Friday, July 20, 2007

Name that fruit or vegetable

So. I'm at the checkout in Tesco. I'm placing the contents of my trolley on to the conveyor belt, in a strict order, because that is what I am like. Fruit, then veg, then other fridge things, then stuff that belongs in the larder, then bathroom and cleaning products. We've only just started and already the checkout girl is looking a little flummoxed. Luckily the boy on the next til is willing to help.

It's a starfruit ...

Oh right ... and what's this? Are these the same?

No no, those are mangoes, and that is a papaya ... in exotic fruit, but it should have a barcode.

Oh, ok ... I'll get the hang of it soon ...

The girl is at least 25, but I figure mango and papaya aren't staple to the average Surreyite. I chip in with a bit of friendly banter about when I used to work in a supermarket, in the days before barcodes and picture tils, and we had to learn long lists of prices and product codes. She is sympathetic, and I assure her that she'll soon get the hang of it.

And then she picks up my one of my peculiar exotic vegetables* and asks what it is.

It's a courgette. I say. Astonished.

Ah! Sorry ... I've only worked here a week ... she offers, as if this is some kind of explanation.

I managed to hold back from advising her that if she ate a few more vegetables then perhaps she wouldn't look so pasty, but it was close.


*Obviously a courgette is technically a fruit and not a vegetable, but I think that would have blown her mind.

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Blogger Joni said...

Okay, I was feeling a little sheepish when I didn't know what a courgette was either, and I kept wondering when you would be getting the zucchini (pictured).

A little wikipedia cleared things right up.

I guess I haven't spend enough time in England.

20 July, 2007 16:05  
Blogger trousers said...

Oh boy I had a very similar experience a few years ago - and I do believe that the mystery vegetable also happened to be a courgette. Amazing innit - it's like, imagine someone seeing a cow in a field and exclaiming, "What the fuck is THAT?"

I mean, where do you start?

20 July, 2007 16:38  
Blogger Stray said...

ah yes! Joni - don't worry, if she'd had the slightest twang of an american accent then zucchini would have sufficed :) But, she didn't recognise it as being that either!

trousers - yes! Omg. It's as if aliens had deposited her on this planet only one week before, and when she said "Sorry, I've only been working here for a week ... " what she was referring to was her job as a data collection agent on Earth, not her position as a til operator in Tesco. Ah. It's so much clearer!


20 July, 2007 16:41  
Blogger Jon M said...

I think Star fruit is a little overrated and should be called celebrity fruit really. Courgettes should be worshipped with garlic butter! :-)

20 July, 2007 20:52  
Blogger That's so pants said...

Hi Stray

The word 'training' springs to mind for some inexplicable reason. Presumably it's more cost effective to just chuck employees out on the shop floor and let them fend for themselves, relying on the customer knowing the products and prices.



20 July, 2007 20:58  
Blogger Misssy M said...

That's why those little laminated barcode cards have photos. I am sure that supermarkets did okay without them for about five days until the teen Saturday staff clocked in.

20 July, 2007 21:10  
Blogger But Why? said...

I had similar issues a few years ago with leeks, aubergines and sweet potatoes. The supermarket answer seems to be to wrap everything in excessive packaging just to be able to slap a bar code on it. I despair...

But x

20 July, 2007 21:53  
Blogger Random Reflections said...

I had never realised that courgettes are a fruit. I feel very ignorant now! I'll have to drop by more often to see what else I have no idea about. Next you'll be telling me there is no Father Christmas or tooth fairy...

21 July, 2007 08:34  
Blogger Poetess said...




21 July, 2007 12:18  
Blogger Caroline said...


I have had a similar experience with a watermelon! Really really!

Hi honey. Hope you're ok and having a fun weekend.

22 July, 2007 10:36  
Blogger Drak said...

"I have had a similar experience with a watermelon! Really really!"

Now that's something to be quoted wildly out of context if ever I saw it.

I had a shopping list that came out as a receipt of 'Misc.' and 'Other grocery' once, because the person on the till was too afraid to ask what things were and just asked how much they cost..

24 July, 2007 18:28  
Blogger Ms Melancholy said...

I am failing the fruit and vegetable test quite miserably, over here. They all taste fab, but no idea what they are called (apart from the mangosteen, which is quite delicious...). Pointing does just fine, though.

01 August, 2007 05:48  
Blogger Stray said...

jon m - worshipping courgettes ... mmm.

Ms Pants - it does doesn't it? Perhaps this is what they would call "on the job training"? I'm sure Tesco can't afford to take a small cut in their huge profits to actually train people in these things. (My conscience is actually pinging at me now because although it's fun to slag off Tesco they do have an excellent staff retention rate, fairly high employee satisfaction levels and a really good policy on employment of older people and those with disabilities compared with most major employers in the UK. *sigh* So much more fun to stick the boot in ... )

Misssy M - that's what so weird. I'd have said this girl was in her mid 20s, and the lovely lad who was helping her didn't look a day over 18.

But why? - yes. Yes yes. If they really need to do things with barcodes, give us those really flimsy bags to bag things up in, and put the stickers next to the produce.

Random Reflections - er. It's worse than that babe, Inspector Gadget was a hoax!

Poetess - lovely to have new visitors, glad you enjoyed the blog. However, as I've already pointed out - it's not a Youth of today type issue. The lovely lad beside her knew ... and she was a grown woman, not much younger than me. And my grandfather probably couldn't recognise a mango either ... though he might get a courgette!

Caroline & Drak Are you two doing a comedy double act?

Ms M You are excused for now (have to admit I had to google the mangosteen - apparently they were illegal in the US until last week! you are soooo cutting edge! ), but I shall be testing you on your exotic fruit learning when you get back. Particularly on what things taste like as apparently getting a real fresh mangosteen in the UK is almost impossible ...

02 August, 2007 09:29  
Anonymous Carlo said...

Good Job! :)

27 June, 2008 07:53  

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