Jacking Up The Tension

Many moons ago, around 19 years worth of moons if truth be told (and that fact scares the life out of me), I was working stacking shelves in a big Glasgow supermarket.

The supermarket chain was opening another branch about 30 miles away and shelves had to be stacked doublequickplus for the opening, so we were offered time and a half and travel expenses to go and do a sort of blitz (it was described in that way) to get the shelves full and get the shop open on time.

The thing that complicated the matter however was that apparently filming shop adverts is easier if there aren’t any actual customers around, so they tend to do them in places that aren’t open to the public yet.

The idea was that they would film the adverts in the falsely prepared fresh vegetable/fruit aisle (with produce that would all later be thrown out) whilst we were working away in the other aisles out of camera shot.

The supermarket in question was, at that time, conducting an advertising campaign with a little boy called Jack.

Jack was indeed a very little boy and the fact that they were exposing him to these long days was obviously distressing him more than a little. So much so in fact that they had to hire an entertainer, clown-cum-juggler-cum-puppeteer type, to stop him crying during the 12 hour days he was having to do.

The problem that the other staff and myself had were not the cries of Jack nor the bitchings of our normal bosses (even though those always grated too).

No, the fact was that the director of these adverts seemed to think he was making Spartacus or Apocalypse Now or something and consistently threw worse tantrums than the kid.

Comments such as “Why have I GOT FUCKING GROCERY BOYS IN MY WAY”  or “GET THESE FUCKING LITTLE IDIOTS OUT OF MY WAY” delivered loudly in a strong English accent, in front of Scottish youngsters doing hard physical work against the clock, won’t necessarily breed a spirit of cooperation.

Especially when you’re just making an advert for a fucking supermarket.

Eventually however, we all sorted it out and got into a routine.

It went like this…

Every time he said “ACTION” one of us in another aisle would drop a large case of glass things in order that they would break loudly and ruin the shot. We would then use the reset time to shower affection on the kid and hope he was ok.

This continued until the solution that worked was arrived at. Those making the advert and us doing the work did not do so contemporaneously.

Separation worked. We weren’t better together.

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