The Horrors of Kwiksave: The Changing of the Blades

in hive-170798 •  last month 

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.

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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

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


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Chapter Four: The Changing of the Blades

...'March 1981'...

'WARNING: BAD LANGUAGE BELOW'

There was no respite. I was on my feet all day, including EVERY Saturday. I didn't work Tuesday afternoon and Sundays. The Tuesday afternoons closing at 1 pm is some weird localism that dates back 100 years or so.

Other local towns close on different afternoons, some Wednesdays, and others Thursdays. It used to irritate the hell out of me when I was younger as I always forget about it and then found the town completely closed.

This ‘quant curiosity’ doesn’t appear to be losing favour in more recent times. During my time at Kwiksave, I welcomed it for the duration of my ‘sentence’.

During the first 3 months, Carrot the assistant manager left to become the manager of the Bury store. I was then left to do all the work with Mort or more specifically, I did all the work.

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...'This is the Kwiksave I am writing about today. It's now a nightclub. I shuddered returning to take this shot, 40 years later'...

Simply put, Mort was a lazy motherfucker; he didn't like to do work. If he filled up the yoghurt section or walked around looking important with a pad doing stocktaking then he considered himself busy.

There was many a time I caught him looking at me, not directly but out of the corner of his eye. Exactly why I couldn’t tell you but the vibes came off him strongly.

Get on with your fucking work peon, I’m the boss here and you had better know it

That uppity look was something I learned to ignore, him looking down the end of his nose at most everybody as they were in his mind... inferior beings.


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I was equipped with a used overall. This piece of decrepit clothing went over my head and had three holes; one big one for my head, and two for my arms.

It was shit brown in colour and sported the words ‘Kwiksave’ on the chest right of centre. It was also a cast off from whoever had left before I started.

Here.., you have to wear this’, he had stated throwing what looked like a blue dirty rag at me on the first day. I had found the brown one by accident under some empty pallets in the back-shop.

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On the first day, Mort had forced me to wear this 'thing, and what he described as ‘Kwiksave corporate garb’.

The stench of pungent body odour came off strongly from both of them, the brown one slightly less so and I figured I might not pass out breathing in the fumes.

I made a note to take it home and wash it thoroughly lest I catch some horrible disease or the plague.


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I also was given a ‘stock knife'. Let me explain... at Kwiksave goods are received in manufacturers boxes. For example, a box of Heinz beans would contain 12 tins of Heinz beans in a cardboard box.

Unlike other stores, Kwiksave used to cut off the end of the boxes exposing the 12 tins of beans to the customer. So the shelves were full of these boxes of all products with the ends cut off. Why they did this, I will never know.

To achieve this, I used ‘The Stock Knife’, a variant of the Stanley knife with a very sharp blade.


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At the end of every day, the shelves were littered with half-empty boxes of every kind of foodstuff you can imagine, and every day close to finishing I kicked a large box around and had to 'rack down’.

This terminology was effectively filling the more full boxes and emptying the empty boxes, ripping them up and compressing them into the large empty box that I kicked around the floor, eventually emptying it into a huge skip.

If the blade in the stock knife became blunt, you turned it over as it has two edges. If both edges became blunt, you walked to the office, knocked, and asked for a new blade.

This was something I loathed doing as Mort seemed adamant that saving blades was some kind of huge priority and cost-cutting exercise, and without doing so Kwiksave was doomed to go into administration.

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Rapping on the office door and asking for a new blade was a fucking ordeal and generally went something along the lines of this:

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Knock, Knock.

Around 2 minutes later, Mort would snatch open the door and snarl….

WHAT DO YOU WANT NOW?’, the look of loathing was apparent; eyes full of suspicion

Could I have a replacement blade please, this one is blunt’, I would respond in my most pleading voice.

Mort would then scrutinise the blade and respond, ‘this looks perfectly fine to me, are you sure you know how to cut boxes?

Yes, Mr. Mortenson, it's really unusable. I tried and tried to use it, even begged it to sharpen but that didn’t work either

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Pulling himself to his full height, which was about my height, Mort would BOOM....

BOY, don’t get funny with me or I’ll have you in here and in the book with a written warning for insubordination before you can say jack shit

'Sorry Mr. Mortenson, it won't happen again', I would whisper in the meekest tone I could muster.

’I will need to check this for further inspection..., wait outside and be quiet’, he growled, looking down his nose in that customary manner.

With that, the office door was slammed in my face, and the 'waiting' generally around 5 minutes.

The door would suddenly re-open and a new blade would be thrust into my hands in anticipation of cutting my fingers.

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The gleam in Mort’s eye was deliberate and I could see he was looking to do some damage; asking for a new blade apparently held consequences.

I became quite dextrous at taking the blades from Mort after almost an accident in which my lightning reflexes saved me. I was quick and agile in my younger years.

That was Mort; anything to make my life more miserable, that twat would do his utmost to see that it happened.

Looking over his shoulder I spotted a magnifying glass in the corner of the office. There was no doubt in my mind that he had been inspecting it and looking for any reason to dismiss my request.

On this occasion the blade had passed the 'Mort bluntness test', it would not always be so.


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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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I think I managed to avoid Kwiksave but I remember the Dunstable store from my college days. One of my fellow course mates was quite a bit older than me (30's) and he worked in there. He was a rugby player and far too scary to take the piss...he never had anything good to say about the place.

Hehe, there was never anything good about it. Being a big lad would have been an asset.

That does sound like hell. Jeez, sounds like a modern supermarket time shifted to Victorian times.

LOL, you are right, the nightmares come less frequently now but still exist!

Has Mort found his way to the mortuary? Poor Mort. I hope his attitude changed before he died - sadistic bastard though he may have been. But you, on the other hand, dodging ninja stars (or was it razor blades?) like a trained assassin. Mort should have had more respect for that kind of agility. Maybe, he was just afraid you were KGB and that's why he was so hesitant to open the door.... Which begs the question....

What was he really doing in there?

He was a little older than me, is he still alive? Who knows, I didn't keep tabs on him over the years!

Oh the joys of retail that I managed to avoid. My other half worked in Debenhams, but I guess that was a slightly classier establishment.

There is no comparison, I had to go back to get a shot of the place. I wonder what the toilets are like now?

Lol. What a grade A prick. there is nothing else in the world than a jobsworth who thinks that the company money is theirs to safeguard

I could be exaggerating, just a tad!

I am thankful I have never had a uniform I have needed to wear for work. Unless you consider a shirt and tie a uniform. It has been nice to just be able to wear what I want. You probably never had to deal with that again being a work at home contractor!

You probably never had to deal with that again being a work at home contractor!

Long may it continue!

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