I wandered past the Tesco on Bishopsgate yesterday completely parched. It was 1pm, I had yet to feel liquid touch my lips for the day, and felt dehydrated, dizzy, with the prospect of a 25 minute tube journey home; naturally I was angling after some hydration. Choosing tesco’s only for its convenience I innocently wandered in. As I did so I turned around and wandered straight back out of the store. I’d had a vivid flashback and remembered that I was currently banned from there, fearing that a verbal altercation would use up any remaining reserves of saliva.
My exile comes as a result of stealing some apples, and before any right wingers out there wish for me to be strung up and fed apples into every orifice until I suffocate to death I have an explanation for my actions. On the day in question I was in a huge rush, had just been working and had to get to the pub to meet a friend (hatred for lateness rather than thirst for alcohol the motivating factor). The Tesco Metro in Bishopsgate has 1 manned checkout to every 68 self service machines so there was only one choice available, to apply every last ounce of available brainpower to try and beat the machine, very much like Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Terminator but with an added brain. As I swiped and reloaded as quickly and accurately as my hands would allow I realised that maybe Arnie’s brawn is the best way to defeat a machine as I was moving considerably faster than the machine in front of me. If it’s beeps were any slower a team of paramedics (or computer nerds) would have rushed through the doors and tried to resuscitate the stupid grey box. I came to my last item, the apples. As any self respecting human being would do when buying lovely perky and crunchy top of the range pink ladies (apples) I instinctively tried to fool the machine and put them through under ‘B’ for ‘Basics Apples’. 5 seconds of furious eyescanning later I decided to take the hit and searched under ‘P’. 10 seconds of sweaty panic later and I hit the ‘A’, still remaining frugal and hoping that ‘Apples Organic’ wasn’t the only option. Nothing. Final resort was ‘G’ for Granny Smith, and as I pondered that apples being called pink ladies and granny smith might be one and the same thing the clock had ticked on further. There was no intent to the theft, I was just so frustrated that I threw the apples openly into one of my bags and left, almost challenging security to haul me over.
And that they did. With maximum humiliation. Waiting til after I’d hooked up my ipod inside the store he hauled me over as soon as I’d stepped outside and into the passing crowds. The following altercation went thus: smugness on his part, defensive innocence on my part, increased smugness on his part as the plot unravelled, aggressive fury on my part at the inept system, nodding smugness on his part, followed by a furious tirade against the moral merits of his job, tesco and capitalism itself. Clear that my only choice was to accept a store ban and to pay for the apples at the cigarette counter I made a point of paying for them with a £5 note and putting the change in the charity box in front of his face, with further moralistic musings to accompany the action. I felt a little like Robin Hood and thus was disgusted at my subconscious for forcing me to shake my way out of the store.
Though on the whole I abide by the laws the government impose on me, however much I disagree with a lot of them, I still refuse to believe that Tesco’s can ever be a victim of theft. I think it’s a genuine paradox that a multi national company that bullies smaller independent businesses, squeezes the life out of their suppliers, routinely throws away tonnes of food, and routinely wastes food and packaging can be a victim of theft. I’m not saying people should steal, but there’s a thought that the less profits Tesco make the better. I also believe that having a good heart and being obedient conformist members of society won’t make a difference, but having a good heart and having anarchic drive might. Stealing apples would seem to make little difference either way, but on the subject of their self service machines I feel like sending the following letter:
‘Dear Tesco, please find enclosed my invoice for the tax year 2011/2012. Self service checkpoint, 6 hrs labour, £10 per hour discounted rate, total £60. You can choose to pay me as a lump sum or discount it off my future purchases, to be made at Tesco Bishopsgate’