"Anna Sam spent eight years as a checkout girl. [Her book] is a witty look at what it's really like to work in a supermarket: the relentless grind and less-than-perfect working conditions, along with people-watching and encounters with every kind of customer from the bizarre to the downright rude."
That's the blurb on the back of Checkout: A Life on the Tills, which is apparently "a huge international bestseller, published in ten languages." Apart from the fact that Anna Sam has given voice to the inevitable frustrations and tribulations of those who work on the tills - and will therefore speak for so many other "beepeuses" - I can't explain the book's success. I was really looking forward to learning about life in the supermarket, but I've read magazine articles which have covered the subject in greater depth. The humour was weak, the endless litany of customers' irritating or unpleasant foibles - albeit recounted with a somewhat affected cheeriness - too monotonous, and the occasional unusual 'incident' more dull than dramatic.
Translated from the French and heavily anglicised in terms of currency, brand names, etc., it's a slight book, in content as well as physical dimensions, and that's a pity because it could have been so much meatier. This is prime territory for a study of human behaviour/nature as observed from behind the conveyor belt, but also for a look at how the whole gigantic supermarket 'machine' works. While manning the checkout cannot be the easiest job in the world, it could surely make a book more interesting than this one - after all, most of us shop in these places, we know what it's like from our side of the counter, tell us a bit more about it than we can easily see for ourselves while queuing up with a trolley-load of groceries!