So with this post I’m going to come clean. I don’t work for a fictional store called WeownyouMart; I work for a very real store called WalMart. A big surprise I know. I also know that by coming out from behind the thinly veiled disguise of WeownyouMart that I’m exposing myself to the Devourers of Joy that don’t like WalMart being made fun of. Oh well, good luck finding me. Writing about WalMart by name will allow me more freedom to make fun of them by name (with references to fully document my fun…making…of).
I assure you that I will continue to change most other names etc. to protect…mostly me.
So when I first started at WalMart as part of about 40 new remodel hires, we were told that if we showed up, kept our noses clean, and didn’t call in sick too much that we would most likely have a job at the end of the remodel. If this particular store didn’t have any positions, they said that they would try to find a spot for us in a store nearby.
We had a two day orientation. As part of this orientation we watched several videos. Stuff like company procedures, rules, safety, how to use the special box cutter that is specifically designed to not cut your fingers…or anything else. Except that I totally cut my finger with it. One of the videos had to do with how bad and evil unions are and how WeownyouMart doesn’t need a bad evil union ruining everything with its bad evilness. See WalMart has had some trouble with unions and tends to get really nervous when stores go union or look like they might go union. So, OK, WalMart is good, unions are bad evil monsters that will break into your house and feast on your kittens. Whatever.
Another video had to do with working “off the clock,” which means working before you clock in or after you have clocked out. You should never work off the clock. Working off the clock is bad. Never ever work off the clock. If your boss asks you to work off the clock your correct response is to slap him or her on the cheek (gently, so as to make your point but not enough to cause permanent physical or emotional damage) and say “No, I cannot work off the clock as it is against WalMart policy.”
In the video they give several scenarios: You are on your way out when your boss asks you to help a customer, but you’ve already clocked out. What do you do?
A customer asks for your help after you’ve already clocked out. What do you do?
A herd of rabid hyenas have overrun the store and one of them asks for your help, but you’ve already clocked out. What do you do?
Well the answers to these scenarios vary but in the end you don’t work off the clock.
Well, oddly enough WalMart has gotten in trouble because some associates (oh yeah, we’re associates not employees) had been asked or forced to work off the clock. So there was that video and then over the next two days we had to take several Computer Based Learning (CBL) modules and one of them had to do with working off the clock. Is it OK to work off the clock? No.
Is it wrong to work off the clock? Yes.
Is it right to not not work off the clock? No.
If a herd of rabid gerbils have overrun the store and one is proceeding to gnaw on the Adam’s apple of a customer is it OK to assist this customer? Not if I have clocked out.
I’m a little hazy on this. It’s OK to work off the clock, right?
Now, part of the WalMart culture is the WalMart Cheer. They do it at the morning meetings, and as the company website says, “Don’t be surprised if you hear our associates shouting this enthusiastically at your local Wal-Mart store.” I would also add, don’t be surprised if 99% of them are faking that enthusiasm. Written by our beloved leader Sam Walton, it goes like this:
Give me a W!
Give me an A!
Give me an L!
Give me a squiggly! Because the logo at the time had a ~ between the L and the M. At this point everybody is to do a dance that is part Twist and part Chicken Dance. Yes, it’s just as embarrassing as it sounds.
Give me an M!
Give me an A!
Give me an R!
Give me a T!
What’s that spell?
Whose Wal-Mart is it?
It’s my Wal-Mart!
Who’s number one?
The customer! Always!
Who’s number two?
The Devourers of Joy!
Who’s dead last?
OK, I made up those last two things. The WalMart cheer is one of those things that companies do to boost enthusiasm, morale, and pride among their employees. Here’s a thought, if you want to boost enthusiasm, morale, and pride among your employees, why not try treating them with respect and paying them a living wage? Just sayin’.
So having survived orientation they sent me over to the offsite warehouse. There were originally 12 guys at the warehouse when I first started. The original dirty dozen consisted of three WalMart associates from other stores and a bunch of us who had been hired on for the remodel. The group of new WalMart associates included a couple of truck drivers, an electrician, a welder, a construction worker, and a social worker.
This motley crew included a good old boy who peppered his conversations with pseudo swear words like “durn” and “dang.” Somebody made the comparison to Boomhauer and that was his name ever since. Boomhauer had lots of stories including being shot, spending two years in jail, and beating up five cops by himself.
One time in the lunch room, Boomhauer made the statement that – at the age of 23 – he had had sex with 139 women. We asked when he lost his virginity and he said age 14. Somebody did some quick math and figured out that – including the jail time (when one would assume he wasn’t sexually active…with women anyway) and including his one year marriage (during which he presumably was faithful) he had a good six years to enjoy the company of all these women. That means about 23 women (23.2 to be exact) a year, basically 1.9 a month.
Certainly it seems – if you’ll forgive the phrase – doable, it’s not quite as outrageous as Wilt Chamberlain’s claim of 20,000 women over 45½ years, which he helpfully calculated as 1.2 women per day. Since I am not a womanizer and have not racked up numbers near as prolific as either Wilt or Boomhauer claim, you tell me. But when he mentioned that more than a few of these ladies had been Hooters Girls, some of guys begin to voice some doubt. So he had the brilliant idea to call his wife to confirm that prior to their marriage he had consorted with Hooters Girls. She did provide confirmation that there had been some pictures of a Hooters Girl or two that she had seen, but then she understandably was curious as to why he was asking her. That night was not a pleasant one in the Boomhauer household.
The cheater that I wrote about a while back was also a part of the dirty dozen.
Then there’s Preacher, Preacher is one of those guys that makes most Christians (even Christian Buts) cringe to have in the workplace. He was young, naïve, sincere, devout, and had no damn sense. He would preach to his co-workers and then let little personal facts slip out (like the fact that he has been permanently banned from the local library due to being caught twice looking at porn), then he would get upset when the guys made fun of him.
I couldn’t help liking Preacher, and by the end of our time in the warehouse I was convinced that he must have suffered some abuse as a child and that he was an arrested development case. When the other guys would start giving him a hard time I usually tried to defend him, but I have to admit that I piled on occasionally. It was just too much fun.
One of the guys was short, 52 years old, and had a crew cut. I’m going to call him Tiny Elvis (I know Elvis didn’t have a crew cut. Shut up, it’s my blog.). He came to work with us from another store in town. Also coming from that store was a young kid named TJ.
TJ and Tiny Elvis were good friends, and one time TJ was asking Tiny Elvis why he didn’t come over on the weekend. Tiny Elvis said that he had a lot of s#!t to do including getting his hair cut. That didn’t seem a good enough reason to TJ and he kept giving Tiny Elvis a hard time. Finally I couldn’t help it, I said, “Give him a break, TJ. It’s not easy for Tiny to get his hair cut, he has to go all the way back to the 50s.”
One of the dirty dozen was a guy whom I will call Fork Lift Guy. Most of the time during the first couple of weeks Fork Lift Guy was on the fork lift (duh), and I didn’t get to know him very well. After a couple of weeks, the Devourers of Joy at the store decided – for reasons that only make sense in Devourers of Joyland – to send Fork Lift Guy to the store and exchange him with a guy whom I will call Thieving Rat Bastard. Well, about a month or so after they sent him to the warehouse, they discovered that Thieving Rat Bastard was a thieving rat bastard. How could they possibly have known? So the Devourers of Joy sent Fork Lift Guy back.
This time I got to know him pretty well. Turns out he was raised as a Mennonite, he has moved away from the stricter aspects of the faith, but is very much a believer and leads worship at his church. For a couple days we were working together on a very exciting project: Sorting peg hooks. I know! Actually it was pretty sweet because we got to sit in front of a fan all day. So we talked about, what else, religion and politics. We disagreed respectfully a lot. These are my favorite conversations.
So about a week before remodel was done we found out that Fork Lift Guy and his wife had lost their house. Foreclosure. They just couldn’t make the payments even on their combined incomes. This naturally bummed everybody out and we asked him if there was anything we could do. He said we could help him move, which we were all happy to do. Unfortunately his moving day came last week right as I was at death’s door with a cold. I totally blew it off. I heard that he still had a lot of help including most of the other guys. I haven’t seen him at the store this week but I hope he’s OK that I didn’t show up. It was one of my brain farts, but had I remembered I would’ve called him at least.
Our supervisor’s name was Julio, he’s an African American. I don’t mean a Cuban American. One time I asked him why he had a Latino name and he said his Mom just liked it. Anyway, Carlos called Fork Lift Guy, Preacher, and I into a corner to talk about the jobs we were going to do at the store. The three of us were all that was left of the dirty dozen’s new hires; Boomhauer and Bill had found jobs with a construction company, Cheater got a job at a bakery, couple other guys were let go for fighting. Yeah, we had some drama.
So about three weeks ago we were in the lunch room on one of our extended breaks (things got a little loosey goosey towards the end) and Carlos came in, called everybody in for a meeting, and then made an excuse to send Preacher out of the room. He knew that Preacher didn’t have the sense to hear what Julio was about to tell us without going back to the store and blabbing it to everybody there.
Julio told us that at the store they had a cake for all the remodel associates at the store. The Devourers of Joy told them that if nobody had talked to them about a position at the store, thank you but your services are no longer required.
About 20 people were let go that day. No offers to find other jobs at other stores, just “Eat your cake and get your ass outa here.” Probably wasn’t even chocolate cake. Julio told us that one of the co-managers was had gotten involved with one of the visiting associates, and the rumor was that the decision of who to keep and who to kick to the curb was based on who the woman that this co-manager was sleeping with liked.
I guess it was a good thing I was at the warehouse, because I don’t think I ever met this particular woman. She must be something though; she held such power inside her…well, never mind.
I do consider myself blessed, lucky, whatever you want to call it. As much as I have complained (and will continue to) about WalMart, they gave me a chance when it seemed like nobody else would (or could). For that I am grateful. Honest. But damn, tacky or anything?