The other day I was poking around the Associated Content forums and I don’t remember what the topic was but I brought up the fact that I once worked at Wal-mart and I thought, “Hey, there’s a topic I can write about!” So I thought I would share with you my experiences with Wal-Mart. That’s right I’m going places Geraldo would never dare to go.
I.C.S. seems like three harmless little letters but looks can be deceiving. When I was first hired by Wal-Mart I was told I would be working in the I.C.S. I didn’t know what that meant at first but I learned quickly that I.C.S. stood for errand boy. I’m not sure how exactly since there is not an I, C, or S in the words errand boy. I was told the first day what the I.C.S. job included. For the first day we did exactly what was in that job description but every day after that the I.C.S. did something completely different. One day we stocked shelves, one day we did inventory, one day we were sent out back to sweep up broken glass behind the building. We took down signs, we put up signs, we did the hokey pokey and we turned ourselves around. Everyday at about 4 o’clock the people responsible for loading the trucks wouldn’t have enough people. Which I always wondered about; if they never had enough people to unload trucks then why didn’t they hire more truck loaders? Probably because they had us, the I.C.S. errand boys, to do it for them. That’s right we unloaded trucks. We loaded trucks. Some of us drove trucks. We played football in the parking lot (although that was during the break so I don’t think that counts). When our little puny Wal-mart decided to move into a new Super Wal-mart the I.C.S. errand boys got to go to the building and clean it out. We got to collect merchandise from all sections of the old Wal-mart. We loaded all the merchandise onto trucks. We unloaded the merchandise at the new Wal-Mart. We put up the displays. We put the merchandise on displays. The seven of us in our group pretty much single handedly moved an entire Wal-mart. Actually I guess since there was seven of us it wasn’t single handedly it was seven handedly. Or do you count both hands? Fourteen handedly? After we had completely moved the old Wal-Mart to the new Wal-Mart they realized they only brought the two buggy pushers they had at the old store, so we got to do that too. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind working hard. I just would like to know at the beginning of the day what I’m going to be doing that day. So if you get a job at Wal-mart and they offer you an I.C.S. position then avoid it like the plague. Better yet, avoid it like something worse than the plague; avoid it like Paul Walker movies.
Since we’re on the topic of buggies, let me dispose of some beliefs right now. There are no buggy fairies. Those buggies that you leave in the middle of the parking lot, somebody has to collect those. Now you may say well “that’s your job” but it isn’t. Our job is to collect the buggies from the buggy racks not walk every inch of the parking lot collecting all the buggies strewn about. Here are some other buggy etiquette tips that I learned while pushing buggies:
1. If you leave a buggy in the middle of the parking lot and you think “well it’s not moving so this buggy isn’t going to move” then let me inform you of something. When the heating of the Earth’s surface is uneven there is horizontal movement of air called wind. Also, something with wheels can be moved very easily with this wind. Just because your buggy is not moving when you leave it doesn’t mean it won’t ever move.
2. If you find a grassy knoll and decide “I’ll put two of my buggy wheels up on there and then it won’t move because it will be on grass” then I’ve got news for you. Those wheels will tear up the grass. People are hired to take care of that grass. How would you like it if someone came to your office walked up to your desk and then just threw your papers all about. That wouldn’t be fun at all would it?
3. If you’re one of those people who never put your buggy away then you have no right to complain on that day when a buggy hits your car and puts a dent in it. Because it’s people like you who are the cause of the dents.
4. Wal-Mart has plenty of signs that say they are not responsible for a dent in your car in the parking lot. If you complain to anybody who works at Wal-mart they’re not going to listen. You should especially not complain to a buggy pusher. They are not the Flash they can not collect all one hundred and fifty buggies all at once. When 80% of the customers leave their buggies lying around buggies are going to hit cars. Live with it or don’t shop there.
5. If you’re really so lazy that you can’t walk 15 feet to put a buggy away then park right next to the buggy rack, then you won’t have to go as far.
6. When you’re driving and see a buggy pusher pushing a row of buggies; stop! What they are doing is extremely strenuous and much harder and slower than pushing a little pedal with your foot. It won’t hurt you to stop for 10 seconds. Also, when you have a row of buggies and suddenly have to stop you can’t control the whole row, often the first four or five buggies will go rolling away. Then you’ll be mad that buggies hit your car when it was your fault for not stopping for them.
7. Buggies are not garbage cans. If you decide you just can’t wait to open your merchandise and you have to do it on the way to the car, don’t leave your packaging in the buggy. And never under no circumstances should you change your baby and leave the dirty diaper in the buggies. You sick freaks!
There is one thing I quickly learned at Wal-mart. If it wasn’t Wal-mart it’d be closed. The management at the Wal-Mart I worked at was so horrible that if it was a normal store they would go out of business. But since it’s a Wal-Mart everyone is going to go there regardless of how poorly run it is. Remember the part where I said we had to keep switching jobs in I.C.S. Well there is one thing I didn’t mention. At no point did we have the same hours everyday. Now when I say that I don’t mean that it said on our schedule we worked from 8 to 5 one day and then 9 to 6 the next day. Our schedule said 8 to 5 everyday, but that’s not when we worked. Each time the I.C.S. switched jobs our times would switch but our schedule wouldn’t. We would have to call in to get our hours. Some days we would show up and they would tell us to go back home and come back in 2 hours. This wasn’t a big deal to me because I lived less than 10 minutes away, but one of my friends lived an hour away and often completely wasted a trip. It got so confusing that one of the guys on the I.C.S. got fired because he didn’t show up to work one day. Problem is they told him not to come to work that day! But apparently they changed their mind and wanted him to work and they were expecting him to come in on his day off and check to see if he was working even after they told him the day before that he wasn’t working.
Every department has regular workers, then a department manager and then the manager. Once I was stocking shelves in a certain department and I noticed the manager of the entire store had stopped and was watching me. He stood there and watched me for about an hour and then finally disappeared. Do you know where he went? He went in the back of the store to find the department manager so that he could tell the department manager to come tell me I was doing it wrong. Ok first of all you can talk to me. I realize you’re the manager and I’m just the lowly I.C.S. guy but I don’t have leprosy, my eyes won’t turn you to stone and I’m not radioactive. You can tell me I’m doing something wrong. But if the manager absolutely has to run his messages through somebody else why didn’t he do it when I started instead of waiting for me to do it wrong for an hour!
As I mentioned earlier when the new Super Wal-mart opened they moved the I.C.S. to pushing buggies because they didn’t have enough buggy pushers. Ok now let’s see here, before the new Wal-mart there was the Wal-mart that was not open 24 hours a day. That store was small enough that they only needed one buggy pusher at a time; one during the day and one at night. Now they move to a new Wal-mart. The store is three times as big, the parking lot is three times as big and they are now open twenty four hours a day. They couldn’t predict ahead of time that they were going to need new buggy pushers when the new store opened?
They aren’t as nice as they look
It was none other than the creator of Wal-mart himself, Sam Walton, who came up with the idea of hiring little old ladies to greet people at the door of Wal-mart. You might pass these little ladies and for the split second you come in contact they could seem like the sweetest little ladies you’ve ever met. But if you work with them for eight hours a day you will find that they are more evil than orange juice pulp (and if you know me I consider that pretty evil). Those ladies, at least at my Wal-mart, were the meanest, crabbiest women I had ever met in my life. What’s even worse is that they couldn’t even do their job. Listen if someone is that old and still need to make a living then that stinks and I’m glad that somebody is willing to hire them. But give them a job they can do. The person who greets people at the door has a very easy job. They take a buggy from the row of buggies, pull it out so that when the next person comes through the door there’s a buggy right there for them. But most of these women couldn’t even pull the buggies apart. At least 50 times a day the buggy pushers would be asked to come pull a buggy out for the little old lady. All of this while collecting 150 buggies at the speed of the Flash, hearing complaints from people with dents in their cars, and standing in the middle of the parking lot trying to stop a row of 100 buggies from going down the hill while cars refused to let us by. And if we weren’t there in a split second to pull the buggy out those little old ladies would go berserk. They’d yell and scream and they would say worse words than I heard in the break room. This one lady in particular didn’t even yell at anybody in particular. She would often yell for fifteen minutes for someone to help her with a cart before she realized there was nobody there. We were all out getting buggies in the parking lot. The customers that walked by probably thought she was loony but that’s ok because she was.
Cold hearted snakes
Every once in a while we’d all be asked in for a meeting and our manager would go over the latest numbers as well as the competition’s. I remember at one point in time the manager gleefully announced that we had put the local K-Mart out of business. This was a cause of celebration for them but I didn’t see the excitement. The manager proclaimed “K-Mart has officially shut down!” another worker joined in, “yes, we did it!” Another manager chimed in with “we’re number one”. Then I sarcastically said, “We put 150 people out of jobs, woohoo!” I thought I had said this quiet enough for just a few of my friends around me to hear but judging by the looks I got quite a few people heard me. I know business is a very cutthroat world. You want to have the best business and sometimes that means putting other people out of business. But I find it pretty cold to celebrate about putting a whole lot of people out of work, especially when, no offense to people who work at K-Mart, but they’re probably not rich to begin with. Maybe that’s just me though.
The mysterious firings
I no longer work at Wal-mart and unfortunately it wasn’t because I quit. One day I went in to work and was told that I hadn’t clocked out the previous day. I told them I was sorry and it would never happen again, they told me I was fired. They accused me of doing it on purpose and attempting to steal money from them. To be honest I’m not sure if I should be insulted that they think I’m a cheat or that they think I’m stupid. Do you really think I’d be stupid enough to stay clocked in for 24 hours straight and think that nobody would notice? Come on! So what was my first little tiny mistake turned into being fired. It didn’t stop there though. Like I said before another guy got fired for not showing up on a day that he wasn’t supposed to work. Another guy was at another Wal-mart and his friend purchased something at the drug store. My friend picked up her medicine to carry it for her; a security guard saw him take it and thought he was stealing it. They explained the misunderstanding but when our manager heard about it he was fired. He got fired for carrying his friends’ groceries! Pretty soon all of the members of I.C.S. except for the manager got fired for silly reasons all within two weeks of each other. Pretty strange huh? It was like they were looking for a reason to fire us. I’m sure it was just a coincidence that every single one of us got fired just a week before our second raise was coming.
One last little thing. I’m a very forgiving person; I hate to hold a grudge. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t still a little mad that Wal-mart had wooden boards with nails sticking out of them, one of which I stepped on.