Ok, let's start from the beginning, I was sent on a errand to our local Tesco, to get Infancol, Calgel Teething Gel and Carpet Cleaner. The first two were obviously for our 7 month old, the latter was to clean the carpet from a serious case of hairball from one of our cats.
After roaming the cleaning isle a couple of times, I eventually locked onto the one half-a-shelf with carpet cleaners on it, and consulted the Mrs over the phone, which of the vast choice of 3 she preferred.
I then headed for the baby isles, we've been down them a few times in the last 7 - 16 months.
Located the Infancol (to help babies with "wind" troubles) immediately and luckily only one size/choice, ok, good. I looked for the "Calgel" (a Teething Gel made by Calpol people, I remember taking Calpol as a kid myself), no sign, in fact there was only one, Dentinox or something like that, in a plain white package.
Now, I don't want to sound odd, but being only a parent for 7 months, you get used to some things and they're comforting, or give a comforting feel, and that's that on the vast majority of baby products, there's usually a smiling infant or mother & baby duo on the front. I've often suspected this was to aid fathers when tasked to retrieve such items by themselves, so it's my reaction to avoid it, whether that's right or wrong is up to the individual, you may think differently, power to you then.
So, I bring out the trusted phone to contact the all-knowing one... who quickly makes her frustrations aware over the phone to me, I shall just paraphrase "IT'S THERE! IT SHOULD BE THERE!". Me, "Well, it's not, I've run a 600 x600 DPI scan (techy humour there) across the whole aisle and there's no sign of it".
Luckily about this time, a lady behind me pipes up and says it's down "the 1st isle" (area with medicines), I thank her, and set off in that direction.
After another thorough scan of the whole isle or two, or three, or... well actually I lost count, I did spot a Bonjela Teething Gel. "Right... so half here, half in the baby isle.... that's helpful", I think to myself, well actually I probably muttered it out loud.
Then I remembered that a few weeks back, this Tesco had suddenly got a Pharmacy back, in fact, if I may detour for a moment, don't worry you'll enjoy this. The other night both myself and the Mrs (or SWMBO) both visited Tesco to do a big shop, while baby was with her grandparants.
They used to have one... quite a while ago.. in fact... I think the last thing I bought from it was a pack of condoms, I remember hoping to get served by a man, but it was a woman instead, and feeling super-embarrassed.
Anyway, grandma (she doesn't like being called granny) has managed to burn her arm on the kettle and called us to pick up a particular burn cream.. accruflex if my memory is correct (not often), we of course scan all the isles in the medicine area... find nothing, so I suggest the Pharmacy. We head on over there, where we're served by a very "jolly" lady, who seems oddly familiar...
Of course... as the gentler species does... SWMBO manages to start our second social interaction while at Tesco (the first to a somewhat strange man in the sweet isle, who told us he has a full kitchen of appliances, none of which he bought, because he works at a tip or something like that.. *rolls his eyes*), at which point we learn that she is glad to be in the pharmacy, after spending 7 years upstairs in electrical, she did enjoy it and learned a lot, but was nice to be back in the pharmacy... yes because she worked in the original one... oh god...
To anyone who's watched an episode of Scrubs, I was doing a JD inner head scream, along with shouting (in my head still!) "Please don't recognise me, please don't recognise me!" and picturing me running from the pharmacy counter like an olympic runner. Fortunately, either she didn't recognise me (well, I imagine she served a lot of people at the pharmacy, and I hope I look different to then.. though I have a very young looking face, so am often believed to be younger than I am... should come in handy in later years), or did and thankfully didn't mention it. After hearing how Tesco lost it's license or never had one to begin with and so had to close it's Pharmacies in stores, and that they'd now got a license and was reopening Pharmacies in selected stores, etc. etc. we got the cream, and said thank you and bye and finished our shopping for the night.
Anyway, enough humour, back to my rant! Back to tonight, or last night as I write this blog.
I head off in that direction, unfortunately the helpful nice lady was not on duty this night, instead there's two somewhat "lost" looking staff members instead, one looking way more "lost" than the other. I enquire about the Calgel, which I'm told they don't have in the Pharmacy and to look down the aisles, I explained I already had and my results (2, neither of which are in, in two different locations), they point me to customer services... off I trot.
Now, it's not easy getting to customer services, when you're already carrying a couple of items, you have to manoeuvre through the "gates" they have, and hug customer services, with a bouncer-esque security guard eyeing you up. "Well, if you designed this place better, we wouldn't have this problem!" I think to myself.
Standing in the queue for 20 minutes, while the two staff members deal with one customer (one of them faffing with paperwork), then a lady with a trolly full of wine trundles over and gets served before me! Requesting help with loading into her car. The staff member fumbles for a bit, makes a weak attempt at a phone call, before grabbing the senior-looking Security Guard into doing a "favour". "Well at least it stops him looking at me like I'm a criminal" I think to myself.
Finally... the bit you've been waiting for... I'm served. "Hello, I'm trying to find a particular baby Teething Gel. I've been down the aisles, and found one in the baby section, and another in the medicine aisle, but neither of them..." "Pharmacy", she says interrupting, in fact, I'd battled to get even that far. "I've been to Pharmacy already, they told me to come here", I say, and I think "If you'd let me finish you &*%((^$(".
She sighs, grunts or something or other. "Can you look on your system please", I ask politely. Normally I wouldn't be this calm in the face of such obvious unhelpfulness, but I was on a mission for my Daughter, so decided to keep cool.
"What was it?" She asks.
"Calgel Teething Gel" I say.
"Calpol", she says beginning to type.
I sigh. "It's Calgel, it's made by the Calpol people...
"Then it'll be Calpol", she interrupts.
" but it's called Calgel", I finish.
She types in Calpol and searches.
"Nope, no teething gel here", she says, I think, though it could just have easily been "Computer says no" from the tone.
"Is that using a search for Calpol?" I ask.
"Yes", she says flately.
"Can you try Calgel?", I ask politely, doing the best job ever of withholding my frustration, in fact, a picture is forming in my head..
"Well, I could put in Calgel if you like...", she says.
The picture forms, of me leaping over the counter, pushing her aside and searching for it myself.
"If you would please." I maintain my cool.
"How do you spell that?" she asks.
"C.. A...L...G...E", I start.
"GEL", she finishes.
I'm pretty sure I roll my eyes while she looks down at her computer screen.
She types into the computer...
"Oh... 4 results..." she says, genuinely sounding surprised.
I feel my hopes rise, I'm winning, I could have the gel in my hands and be making my way home shortly, hoorah!"
".... but they're not stocked by this store." she says flatly.
"But.. we've been getting it here for months", I say somewhat frustrated.
"Says we don't stock it." She says flatly again.
"We've had the pharmacy reopen, so some things have changed", she says.
"Right... " I say, at this point I've given up trying to do this woman's job for her, and say "Ok", and make my way back to the Pharmacy, in the hopes that now I've confirmed the store has it on their system I might get further (since previously the Pharmacy staff had no idea what Calgel was or if they stocked it, and that Customers would be the ones to know).
I stand there for 30 minutes behind one other customer, and a queue forming behind me, while one member of the Pharmacy staff has gone awol, and the other spends all this time sorting the customer out infront and finishing with a jolly old chat. I look behind me at the queue of 5 people now, and this pharmacy is very small, about the size of photo processing booths they had in the USA in the 90's.
Finally I'm served, explained my adventures in Tesco tonight so far, where I'm told that actually, all the pharmacy stock is just "store stock", so Customer services would know if they had it.
Right now, I would settle for half-hearted attempt at opening a few draws looking...
She informs me that stock control is Head Office's decision, and maybe it wasn't selling well, so was withdrawn to allow room for other items on the shelves.
I said, "Ok then, guess I'll have to enquire at head office, thanks." and I quickly shuffle off, not wanting to hold up the others patiently queuing behind me.
I head over to the medicine aisle and get the Bonjela one instead, praying I've not just wasted my money on it (babies can be picky and once you give them something without problems, you don't rock the boat getting something different).
I shall of course be calling HO to enquire about the teething gel, but also to advise them to stop using "Little Britain" as a training aid to Tesco Staff, as they're obviously getting it the wrong way round ("what to do", instead of "what NOT to do").
Of course, I get home, explain all this to SWMBO, who can't believe it, she looks at the Bonjela, and reads "Bannana Flavour, oh no.." "What?" I say. "Well.. it's not that she doesn't like Bannana flavour, but bannanas do block her up"
I just sigh.