Thursday, October 04, 2007

Beam Me Up Scotty

Man I have missed y'all sooooooooo much. I've spent the last three weeks of my life trapped in Wal-Mart hell. Third shift was seriously kicking my ass for a while but I have adjusted pretty well now. Of course, when I am off all I want to do is sleep and since they saw fit to work me 8 days straight and then split my two off days that is probably what I will do a lot of today. But not before I get out this blog post which I have been dying to write.

Wal-Mart is a trip! Not the job itself but many of the people I work with. And not a trip in a good haha kind of way either. I guess it is somewhat universal that the people you work with are what generally make a job suck. That has been my experience with just about every public job I have ever had and the lower the wages the worse the attitudes. I actually make a lot for a cashier position and the work is gravy. I run a register for a few hours a night, clean the registers and do returns. Returns, by the way, are all the shit that you customers decide at the last minute you don't want and you place frozen biscuits in the say pet area or something like that. Not complaining or anything...I do it too truth be told. At times I also work as the greeter at the door. That job is usually so dull and boring that I think I'd rather have bamboo splinters driven under my nails for entertainment. It can be a great deal of fun though when it is busy. People seem utterly shocked to see someone at the door who smiles at them and asks how they are doing. They also seem to appreciate being thanked for their business on the way out. I have had many of them offer me tips after coming through my line or being greeted at the door. However, company policy forbids me from taking any tips whatsoever. That sucks. I could probably make as much in tips as I do in my check.

I came in one day in the middle of my second week and all of the CSM's (Customer Service Managers) were praising my work, telling me all of the big managers were extremely happy and were saying things in the back like after my 90 days are up I could eaisly have any management position in the store that I wanted, that they wish they had more like me, that I work really hard, don't ride the clock or take long breaks and lunches and just all around warm fuzzy stuff about my performance. All of what they said is true, but it is hard to feel too proud because looking good when most of my competition are lazy, ill-tempered, bovines is way too easy.

One bovine in particular is really driving me insane. She is a total nasty skank with poor personal hygine, zero work ethic and all sorts of other problems that make her being in a cashier position a very bad choice. I cannot for the life of me understand why she is in that position. She never smiles at customers or tries to engage them in conversation. To make matters worse she recently married a guy on the floor crew and they work the same shift. They have already been caught fucking in the parking lot, on every break they sneak off and ring each others necks with hickeys, and it is impossible to keep them away from each other in the store. Quite frankly, if I were the manager who caught them fucking in their van on their lunch break I would have called the lawn and garden center to bring me over a water hose to seperate them, just like two dogs tied up in the front yard, and then I would have fired them. The guy she married reminds me of Lenny in "Of Mice and Men" by Stienbeck. A rock has more brains. When I think of them the song 'Flagpole Sitta' by Harvey Danger comes to mind

"Been around the world and found
That only stupid people are breeding
The cretins cloning and feeding
And I don't even own a TV"

If you put the girl (actually she is a fully grown woman) to putting out returns she will abandon her buggy just about anywhere and sneak off to find her husband. They then proceed to the fitting rooms or behind the customer service desk to make out or fuck or god knows what. The other day she announced that she is pregnant. YUCK! I call it the "Wal-Mart Breeding Program." If she is assigned a register she turns out her light, finds a soap opera digest or an Enquirer, bends down so no one can see her and pretends she isn't really at work.

Last week those of us who work on the front end were without a CSM for one night and Ms. Skank really put on a show. She took a 45 minute break on her 15 minute break, an hour and a half lunch followed by an immediate 20 minute bathroom break, followed by another 45 minute 15 minute break. I WAS PISSED! Returns were piling up, customers were getting pissed because there was only one register open and this gal was no where to be found. I decided that it was time to utilize the open door policy and tell a night manager what kind of problem we were having with her. So I did. And....I was told to call her to the front and tell her what was what. I declined that offer. I said I am not a manager and that running stupid bovines around the store was above my pay grade. However, if he would like to pay me a managers pay and give me manager powers then I would be happy to drive her about with a cattle prod.

The next day I went in an hour early and went directly back to the main managers office and told him what was going on. I introduced myself and he smiled real big and said, "Yes Mrs. Nall I know who you are and I have been hearing some really wonderful things about you. How can I help you today?" I told him about how this cashier can't be put on returns because all she does is sneak off and make out with that thing she is married to. About how she can't be assigned a register because she turns off the light, ducks down and reads tabloids. About how they have been caught breeding on the clock, about how a customer with small children will one day walk around the corner and catch them in the act and be traumatized for life. "I thought this was suppossed to be a family store and I don't recall a breeding program on company time as being one of the fringe benefits." I told the manager that I have a very strong work ethic, that even though Wal-Mart is far from the most glamourous job in the world I still do my very best. I feel they offered me a set rate of pay for a set amount of work and when I accepted that offer I agreed to actually do the work. I told him that even though I do everything I am suppossed to do and most of skank's work as well that at the end of my last shift I had to leave work with the Customer Service desk piled high with returns and many of the registers not cleaned. "That reflects badly on everyone on that shift who works up front, regardless of how much work I actually did it looks bad and so I look bad and I really hate to look bad."

He asked me what I would do in this situation. I told him that I have tons of management experience and that I would have fired her the first time I caught her breeding on the clock. He then said....wait are you sitting down? He said, "Well, maybe we should just assign her to a register full time and leave the returns to the more motivated people. It's a team around here you know and we all have to help each other." I bout fell out of my chair. "You must not have heard me," I said. "When she is assigned to a register she turns off the lights, settles down with a National Enquirer and pretends she is not taking customers. Assigning her to a register will not in any way address this problem. If that is all you can do then you might as well clock her in, set her in the office for 9 hours and then clock her out because that is about all it amounts to right now anyway. As for this being a team effort I am a team player and will help any of my co-workers that need help but in order to help this one she actually has to do something first and that isn't what is currently happening." He said, "Well what would you like me to do?" "Your fucking job" were the first words that came to mind and I quickly bit them back. "You are the store manager and you have infinite methods of dealing with this problem at your disposal. You might consider putting them on different shifts. It is always a bad personnel decision to hire a husband and wife team for the same shift...especially one that has only been married a few months. Barring that you could pay me double what I am making because I do her job and mine and I won't complain anymore or you can approach this from some other direction, but either way someone needs to do something because it is very demoralizing for everyone else on the front line to bust ass and have her get paid money for work we are actually doing." Later on he paged her to the office, her husband too, and said some sort of magic words to them. The magic lasted all of one night and she is back to her old ways. I could smash her. Could smash upper management too for acting the way they do.

The next day my CSM wanted to know what I had told the manager and I told her. She said she had talked to everyone on that shift the night before and they all said the same things that I did. She also told me that this person in question has "fetal alcohol syndrome" and that is why management doesn't want to do anything to her. Apparently Wal-Mart has this policy of hiring mentally retarded people into positions they can't do and making everyone else pay the price. Fetal alcohol syndrome my ass!! She has lazy, nasty, white-trash, welfare, food stamp syndrome and in my eyes that is not a disability. If she can't do the job then move the bitch away from my end of the store because I can't deal with her.

Some of the people I work with are great. However, the mentality of the rest of them goes something like this..."Rasslin, NASCAR and high school drama." If you like either of those three things and can carry on a conversation in the break room about them then you will fit right in. I, however, am having a hard time. Like beam me up Scotty there is no intelligent life down here! I stick out like a sore thumb.

Not all of my hours spent at Wal-Mart are spent in a boiling fury and intellectual de-evolution. I actually manage to have fun. I love my customers. To me good customer service is a performance art and I am a great performer. I got theatrics, a sense of humor and the ability to engage almost anyone in a conversation based on items they purchase. Dog food is my favorite because I get to ask what kind of dog they have and then I get to talk about my snoot. A customer buying only tampons or condoms is a little harder to engage though.

I like my little hispanic customers a lot. They always look so stunned and grateful when I smile at them and ask how they are doing. I take it that doesn't happen often. Many of them can speak a little english but when talking among themselves they speak spanish. Last week I learned how to tell what one of them was saying based solely on the inflection of his voice. Two hispanic men came thru my line and the first one had two items. One of them was from the pharmacy side of the store and was something like generic prilosec. The other item was a coke. I rang up his goods and the total was almost $50. He looked over at his buddy with a stunned look and said something in spanish. I cracked up because I knew he had to have said, "Damn that shit is high" just by the way he said it. I asked the one that spoke english if that was what he had said and he cracked up, I mean holding his gut laughing at me and then said, "Yes that is almost exactly what he said." Then he said, "You speak spanish?" I said, "No...but I know that is what I would have said if a coke and some heartburn pills had come to $50."

Then last week we had a streaker. No kidding. A young black woman came waltzing thru the doors with nothing but a very short t-shirt on. She proceeded down the main aisle in the grocery department, ass-a-shinin, got what she came after and walked thru the check out line like there wasn't a thing in the world wrong with busting up in Wal-Mart with your ass cheeks flappin'. Other customers were stunned, all pointing, laughing and covering their mouths. I admired the streaker myself. She certainly created a buzz and reduced the boredom factor exponentially.

There are also a lot of cops who come into the store on third shift. One woman comes in around 5 every morning for something. Last week she showed up at my register in uniform with a huge box of donuts. I told her she was just begging for someone to make a joke. She said, "Huh?" Uh oh, thought I , a cop that doesn't get a donut joke. I didn't bother trying to explain.

Then we have the recognizer/announcer customer. He came through my line one evening. I had a pretty long line and all of the CSM's were up front. He gets to my register and he says in a very loud voice, "Hey ain't you the marijuana lady that ran for governor last year?" "Yep that's me," I said. "I just saw you on TV with Hannity and Colmes a few weeks ago and I voted for you. I am so happy to meet you in person." All of the CSM's heard the marijuana bit....but they all knew who I am and what I do before they hired me so I was bothered not at all. There have been a number of customers who have recognized me.

There is so much more I could write about but right now I think I need a nap.


Don said...

ROFLMAO!!! Lo, you're quite a riot sometimes. I wish I were able to get up there and walk through your checkout line in my birthday suit to see whether you'd pass out, give me a hug and a wink, or call the cops.

Sweet dreams. :-)

Anonymous said...

Ew...Loretta..... I really have a hard time imagining you working at Wal-mart.....

alapoet said...

Loretta, I love your writing style!

Your wry humor and righteous indignation and sparkling intelligence just shine from the page.

Good luck with your Wally World gig...

And whatever you do, keep on writing!

Valis said...

LOL! Great stuff! Really missed your posts the last while.

Good luck with the bovines ;-)

Loretta Nall said...

I get the feeling that there will be plenty to write about based on my experiences as a Wal-Mart cashier.

And Aerial...Wal-Mart may not be the best job on earth but it pays my bills and will pay the tuition for my son to go to the most prestegious math and science school in the state and his fees to be an ambassador to Ireland and England next year. I would literally shovel shit to raise the money to send him.

Marc Scott Emery said...

Your writing is always illuminating....and this time hilarious.

Still another great chapter for One Day in America.

Strange about Aerial condescending in her remarks about working for a living, even if its Wal-Mart. Last I heard, you have kids to feed and a life to lead and last time I checked my moral meter, earning a living at Wal-Mart qualifies as real work for money honestly earned.

Love you, Loretta!