Friday, October 29, 2004

Day 51

Good nights end in disaster. This is my new motto.

Everything was okay until about 11:45pm. Because my shift was 6 hours tonight, I wasn't going to get a break for lunch. Not a big deal, because I ate before I came to work. But there's this rule here that you can't work more than 6 hours without a break. At six hours, your register locks you out, and you aren't allowed to make transactions.

I've gotten these warning before, and left before the lock out happened. Tonight I figured was no different. I started getting warning, but since I clocked in three minutes late tonight (6:03), at 11:45, I thought I had a good 18 minutes. Wrong.

So after I sell this guy a phone card. It locks me out. And I'm on register 11, the tobacco register, the one register that is supposed to never close. Oops. So I holler to my CSM, who runs to get another cashier on the register to take my waiting customers, while I'm also talking to the guy who I just sold the phone card to, because he just tried to use it on his cell, and it won't work.

I take them to the CSM podium (leaving the tobacco register unmanned for 30 seconds, my first big mistake; nothing was taken, but something could have been taken, and that's the point). After the CSM gets someone on 11, he comes back, and I ask him if there's a way to confirm the card was activated. He said no, that it wouldn't have let me sell it if it hadn't properly activated when I scanned it. They went to get another one for an exchange, while my CSM was called away to mix paint for a customer. BTW, who the hell buys paint at 11:58 on a Friday night?

I should have left right then and clocked out, but didn't (my second big mistake of the night). I stayed with the customer, because I didn't want him to think I was passing his problem on to someone else, because that's what you're supposed to do at Wal-Mart, where the Customer is #1.

We go to another register, to do an exchange. But now, the phone card company won't receive our request to deactivate the old card, so the register won't let us refund his money. Now the fun really starts. We page the CSM; he's still mixing paint. We try again, no luck. We page the manager on duty, who shows up and does nothing -- just tells us to try it again. He doesn't even really talk to the customer. (In his defense, we were really short-handed tonight, and it looked like he'd been running around from department to department fixing problems since he got there.)

Miraculously, the card deactivated when we tried it again. But it wouldn't activate the new card he grabbed, so we tried it another couple of times, getting a response on the register that the host wouldn't respond (stupid card company). So we gave the man his money back, and wished him well.

I clocked out 10 minutes after midnight, for a total of 6 hours and 7 minutes. I asked my CSM on the way out if that would raise any red flags. He told me the store could receive a fine for it, and that I should bring it up tomorrow when I got to work. So it looks like I'm in trouble again, because we didn't have the manpower to take care of a customer the way we should have.

Did I mention how much this sucks sometimes? Because if I didn't, I should have. Because it does.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Day 49

I zoned like crazy tonight. They've turned me into a whore for cleaning. A weak from tomorrow is pay day, so let's clean some more!

Monday, October 25, 2004

Day 47

Tonight, I worked as the cashier in electronics. And it was good. The best part was, I actually was able to help people! I helped customers find AV cables and video games and phone splitters and printer cartridges and even wives! (Okay, that last one was a lie.)

But it felt good to help people find things, and have conversations hat wen tbeyone "How are you?" and "Have a nice day!" To have the space to talk to co-workers during down time. And to yell at kids who hogged the video game deoms on display. (Another lie, no yelling was done. But I could have yelled a a couple of kids, only I chose not exercise that power).

It was probably my favorite night ever at Wal-Mart. That might have been the most pathetic thing I've ever written.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Day 45

Short night tonight, but not short enough to stay free of trouble.

It seems that on Thursday night, I (nearly) broke the law. Two fine citizens came through my line, purchasing a variety of products. Two such products were cold medicines. Federal and sate laws prohibit me from selling too much of a certain substance in cold pills to one customer (because it can be used in the making of meth or something). So the register let me know that this customer couldn't purchase it. I told her, then set if off the side. her companion asked if he could purchase it, instead, and according to my training, this was okay. So I rand it up seperately for him afterwards, and poof! Everything seemed okay.

Only they weren't. The head CSM came to me and asked me about the incident today. I let her know that it was two seperate customers, and that they didn't use the same credit card to pay. She understood, but mentioned something about how the security cameras could confirm my story (if they could, why not watch the tape before you talked to me?). then she gave me a little advice: even though what I had done was perfectly legal, if it happened again, I should suggest the cutomer that he purchase the medicine at another registar. Because that wouldn't raise any red flags in the system. In other words, next time you almost break the law, be sneaky about it.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Day 44

I wore blue jeans to work. And boy that didn't go over well.

First, I have to admit, I know I'm not supposed to wear jeans when I cashier. But I wanted to see what would happen. It took about two hours for a CSM to say something, and me about two seconds to lie, saying that all my other pants were in the wash. Yes, I am a liar, and yes, expect to see me in hell.

Second, the funny thing is, I see at least one casheir a day with jeans on. And I wanted to know if these conversations relly happened. Apparently, they do. They're just done discreetly enough that no one notices. But what I don't understand is, how come people keep wearing blue jeans to work?

My guess is that only certain CSMs have the confidence to confront a cashier about their dress. And if one of those more assertive CSMs is not one, dont expect to be told off.

What a place to work.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Day 43

So I got my second pink slip today. On Tuesday it seems, I came up $19.72 short at the end of the night. So this whole night I felt stupid and horrible and ready to die.

How does this happen? I have the feeling that I'm off by a few cents every day, so that would explain the $0.72 short. But what about the $19? It's like I handed someone a $20 when I should have given them a $1. I just don't know.

I also don't know how the cash office works. How much under (or over) does it take to get a pink slip? $1? $5? $10? And how often do other cashiers get these slips? Are two in about five weeks time more than the average?

Can you tell how well they've trained me?

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Day 41

Things get left all over Wal-Mart, in places they don't belong. Instead of a general policy of If you see something out of place, put it back for Wal-Mart Associates, we just pile everything behind the Customer Service desk in shopping carts (moderately sorted), which get sent back to their respective departments at night. Sometimes, cashiers have the pleasure of taking certain carts back, and returning the items to their proper resting places. Out of everyone who works at Wal-Mart, cashiers are expected to really know where everything in the store goes (that's why we get paid the big bucks), so this process helps.

If things are slow up front, and most of the returns are done, CSMs will sometimes us around the high-traffic aisles to clean things up or "zone." A few night ago, I zoned the clearance aisle, which has absolutely no rhyme or reason. Tonight, I helped zone the Halloween aisles, which while more logically ordered, were still just as messy. Customers have no respect for property that isn't theirs. It was a near disaster. And this happens every night. I'm turning into one of those teachers who thinks their job would be ideal if there were no students -- except replace students with customers.

If this job doesn't kill me, one of the customers will, in self-defense, as I snap, leaping over some counter to throttle them. It will all happen so fast, and no will understand how it could happen to someone like me. He was such a nice guy. How tragic.

Until then, I'll keep zoning. Which, even though it isn't exactly "fun city," is so less stressful than register. And I will never turn down the chance to do something else besides standing behind that counter, bagging people's groceries, while they watch my every move like birds of prey, waiting for me to mess up in the slightest of ways.

I hate money.

Today's Sales: $3,000

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Day 39

Oh Sunday, my Sunday.

Woke up a little worse for wear, but not throwing up, which was awesome sign number one for the day. 8:30 is early to man a register, but not too early for spying!

The first two hours just kind of dragged. But once you can get past 11:00, all hell breaks loose. Customer after customer, with nothing on their mind but themselves. Ego-centricism, meet Capitalism. You two should have beautiful children.

We must have been short-handed today, because my CSM was manning one of the registers during the rush. Unfortunately for me, that meant that when my lunch break rolled around at noon, there was no one to tell me to go. I figured I could stay on for as long as she was on. But eventually, another CSM showed up, and I casually asked her if I could take a break. I left for lunch at 1:45.

Today, for the first time, I noticed that there are sky-lights in Wal-Mart. Before the rush, I found myself staring around a lot, and noticed the ceiling. It's hard to tell for some reason, because of the way the light filters through, but there is real light in the store. Sometimes. The glass or plastic is so thick that you can't see anything through it, and the fluorescent lights are on throughout the day, drowning out the sunlight, but it's there. Just in a sick, unstylish kind of way.

After lunch was a breeze, because I had less than two hours before I got off. The only news is that I think one of the CSMs my age was kind of flirting with me. It was weird, and I laughed at loud, kind of nervous like, so it weirded her out, too. But even's even. And at the end of the day, I've just managed to make one more girl feel uncomfortable around me.

Mission accomplished.

Today's Sales: $7,000

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Day 38

I threw up last night. Five times. So I'm not going to work.

It was interesting to call in sick, though. At my last job, which was in the non-profit sector, I felt what I was doing was worth it every single day I went in. So I never called in sick. Once. I haven't had a sick day from a job in over two years.

Until today. So I called, and talked to this manager I'm sure I've never met. And he gave me the whole "cold as steel" guilt voice, where's he doesn't ask you a single question, just grunts and ends the conversation with, "We'll let you know."

We'll let you know? What the hell does that mean? Who cares. I'm going back to bed.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Day 37

Danielle's nephew turned out to be alright. But while talking with her during the slow down at night, I got sent somewhere else, in order to earn my keep. Oh management, how do I love thee?

They had me zone the bargain aisle tonight, and what a mess. It was funny, because the night before I had visited Target after dinner, and noticed just how clean and spacey everything was, only to clean this unmitigated disaster of an aisle where everything was piled atop of everything else.

Now the problem isn't was that the aisle was just an eyesore; it's that we haven't cordoned off enough space for markdowns. This whole problem could be averted if we expanded the aisle to the opposite side -- management would save precious man-hours spent re-organizing every single night if they would just give the area a little more space, so that people wouldn't have to dig to the back of the markdowns in order to find other more covetous markdowns. This is simple ergonomics people. Get on the bus!

Today's Sales: $2,000

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Days 33-35

Three nights in a row. All ending at 11:00, but each starting 15 minutes later than the last one. But night three, I worked only four hours. Daily sales weren't even worth mentioning.

One night, however, I got to talk too Danielle, another cashier my age, between customers, which don't really exist after 10:00pm. She was a little upset, becuase her 5-year-old nephew had gotten hit in the head with a baseball bat by the nieghbor kid. And it was the second time it happened. The first time, when her sister told the dad of the neighbor kid what happened, he replied, "Well, that'll teach him not to get in the way of of a bat."

And this man can vote in an election.

Anyway, her nephew had been taken to the hospital, but not just any hospital, the children's hospital, because of the seriousness what could be a major injury. Danielle didn't know anything about how he was of what was going on, and it was all kind of scary.

It's funny that it takes this for me to finally have a real conversation with someone around here. Don't get me wrong, half the people here are genuinely nice friendly, but no one ever talks about real life. I overheard a conversation yesterday between to co-workes who were bitching about how they wanted a Friends reunion or something. And they were passionate about it.

I hope Danielle's nephew is okay. And that he grows up to work somewhere where people talk about real things, and not about how they'd give anything to see how Chandler and Monica's baby turns out. I hope he never even sees a sitcom in his entire life. And that he personally writes legislation that bans the lugh track from network TV.

This kid has some future.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Day 32

Spent a good part of the day finishing my CBLs. Will say more when I can remember what happened.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Day 30

More CBls. Will comment later.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Day 29 - Payday


That was my first paycheck. Remember, I work part-time, which means I can't go over 34 hours a week. Looking ahead at my schedule, I don't even break 30 hours during either of the next two weeks. I'm not sure how much I like that.

I item of note that I had forgotten about. I get paid $1 extra for every hour I work on Sundays. So bully for me that I'm part of the heathen masses. That extra $12.21 sure weighs down my pockets.

I am sooo rich.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Day 27

Nothing of great importance happened tonight. It was slow, and I took some time to finish more CBLs. This time, "Expanding Your Skills I & II," then Loss Prevention (which, in a rare bit of entertainment, touched upon what to do if taken hostage -- the solution, of course, being to faint!).

So all I've really got is a story.

A woman with her two young children spilled kitty litter all over my station. Most everything goes in bags, except large items and those medium-sized ones with handles (like milk or juice jugs, liquid laundry detergent and some types of pet supplies). The kitty litter was too big for a bag, so I set it on top of my "lazy jane" like I set most other large items (I call that spinning, trundle-type thing that holds the bags and has a triangle area for larger items an top a "lazy jane" for no other reason than that no one knows just what it's called, and spinning trundle-type thing, etc. is just too long to say every time I talk about it).

So anyway, when the customer grabbed it to put in her cart, she grabbed by the cap on top and not by the handle. The cap, apparently, was not secured tightly, and she pulled it off in the process, spilling lemon-fresh kitty litter all around my lazy jane. At first, in order to explain her accident, she blamed it on the rather vague "they," as in: "They didn't screw the cap on tight enough." Okay, so far this isn't much of a story. In fact, it doesn't ever become much of a story. I'm telling it more to make an observation. But we're not there yet.

So I called over for a manager to help me clean it up. As I was scooping the kitty litter into bags while my manager swept it from the floor, the customer again shifted blame to someone other than herself. But this time, instead of blaming it on "they," she blame-shifted to me, saying, "He undid the cap so that it came off when I lifted it." What!?! With my manager standing right there, the customer's telling him that I inexplicably unscrewed the cap, for unknown reasons, in order to make this huge mess at my check-out stand. I discreetly said nothing, implicitly accepting the blame in order to not cause even more of an incident. Which (finally) brings me to my point.

I've seen more hurried, stressed out mothers in the last two weeks than I've seen in my entire life.

It's in no part encouraging; in fact, it's down right depressing. I know parenting, when I finally get around to it, is going to be tough. But I've seen some bad mojo working on moms here at Wal-Mart. Will I snap at my kids like that every time I'm in a check-out line? Will I have to resort to swift smacks to the behind just to get them to calm down for long enough to get back to the car? I know it'll be a bit different because I'll be a father, but still, it's a bit horrifying to watch good parents go bad in a moments of stress-induced weakness.

But there are the calm parents -- like the one who looked tired beyond belief, her kids sitting it the cart singing excerpts from the Wizard of Oz, who humored her kids even though they were being a bit bratty (but in a cute way, because of her gentle response). There are times like that when I realize that things won't necessarily be as bad as they could be. It just takes heaps of patience, and kids who sing, rather than kids who are crankily crying or throwing fits because their mom won't buy them the Kit-Kat next just inches away from their cart. Which makes me think, as a company, we're not doing much to help buy stacking chocolate-covered sugar right next to the registers.

Just another thing to file into the "Needs to be Changed When You're Able to Blackmail the CEO" bin in the back of my mind.

And on a final note. I've been asked in the comments section how much I make, which I'm surprised that it took me this long to finally think of posting. For the record, I make $6.70 an hour. I'm part time, because of school, so I can't work any more than 34 hours a week (but I'm not even guaranteed that many hours every week). I get my first paycheck on Thursday, and I fully intend to let ya'll know what I get.

I bet you can hardly wait.

Today's Sales: $4,000

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Day 25

Sunday is such an interesting day. You get to see this wonderful mix of gussied up church-going folk, and their evil, atheist counterparts, spending their second Saturday in sweat pants and ratty, Packers t-shirts.

So they had me run the express lane today, which was a complete and utter disaster. First, I charged one customer too much for her cucumber and artichokes. Then, when a customer brought a mattress to the register, I went around to scan it with the gun. Sometimes those little UPC bars can be tricky little bastards, and you have to scan them multiple times before beep at the register. Only thing is, the register on the express lane beeps a little different, and I couldn't hear it on the other side. So I ran up the thing 18 times. My manager had to come around and correct it (after she had already corrected the overweighing of the vegetables incident).

That was the worse of the day, but I also gave her 25 dollars for a roll of quarters (thinking I had grabbed two fives from my drawer, proving that my till was out of order, a Wal-Mart no-no). And I ran out of receipt paper, which wasn't a real big deal, but I'm supposed to catch it before it happens (so as not to keep the cuctomer waiting). And then I put it in the wrong way, because they didn't bother to show me how. So another manager had to come over and fix it, because it was just spitting out blank paper.

All in all, it pretty much sucked.

Today's Sales: $15,000

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Day 24

This place has no windows. It's been in the back of my head this whole time, stratching my skull like a bad itch, but I haven't been able to lay a finger on it until today. This place has no natural lighting. There are two main entrance ways, both with glass doors. But away from those, one has absolutely no idea what is going on in the outside world. It was raining last night, and I had absolutely no idea from the register. For 8 hours, you can't enjoy the sunshine or the rain or the cloudcover or anything. This should make people angry shouldn't it? Not seeing the light of day?

Shouldn't it?

Today's Sales: $13,000

Friday, October 01, 2004

Day 23

A conversation, heard tonight.

Customer 1: I would shop more often at Wal-Mart, but we just don't have one near Brook Meadows.

Customer 2: That's why it's ben so great since this one came in. I don't have to drive all the way to Cedar Springs.

Customer 1: You know, Joe doesn't like it when I shop at Wal-Mart, because they don't unionize their workers. But I still shop at one whenever I can.

Customer 2: I know, it's just too hard to pass up.

Sam Walton was very much opposed to unions, as we've already discussed. But I think it's sad that people who are pro-union turn a blind eye when the shop at anti-union establishments. it's on ething if you don't care for unions, and want to support Wal-mart because they don't either. But it's another thing when you support unions, but lend your business to places that oppose what you believe.

Americans, either implicitly or explicitely, support Wal-Mart, and everything Wal-Mart is, by shopping there. If you've chosen not to shop at Wal-Mart or Sam's Club, I can honor that, even if I don't completey agree with you. But if you support Wal-Mart by shopping there, whether it's because you can buy grocieries and socks at the same place, or because it's open at 1:30am on a Saturday morning, it's hypocritical to pretend that you have something against Wal-Mart.

Let me repeat that just to make it clear: If you shop at Wal-Mart, you have no basis for criticizing said institution.

Unless, of course, you work there. Which makes you not only part of the problem, but also part of the solution.

If I can stand it that long.

Today's Sales: I honestly can't remember.