To beat the long queues outside shops these days, Sam went early to our local DIY store yesterday.  He was first in the social distancing queue, and had ten minutes before the store opened to chat to the ‘guard’ on duty outside who had the job of ensuring that only 50 people were in the store at any one time.

Sam said that the ‘guard’ was an old boy obviously coming up to retirement age.  He told Sam that his boss had given him the job of counting 50 people in and out, as the younger employees couldn’t seem to do it.  The youngsters were a mixture of graduates with degrees who couldn’t find any other jobs, and school leavers or twenty somethings with GCSEs and A Levels.  Apparently the old boy didn’t have a qualification to his name other than ‘life’ and experience.

The youngsters erred on the side of caution as they kept losing count.  They stopped people going in unnecessarily, with the result that the store remained half empty.  It made me wonder whether maybe they were surreptitiously looking down at their phones as they were standing outside away from any supervisor’s gaze.  Anyway, the upshot of it all was that they couldn’t do it.

The old boy grinned at Sam and asked him if he could guess his foolproof plan to make sure 50 people were in the store at any one time.  I would have guessed maybe a counter, but then again that wouldn’t have subtracted people coming out.  Before Sam could think of an answer, the old boy gave away his secret; he kept 50 trolleys close at hand, and gave one to every person that went through the door!  As they came out they returned the trolley to him.  When all the trolleys were gone, then 50 people were in the store and nobody else could go in.

Sam laughed and felt like shaking his hand.