse to use for stock. I could only guess that she’d taken it when whichever member of staff had been using it had gone elsewhere for a moment. Sure enough, not long after getting back onto the shop floor, I walked past a colleague who had lost their trolley. The cardboard which had been in it had been lifted out and put onto the floor.)

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