If I may take a break from writing about Catering Equipment for a minute: Sometimes I get sent on errands... like an errand boy. Yesterday I was sent on an errand to Tesco to buy cold drinks. So I jumped into my little red van (well actually this was impossible because Mr G had decided to park his big V6 4X4 pimp mobile an inch from my driver's side wing mirror making it impossible for me to manouver my considerable frame between our two vehicles. So I actually got in the passenger side and clambered across into the driver's seat), and off I went. Now I am under the impression that life is a series of challenges and trials and how a person overcomes these challenges and deals with these trials defines their character. My usual way of dealing with a trial is to shout, swear, sulk, swear some more and then probably eat something. I am mellowing very slightly with my advancing years but not any extent worth mentioning so forget I said it. Life is also pretty dull most of the time. I know we all pretend that we lead thrilling existences full of important decisions and unique experiences but we don't really do we? Do we? Do you? Oh maybe it's just me then. So when pulling into Tesco car park and finding it full my heart sank slightly because I spotted a trial in the making. I parked about the same distance from the entrance as I was from the sun, and began hiking. Arriving at the front doors I noticed that the cigarette counter had moved, expanding into part of the shop we, as customers, had not previously been aware of. What was it before? I made straight for the multideck at the little sandwich bit and noticed that there was an exceedingly limited range of cold drinks. I am not fussy about the stuff i pour down my neck so I grabbed a selection and headed for the tills. Now fate presented the trial. Every till was open and every till was full and every full till was piled high with Christmas goods including 36" TV's and the like. "Aha" I though to myself (I actually though "Aha!") "Self-Service Tills! The saviour of the technically minded youg shopper". "Off we go." I thought. Then I realised that I was actually already in the queue for the service tills. Queue is not the correct word. A "queue" indicates an orderly line of patiently waiting people. This was more like a "Stalingrad". So I narrowed my eyes like Lt. Schaeffer and decided upon the fastest looking queue. This featured a lady carrying 2 items of clothing and a bag of sweets and a man with a trolley full of some strange vegetables or fruit that I am still unable to identify. They may have some sort of beetroot / mango hybrid. So I waited. The man on the next Self-Service till was desperately clinging to his patience like a cat to clothes line. Every single item he attempted to scan rewarded him with a disembodied female voice announcing "Unexpected item please wait for assistance". This he accompanied with a roll of the eyes and quick glance at the ever growing queue behind him. A Tesco lady would come, tap in her ID code, solve the problem and then walk away. He would roll his eyes again, stoop to pick up another item and scan it. "Unexpected item please wait for assistance". He would drop the item onto the scanner and glance around for Tesco lady to come to his aid. This was when I noticed that everyone in his queue was watching his every move. When he scanned his item and was told that he had tried to scan something non-tescoy they would all roll their eyes in unison and then they would ALL look around for the tesco lady! It was like watching eye-ballet. I started to feel quite sorry for the man until he took the milk out of his basket and revealed a copy of the Daily Mail. Then I switched my attention to the man on my Self-Service till. I was on the till that has the conveyor. So you scan your item and put it on the conveyor and it is whisked away from you at alarming speed to somewhere out of arms reach. This is unsettling and does not allow you to enjoy the rest of your Tesco experience because you are constantly having to glance to your right to make sure that ne'erdowells aren't pinching your valuable items. Now the chap on my till was of a different set to the Daily Mail reader next door. He was obviously intent on getting this right. He looked like a cross between a history teacher and Captain Manwaring. His long-suffering wife stood at the other end of the conveyer and STARED at the side of his head with pure hatred in her eyes as he scanned each item. I can understand her reaction. He would take an item out of his trolley and shield it from the laser to prevent premature scannage. Then, starting at about eye-level he would send the item on a carefully planned glide-path towards the scanner, his tongue protruding ever so slightly from the corner of his mouth. He would move the object closer and closer to the laser keeping the bar code stretched taught. Then when the bar code finally came to rest on the glass without the expected beep he would start it again. Only the next time when he reached the glass he would move the label slightly from left to right. When he finally got the required authorisation from the machine he would carefully place it on the conveyer and watch it go all the way to his waiting spouse. She would then pick the item up and, without taking her eyes of the side of her husbands head, slam it into the bottom of the waiting carrier bag. Once the item was safely secured then man would carefully select another and restart the process. This with a full trolley of produce. Now every single person in that queue will have spoken to somebody about the horror of Tesco. I did, I even wrote about it this blog. Here's the thing though. Without this totally pointless technology which makes our shopping experience less enjoyable and more painstaking what would HAVE to talk about? If everything we did went flawlessly there'd be nothing to talk about. So maybe there's a secret organisation who sit around having meetings where things like this are dicussed: "We have had reports that people are not talking about their shopping experience enough on the drive home. They are instead arguing about the amount of time one partner takes to shop for their groceries." "Why don't we introduce self service checkouts that don't work very well, then they'll get all frustrated and have a common enemy to hate thus providing a conversation topic for the drive home." "Brilliant. Let's put our worst engineers and scientists on it right away!" It snowed, quite heavily. We all had to sit in traffic for hours and hours to get here. Conversation for the first few hours of the day was therefore based upon the weather and the traffic. If we had all had perfect rides in this morning what would we have talked about? Here's the thing though.... we DID get here, we made it. We are locked and cocked and ready to rock. So give us a ring and we'll solve your catering and refrigeration problems in the blink of an eye.