The Argos catalogue
The Argos catalogue was the 1980s Amazon.com
My brother and I used to love looking at the digital watches, and of course, the toys. We tormented ourselves yearning for a Sega Mega Drive. We’d have settled for a Master System.
We never got either, but later in life I did get to see behind the velvet curtain...
Comedian Jasper Carrot used to do a routine about Argos – how moronic and brain-dead the staff seemed to be. ‘And they’re the ones they let you see! Imagine what the ones round the back must be like’.
That always made me chuckle because for many of my school and Christmas holidays, I was one of those people. And I can tell you that working in the stock-room was WAY more fun than working on the tills, or god-forbid if the rota ever assigned you to, the customer service desk.
‘Upstairs picking’ was always the cushiest job. When someone ordered an item that was stored in the upstairs stockroom, the machine printed out a little ticket with the item’s catalogue number and store-room location on it, and you had to go and pick it and send it down the conveyor belt.
3 tales from Argos
The Business card
One of my colleagues was a guy called Trevor Watts. Absolutely lovely chap. He left Argos to get a full time job in an office. I can’t remember the name of the company – let’s just use a fictitious one like ‘Fisherwicks’ –, but his was one of the first business cards I ever saw that had someone’s email address in it (this would have been back in the early 1990s).
I can remember the hilarity that business card generated because, and I’m omitting all of the other content for comedic effect here, it looked like this:
The First Aid kit
Even as I type this, I know you won’t believe me. But it actually happened.
One day, the only trained first-aider among the staff members knocked herself unconscious when the first aid kit fell off the shelf and hit her on the head.
I swear that to be true, according to the best of my recollection. She worked in the Elizabeth Duke jewellery section and the first aid kit was stored in the separate jewellery stockroom.
You see, you don't believe me do you?
This not so much of an anecdote as a class action waiting to happen. I was one of the plaintiffs, and I’m sure there are thousands of other silent victims out there.
It’s a bit of a sensitive subject, in more ways than one.
Let me just say that the conveyor belt that sent items from the top to the lower stockroom had a big motor in it and generated a lot of static electricity.
And I also note that the Argos uniform trousers were made of a cheap acrylic or polyester blend.
The conveyor belt was approximately groin height and you would often brush up against it when getting things on or off. Often when I got home after a shift, it hurt when I did a wee.
Fortunately I did go on to father two children later in life, so I can only assume that the damage wasn’t permanent.