What: Coles Quiet Hour
Where: Banora Point, NSW (Banora Central)
Time 10.30am to 11.30am
Out of sheer curiosity, I went to visit one of my local Coles stores for their quiet hour that runs from 1030 to 1130 on Tuesdays. I could be a little biased since I work for Coles, but I am also on the Autism spectrum so it has its relevance to this blog especially as an adult. I was a couple of minutes in arriving into the Quiet Hour and since I have spent 10 years working for the company, I half knew what to expect. Quiet times usually have happened when the power has gone out and nothing actually works properly.
Today, on walking in I heard no music at all. It was a very quiet store. The only thing I could really hear were the quiet voices of people and the Deli staff talking to customers. No beeps or noises from the checkouts and I wasn’t sure about the lights, but they did seem to be dimmer, but I was wearing sunglasses. I spoke to some reps who come in from other companies who work in the stores and since I knew one of them, I asked what his thoughts to the Quiet hour was. His response was magic. He said he could hear himself think due to the fact the music gets annoying after a while. I came very close to pressing the buttons on the singing Christmas toys to see 1) How loud they would be, 2) If any team members panic due to the noise and 3) How much attention it would receive.
The team members on observation felt like they were happy for the quiet hour especially on the checkouts. I am sure the fridges were quieter. The only loud beep that occurred, which wasn’t an issue was the beep from the paywave. On exiting the store, I noticed something. It was literally louder outside than inside the store. I really do not know how that could be possible, but is an achievement in itself. The noise from traffic, people and Zaraffas coffee shop.
I went to Tweed City to see how much of a difference it was from a quiet store to a loud one and Tweed City Coles was louder being in a shopping centre and brighter. I think they would love to have a quiet hour too. I happen to have a day off and I work for that particular store so I know what its like. It could work in all stores if it is supported. Even if you remove the ‘Autism’ from the quiet hour, I bet much of the community would support the concept as then they are not blasted by the music or any huge noises, but staff have to be able to work as well so everyone has to work together.
While this concept has been supported by many within the online world, I have not actually seen support from the major groups like the Australian Autism Asperger Network or individuals, I don’t call sharing news articles as support through Facebook. Maybe its something that is way over their heads or they just love the negatives or waiting to be proud over making sure it falls apart. They need to be vocal in their support and the silence has been deafening so far outside of ASPECT. As an individual, I am expressing my opinion for it to stay and continue. Christmas is fast approaching as it will be a great test. People on the autism spectrum also need to be patient with the staff members as many would not know much about autism. Speak to them and be civil as rudeness is remembered. That will be relayed pretty quickly as everyone would know. Make sure you know what times the Quiet Hour finishes as I would expect it to finish exactly on the dot and everything goes back to normal.