Scampi in a basket

You wouldn’t think, would you that the British public would come shopping with a dog? But they do, oh yes they do.

On the front door of the store where I work is a very clear notice explaining that dogs are not allowed in, unless they are assistance dogs. Yet, in they come. All shapes, all breeds. In the interests of commerce and just generally trying to please, a decision was taken much higher up than me that we would allow dogs in, as long as they were small enough to be carried.

To easy to be open for interpretation that one. I am sure, if it suited the situation, a customer would stagger in, his St. Bernard lolling in his arms. If he can be carried, he can be allowed in. Most dogs in the store are pushed around in the trolleys, we cross our fingers and hope that the trolley is not pushed back into the racking system with an extra present lurking in the bottom, waiting to be discovered.

We have seen dogs in their own trolleys, peeping out of wheeled baskets, draped across shoulders and also lurching around at the end of a lead. One would bark at me every time I walked past. So I made sure to do just that every couple of minutes, fixing it with a Very Hard Stare, just like Paddington Bear’s Aunt Lucy.

We have also recently been issued with headsets. These are great fun as we can communicate with the entire staff about how stupid you are and how ridiculous your question and how unrealistic your expectations. We can also call attention to the behaviours of particular shoppers….

“There’s a cat in the store, being wheeled around in a child’s pram”, came the urgent and bewildered message over the headset. This set up a flurry of chinese whispers as the staff couldn’t quite believe this whole new scenario. Were we now going to have to put up a new sign on the door- No Animals in Here- At All, Ever.

One by one and using our lovely headsets, we took it in turns to creep to where the customer was innocently making her way around the store, only to find a staff member suddenly appearing in her aisle and then disappearing again, to be replaced by someone new.

It was indeed a cat. In a child’s pushchair. When I went to look, it had been fenced in by some kind of netting and was sitting up, its large eyes peering forlornly out, not quite believing the situation it had found itself in.

Then there was a flurry of “cat” puns over the headsets- catastrophy, catatonic etc, etc. That kept us going for a while. The customer came to pay. The staff member later relayed that apparently they were all going on holiday and nobody could “cat sit” so the cat had to come along as well. To the shops. In a pram.

Our entertainment was rounded off for the evening when the duty manager announced that as the cat was pretty much in a basket, it’s name had to be…..Scampi.

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