The Horrors of Kwiksave: Shit & Noise

in The Ink Well2 months ago (edited)

The Horrors of Kwiksave’ is a candid recollection of my memories working at Kwiksave (the now-defunct discount supermarket chain) as a 'Stock Lad'.

I wasted over FOUR years of my life in this maggot-infested hellhole and still occasionally wake up drenched in sweat after enduring a nightmare in which I am working there still.

Some of the names have been slightly changed simply to save my arse in case anyone takes offence at some of the details regarding my facts or opinions.

Many of the people mentioned are now dead as this happened so long ago, but their siblings are not.

This is the 'HIVE Special Edition' of a multi-part autobiographical story (with a little over-embellishment on some of the details) I posted on STEEM over 2 years ago.

It contains a LOT more detail and content than the original and will fill in many gaps that were missed the first time around.



Other Articles in this Series:
Chapter One: A Prelude to the Best Job in the Land
Chapter Two: The Job Centre
Chapter Three: The Interview
Chapter Four: Christmas is Coming
Chapter Five: The Changing of the Blades
Chapter Six: The Staff
Chapter Seven: The Auxiliary Staff and The Load
Chapter Eight: The Sugar Maniac
Chapter Nine: The Accusation and "Big Lad"
Chapter Ten: Naggy


‘Some kids are best left to fend for themselves, and others were born to stack shelves’ – Steven Wilson


Chapter Eleven: Shit and Noise

...'August 1981'...


I realised very early in my illustrious Kwiksave career that I was working for such a tight-arsed, mean company that every cost-cutting corner that could be snipped at… was.

I was employed as a shelf-filler, not a fucking cleaner but here I was cleaning the floors every two weeks.

I don't mean scraping up the jam that some dickhead customer dropped while fumbling for a jar, I mean the general cleaning duties that any other respectable organisation would pay for.

You need to stay behind tonight and clean the floor.., you and that new lad”, said Mort in his customary blunt tone I was now well accustomed too.


...'remove the tiling, make it black and add lots of mud. There were four aisles a little longer than this, and the stock lads were forced to clean them'...

The floor’ meant the whole shop floor and using dirty mops that were well past their sell date, with little in the way of strands of nylon interlaced with cotton to be seen.

I detested this job even more than cleaning out the shitters; at least that could be done in ten minutes. The floor was another matter, large in size and made of a black smooth asphalt surface you no longer see in today's world.

When it rained, people walked all over it with their dirty shoes and it quickly became a muddy grey colour with the accumulated dust turning to a coat of mud.

Myself and Graham were expected to work overtime (this was mandatory) after work hours to clean the crusty, shit-covered floor which generally took around 2 hours.


...'this is way better than the 'quality' mops that Mort threw at us to clean the shitty floor'...

One perk was that we did get paid for it, though I have no doubts in my mind that if Kwiksave could have made us do it for nothing then they would.

Mort, to his credit, did help but not in the manner you may think. He provided the buckets with steaming hot water, laced with some cheap washing up liquid and the antique mops.

Hurry up, I don’t want to be here all night”, came the predictable droll comment after handing us the equipment.

"When you have finished, you need to do it again this time with clean water", he continued, those slanty eyes scrutinising me as though I had committed some kind of crime, like eating damages.

Well, that's just fucking great; so we had to clean the floor twice? It was a ritual that went on for some time before Kwiksave eventually decided to make a change.


In 1981, supermarkets constantly played crappy music; this was the standard policy of those times which I had deduced, as Asda had done exactly the same thing the year before.

Kwiksave had a reel to reel tape machine in the office with around three different tapes of music from the period.

The tapes were constantly played to death, over and over, and over again until the songs were a permanent part of my ingrained memory and were only changed when they physically wore out.


...'only the best equipment would do to keep the hard-working Stock Lads in a permanent state of torture'...

This I would estimate would be once a year, and as the tunes were repeated day after day, they threatened to drive me mentally insane.

Being an avid fan of the music charts during this time period, I knew every song played backwards. However because the company was made up of complete tight-ass bastards, they wouldn’t pay for the original recordings.

The music, therefore, was not by the original artists but performed by some cheap street entertainers, a little like those cheesy Top of the Pops albums that were sold by everyone in the previous decade (but bought by few).


...'Top of the Pops compilations featured the worst covers you have ever heard and I physically shrank back in fear when seeing one of these. They did contain a bimbo, like this one on the front cover, and that's as good as it was going to get'...

After months of torture, I was at breaking point and my love of music was being literally threatened.

Mort didn't care about the music as he was in the office 97% of his working life, a place that was completely devoid of those irritating tunes. It's quite ironic as the source of the irritant was right next to him.

I never mentioned the music to Mort as he would likely have increased the volume to further torture me.

As a consequence, today I can no longer listen to ‘Body Talk – Imagination’, ‘Green Door - Shakin' Stevens’, ’Making Your Mind Up - Bucks Fizz’, ‘I Just called to say I Love you – Steve Wonder’, or ’Intuition – Linx’. There are plenty more but these left serious scars within my head, never to heal.


...'Shakin' Stevens..., fucking awful then and non-listenable to now; he was Welsh and so was going to be churning out his shit in Kwiksave obviously'...

What made it worse is that the aforementioned tunes are all awful and the original tracks would have been no better. Why couldn't we have simple silence?

I referred to the music as ‘noise’, and used to beg Sharon the supervisor, at times going down on my hands and knees to make the noise cease as soon as the doors were closed to customers.

She would flash me that blackened toothy grin and turn it off. Oh.., I can feel the stirrings in my loins.


To be continued...

Cover Picture is a combination of free sources from here and here, combined and edited with Luminar 4. Any unsourced images are my own.


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Would this music have been better?

You missed a spot.

Did you know Elton worked on some of those cover albums?

Don't get me started on covers, I always hated them (unless the first iteration I heard of a song WAS a cover).

During the 90's lots of them started appearing, ripping bits of songs here and there, PuffDaddy nicking Every Breath You Take is an example.., a load of shit.

I hated those bloody covers. All the shittest places in the world played them. I tended to leave a place if they played them. Of course, not the easiest if you work there!

It only enhanced my hatred of them, they were everywhere then.. but now it seems like they are gone. I do listen and hear original's these days, with a lot of eighties still played.

The eighties will never die it seems!!

Cheesy music, but I miss them. Cheesy is better than the crap we have to listen to now.

It's the auto-tuning that drifts new mental now. It's out of control

Tightening of loins for Sharon Blacktooth? Forsooth, what will come of that? Does the stock lad make the ultimate sacrifice?

I don't believe I've ever used forsooth in a sentence before. How about that?

One of my good friends got a job right out of college with a company called IGM. International Good Music. They had multiple things going on, from Elevator Special to Supermarket Music to pre recorded and syndicated radio shows. David thought he was hired as talent for the Radio division but he caught 6 months of setting up rip off covers to sell to tight assed grocery and drug stores. He drank heavily. Sill does.

I do remember the tapes were sourced from a company similar to this.. as whenever I went in Mort's office I stared hard at the equipment hoping it would disintegrate under my withering glare. The company name began with a 'D', that's all I can pull out of the grey matter.

That mort is a lazy bastard, I used to get stuck in polishing the floor, not because I enjoyed it I just loved the smell of the white liquid polish!

Totally agree with the shite music, I once put the Xmas tape on in July just to see a reaction, it didn’t get one! Guess folk just didn’t care.

White liquid polish.. Did they have black floors in your branch? I can't remember any polish, just the old decrepit mops.

Yeah black floors that got all shiney shiney when you mopped the stuff on , mmmmmm!

Aaaarrgghhh..,, NO!.. I had the 7' single once, but that was before the fresh tape's arrived and spoiled the song completely. I was into regular music then.

Don't be hating on Stevie Wonder. That is some awesome stuff. I don't know about any of the other stuff though. I hate cleaning the floor too. I would not enjoy mopping it twice. I am surprised he didn't make you go back over it with another cloth to dry it.

Stevie is awesome, but not that damn song. It was cheesy as hell then, and no Master Blaster, My Cherie Amour, Superstition or Sir Duke.

What? Kwiksave didn't even carry its own mops?

I believe they were sourced from back alleys and old bins.


There's a chap on Youtube who goes by "Techmoan." He has a couple videos on grocery store background music machines.

My first "real" job was as a grocery store deli clerk, evening shift & cleanup. The store is no more, but that is through no fault of my own. I abandoned that job for the glamorous career opportunities afforded by the local theme park.

Perhaps I should write some stories about my early jobs.

Perhaps I should write some stories about my early jobs.

You should, did they play shit music there too, that drove you to madness?

Shitty pop from the early 2000s.

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