Brawls over reduced lobsters and all the other ridiculous things M&S workers will know to be true

Green and black forever

What a privileged teen you were if you were able to say you worked in Marks and Spencer. Your Mum beamed with pride when you handed her a discount card, you treated your friends by favouring them over the elderly when it came to reducing ISB, and the managers were young and fun.

Life was sick, and the British institution was by far the best place to work for a part time job. These are all the weird and wonderful things you know to be true if you worked in M&S. Our green and black uniform has never looked better.

Your colleagues are either teenagers or OAPs

Your tight knit friendship group which made all those long morning and evening shifts feel bearable consisted of your Nan’s friend from badminton, school mates and your retired primary school teacher. An eclectic mix of personalities and the large age range made for interesting topical debates, and far funnier anecdotes to tell people at your next part time job. Staff parties were always lit.

Pocket searches didn’t follow the ‘innocent until proven guilty’ rule

It is a worldwide truth that if you work in a supermarket, a rouge cherry may find its way into your hand. You cannot ignore or neglect the cherry. It then follows that you then need to find a home for the cherry stone, where your large, accommodating fleece pockets are the obvious choice. Just be prepared for when management ask you to undergo a routine pocket search.

The Reduction Rush made you hate humanity

The Rush, The Rampage, The Rumpus – the switch that flicks in a customer’s head when a product has a yellow sticker slapped on it. Most stable adults would show minimal interest in a bread bun or basil plant, however when said bread bun or basil plant is reduced by 15 per cent, customers lose their shit. Families are broken apart over a lobster reduction – not even Orkney, but dressed Canadian lobster halves!

Tastes shit at full price

The older customers absolutely loved you, and you loved them back

Everyone had their few regulars who would offer to buy you reduced food and put it behind the manager’s desk. You listened intently to their stories, and knew all the details of their late spouse’s untimely death. They honestly treated you better than your own parents did, which is why you loved doing their Carry to Car.

Name me another part-time retail job where you bond with the elderly this much, I’ll wait.

The freezer ruined friendships

If you lock your colleagues in here, they will do the same to you, for a longer period of time. Hell hath well and truly, frozen over.


Blue Harbour menswear is not just reserved for old men – Gandy and other male models pictured around the store were a daily reminder of this.

Catch me with my M&S boyf

Date rotating and the politics surrounding it

Unlucky if you had to reduce bread and cakes, because you’d better believe that son of a bitch aisle hasn’t been date rotated properly since Bolland was CEO. Everyone knows it was Nigel on morning fill who just throws the croissant on the shelf without checking the dates. How does he expect customers to find the croissants dated today, if they’ve been thrown to the back of the shelf with all the love of one of the Ops guys chucking flattened boxes in the baler?

You can always guarantee that the Food on the Move sandwiches will have been date rotated to an inch within their life though.

{{See also: The Bain of My Life}}

The Temp/Permanent hierarchy was legit and you knew your place

The food chain goes like this: Three month Christmas temp, three month Christmas temp with a contract renewal making it a sixth month contract, renewed Christmas temp who’s been made permanent, and finally Permanent staff.

If you were particularly mean, Temps would be made to clean up all the spills, and would always be the first to get sent to the Cafe when they needed extra wait staff.

Most part-timers start as Christmas temps, but only the best will progress to Permanent staff via the trapping rungs of the corporate ladder.

Evening fill is obviously the best shift, but you have to deal with pulling forward

If you received a special commendation for your efforts in pulling forward, you’ve made it in life. Forget other successes, the birth of your first child will seem wholly irrelevant after this. Morning fill just isn’t the same – there’s a sense of urgency and desperation whilst you work. If Produce and Protein aren’t out before 9am, everyone’s necks are on the line.

You turn into a chain-smoking gossip on your breaks

I’m not sure if it was something they put into the free toast and fruit provided in the staff canteen, but young people seem to transform into school-playground type busybodies up in everyone’s business. Whether it be chat about who’s started seeing who, which manager is moving store, or still re-telling scandals and stories from the last staff party, there was always news to gossip about.

Dine In Week

There’s a ripple of electricity through the section managers, and the usually distant area managers are getting in their cars with full riot gear ready to use in the boot. It’s Dine In Week: customers have their Sparks Cards at the ready, primed to claim their free Champagne upgrade for only ten pounds more, and the rotisserie chickens and key lime pies are set to sell out within twenty minutes of the store opening. Let the carnage ensue, whilst you and your friends cower in the stock room.

Bonus M&S employee points if you smash all the bottles on the Dine In Wine tiers.

Shoplifters were a welcome interlude to an otherwise uneventful shift

Watching a 12-year-old being escorted up to the CCTV room will undoubtedly be talked about for the coming week, as I’m sure it is in other retail jobs. However, this being M&S, it is highly scandalous and news-worthy for the customers who would take great pleasure in nodding to their shopping partner across the aisle in their mobility scooter mirror.

Have to get your kicks somehow I guess, and this was probably the most drama they experienced all week.

Turkey desk on Christmas Eve was the most stressful job ever, don’t fight me

At Christmas, M&S workers diligently map and plot all the turkeys which need delivering to families in the area. If you fuck it up, a family’s Christmas is ruined –  or so they shout at you over the Collections desk.

You’ll never get a better part-time, and your Mum will never get over losing her discount card

Oxford Brookes University