Public Humiliation

Yesterday I got “told off” in Tesco, in front of other customers. I go every week with my very large trolley bag and do my shopping, I’ve had the same routine for years. Several years ago Green Clubcard points were introduced – use your own bags and get points for being good, these then can be exchanged for more goods from their store. I was happy with that. The lady on the checkout at the time said that my bag was the equivalent to 8 carrier bags, I could have 8 points. It seemed reasonable. For years the checkout people always said it was 8 points (or occasionally 10 if it was very full). I didn’t ever question it.

Technology has moved on and now I use the same bag but load it as I go scanning all of the items myself. Yesterday I did my shopping, filled up my very large bag and had a few extra items just sitting in the trolley. I went to the checkout and just as I finished a loud voice said, “You typed in 8 bags.” I agreed, I had. “You only used 1 bag.” I tried to explain, I always typed 8, I’d previously been told it was 8 carrier bags worth… My arguments didn’t hold water. 1 bag is 1 bag. I tried to justify my actions, she was having none of it. I even tried suggesting that if I’d picked up 8 new bags from the counter when I’d walked in and then typed 8 that that would have been acceptable to her as she wouldn’t have known that I hadn’t brought them with me. Yes she’d have been happy, I’d have used 8 bags!

It made me think about how some of the children must feel. They are caught doing something wrong. How often do we not understand their point of view? I know we try but I’m sure to them their logic and their arguments make sense. But we know best.

Part of the problem yesterday was that there were lots of people also checking out their shopping, lots of people who could see this awful woman trying to defraud Tesco of its profits by incorrectly understanding the rules. Apparently the rules changed about 3 years ago – I didn’t know – but ignorance of the law is no defence.

Do we ever do this in school, tell children off, inform that that they’ve broken a rule which we know and they don’t? Hopefully not but I can see that if a child is absent on a day when the others are informed of a change that they wouldn’t know. I felt awful and small and wanted to fight my corner, to explain. She didn’t want to hear.

Could it have been done differently? Yes. She could have asked quietly whether I was aware that a bag was a bag was a bag whatever its size, she could have acknowledged that she understood that I felt it was a slightly silly rule, she could have said never mind this this time but could I change what I did next time… lots of small alterations would have made the situation better.

I am an adult, I remained calm – I’m not prone to screaming, shouting, hitting out or absconding but I can see how a child in a similar situation could react like that. Hopefully I don’t normally behave like that when dealing with children I will certainly try to  remember this when faced with a child protesting their innocence in school. I will try harder to listen and to deal with things away from an audience.

Next week in Tesco, we’ll see, I might try and ask a different person what number I type in or maybe I’ll shop somewhere else!

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Public Humiliation

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