Friday, March 08, 2013

Behind the Counter: Opening Day

The first day was a nightmare.

Even as I think those words, before I put my fingers to the keys to type them, even now, as I see the letters form words and then a sentence on the screen, I get a chill thinking about the horror of what it meant to be chained to a register for eight hours on opening day of a Wal-Mart SuperCenter.

I knew it had to end.

I was revolted by the need that drove thousands of people to spend money on poor-quality goods. During that process, they humiliated the under-paid and under-trained staff struggling to help them. Nothing we had been told even began to prepare us for this.

[something needs to go here]

Of the many, many examples from that day, one stands out so clearly in my mind. It was 12:30 p.m. on Opening Day and it seemed like half the county was trying to cram into the store because even though there were already two Wal-Marts and a Sam's Club in town, a SuperCenter might have something new! Oh, and they were so sad when they learned that SuperCenters had less "stuff" - meaning the merchandise - because half the store was given over to grocery. Instead of a "super" grocery store and a "super" Wal-Mart, a SuperCenter was in reality a discount grocery store and a limited-selection Wal-Mart with bad service.

This wasn't an event, it was a slaughter.

I was running register four, one of the "little" registers, without a belt and only three bagging spots, out by the grocery door. Every single person in line was angry at being in line, because they thought Wal-Mart was supposed to be all about fast service. They should have known that our "training" amounted to four hours of pretending to scan groceries at super-slow speeds and never using real money. We never learned one-tenth of the things we needed to learn. Instead of sending us to other stores to train and learn, our store management thought it more important for us to stock shelves, carry boxes and unload buggies.

I had been blindly running items across the scanner and throwing them into those stupid Wal-Mart sacks since 8 a.m. I hated those Wal-Mart sacks. Every cashier did. Slick as a greased-up used-car salesman running a political campaign, they either stuck together so that you couldn't get them apart to stick the stuff into, or they came off in clumps. I was nearly in tears, every third person that came through was complaining about the price of tomatoes and nobody taught us how to price override produce and I swear I was never so close to quitting anything in my life.

"Your fast lanes are not fast!"

Just beyond my bagging carousel, an elderly man in gray slacks, a pink pullover and a brown striped cardigan was screaming at the top of his lungs at one of the only genuinely nice people in the store, assistant manager Cardenas. Poor Cardenas. The two women at my register stopped in the middle of their credit card transaction to listen. As the shouting got louder, the audience grew, even over a din that would have felled the walls of Jerico.

"Your fast lanes are not fast!"

"Why are your cashiers so slow?"

"Why is this a brand new store and the service so bad?"

"Why should I ever come back here?"

"I need you to tell me why I should ever come here to spend money if I have to wait 30 minutes to check out and you have every lane running. This is unacceptable. It is unacceptable. Do you hear me? Do you understand? IT IS UNACCEPTABLE!!!"

And then he decides to jump onto me. And so help me Kali, Cthulhu and Amenhotep, because I do not even remember checking him out.

He points at me and goes "You. Yes you. The fat one. You charged me twice for this. I said something and you ignored me. I gave up. Do you understand me? I gave up because I just wanted to get the hell out of here and never come back. I saw this man and I'm going to tell him that I hope you get fired. You're slow and you don't know what you're doing."

Cardenas just stood there.

I just stood there. I wanted to scream and yell and hit him, but I knew that the world didn't work that way. We aren't savages - at least, I'm not.

I did want to cry.

Except that I'm supposed to be better than all this squalor, the college-educated, Mensa-member peacock amidst these scratching hens; we won't mention the squalid, all-too-common pigeons that comprised the customer base. To admit defeat is to admit that they're better.

I stuck it out.

I went to lunch.

I sat in the corner and ate my turkey sandwich, drank my soda and wished I'd packed four times as much food.

I commiserated. "Who has time to worry about packing the bags goods? I just shove it in and pray."

I went to the corner, put my head down and tried to sit very quietly. I hated the too-bright fluorescents, the processed air filled with the scent all the harsh cleaning chemicals and the screams and yells of the jam-packed store just a few feet away. The roar vibrated right through the wall. In the years I worked there, that noise was one of the few that ever penetrated the Break Room. Sound-proofing - especially in the customer-facing direction of the store was particularly good. You could even make a reasonable case for missing faint pages in there - an excuse some managers used with surprising regularity.

Today though, I was just overwhelmed.

I had traveled abroad, wandering streets in Mexico at midnight before I knew better than to do such things. I had a "real" job in an office; I didn't have to work standing up. Hell. I'd been to college. I'd been to college for free. I graduated summa cum laude.

Today. Today I could not cope.

Fifteen thousand people in search of low prices, speedy checkouts and friendly service with a smile were like nothing I had ever seen before.

In Mexico, I opened the door of a cab in a centro at midnight after six too many tequila shots and the cab driver looked like Sloth from "The Goonies." I looked at him, he looked at me. I said "Excusez-moi,"  which, I admit, I have no idea what I was doing. I was quite obviously a drunk American college student. But no way in hell was I getting in that cab. But not even what I saw in a cab that day was near to rivaling the hungry horde that descended on us.

After I came back from lunch, I got the death sentence. I hated being sent to run one of the "big" registers, the sixteen registers with the rotating belts that were designed for great, big, mother-whopping buggy-loads full of cheap, plastic Chinese crap and low-quality, D-grade, processed, imitation food products. In theory, cashiers should be able to scan and bag faster than customers can load the belt. Excuse me while I go laugh my head off.

I got sent to eight, right in the dark heart of hell. Eight also had a funky scale and no phone. Two hours, a line that wouldn't quit and no way to signal for help except blinking my light.

Register Eight was really not so great.

By two or three in the afternoon, word started making its way through the cashier network: "Watch out for the chickens!" I didn't understand what that meant, but figured that I'd know it when I saw it.

I saw it.

Wal-Mart sells cooked whole chickens that you purchase in the deli. Most grocery stories have something similar. You can get them fried, roasted, broiled, etc. These were roasted; they smelled delicious. They were also extremely greasy, as it turns out.

I learned the greasy part when a woman stacked two of those chickens atop a load of cans at the end of my belt. When I pressed the button to move the belt forward, both those chickens lurched off the stack and right onto the floor where they exploded like twin grease bombs. I hadn't been paying attention and didn't see her trying to get everything out of the buggy to try to compensate for my inability to scan and bag at the same time.

 I could see them falling. I remember thinking that I was going to get into trouble for this somehow. Her back was turned to pile some more stuff onto the belt. I pressed the button. Skriiitch.

The chickens come packaged in these plastic trays. A clear plastic dome fits into a black plastic bottom. I've been in enough grocery stores to know that Wal-Mart selected the cheapest possible design - the one that used the most minimal amount of plastic possible. The heavy, steroid-plump, factory-farm chickens sloshed around in a stew of fat and juices. The ill-trained girls taking these out of the broiler and throwing them over the counter in the deli didn't understand you need to  drain the bird and let it cool at least a little. Also, the cheap trays had nothing but four plastic snaps to secure the lid, which really didn't fit in the first place.

From day one, every cashier treated those birds with the utmost of respect. To make folly of the fowl was to invite a burned hand, a splash of hot fat, a filthy register or an unholy grease bomb, the likes of which I was now getting an up close and personal view. The birds slipped down the stack of cans sideways. One carton opened up in mid-air, spraying the register, the front of the woman's buggy and the tile with hot fat and chicken grease. The other one held together a few seconds longer; in a nice bit of karma, it splatted right at her feet. Pity that I didn't get to see the chickens bounce across the tile.

She screamed. I screamed.

I flicked my light on and yelled. I mean, there was chicken on the floor and that just could not be allowed to happen!

Near 4 p.m., when I got my second break, I looked at the roof and realized that the sky had changed. It was evening, or at least not high noon, which was the last time I looked skyward. I sat on a chair at a cheap plastic table and drank a soda. I had nothing left to give. I could not imagine doing this 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week for years on end. People make a living like this?

I willed strength back into my body. I pushed open  the swinging doors and walked to the front to learn the assignment for my last hour.

Register four. At least it was a speedy.

A woman yelled at me about tomatoes vs. tomatillos.

Another brought a bulging buggy through. Managers ordered us to "just check people out" because everybody was waiting in line. Customers started screaming at her, then screaming at me for checking her at. The whole time, I'm swiping her load of cat food, shampoo, towels and bananas as fast as I can and throwing it into bags. She's just loading and unloading. Another old white man in a blue blazer is giving her hell right on top of her buggy and she doesn't bat an eye. He's cussing up a storm until she hip-checks the cart back into him. I thought there was going to be a brawl. All this, on day one.

I get to leave.

As I walk out, the lines are only getting longer as the after-work traffic comes in. The store looks like a temperance league armed with bombs and rockets hit a saloon. Leaving the employee doors, I notice a woman loading diapers into her cart. Under the rear wheels, she's grinding a tiny little pink onesie that she knocked off a hangar. As she rolls off, she sees the onesie and kicks it under the shelf.

I ought to go pick it up. I don't. I'm off the clock and I realize that I was paid just a few dimes above minimum wage today.

I walked out.

I should have ran.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

behind the counter chapter five "Connie"

We arrived for orientation and waited in the entryway of a brand spanking new Wal-Mart.

Scaffolding was everywhere. There was a McDonalds! I was so impressed that MY WAL-MART WAS GOING TO HAVE A MCDONALD'S!

I have no idea why I thought that was important, except that I was fat and lazy and damn what did they put in those fries?

I know, in every logical sense of the word, that what I get out the drive through window is in no way related to a potato. I have held potatoes in my hand. My granny made me French fries with potatoes that came out of the ground hours ago. Those aren't potatoes. Those are pieces of hot, fried sensory satisfaction. You pray for the crunchy salty slightly smushy fries at that PERFECT temperature where you can jam a whole fistful in your mouth and chomp away with glee.

It happens sometimes. The fries are designed to be that good, but a lot of things have to line up for you to hit the exact window. When it does, don't you think about pulling over in the next parking lot and jamming the entire box in your mouth as fast as you can? Fries.

So, yeah. I was happy to see McDonalds.

A plump mocha skinned girl sat at a table near the wide door. She continually held one phone to her ear and fielded questions with the other.

Wait. We waited.

At eight, we were herded in to view Wal-Mart cheer. I should have ran.


There were exactly three white males in a group of fifty. Mostly women, white and minority. A sprinkling of seniors. Very heavy on Hispanics of every stripe and Haitians; the hiring manager, who would teach the class was Cuban.

But then I spotted her, across the room.

Connie was a curious creature. She was the closest thing to a true, honest, bright, intelligent friend I had in my time inside the House of Wal.

Her bulb seemed to flicker on and off, but with a distinctive and wildly unpredictable irregularity that baffled me. No doubt it baffled the rest of Pew 22 down at St. Pious of the Holy Waters of God. One minute she's keeping up in a conversation about internet memes; the next, she starts yammering on about Jesus and literally giving me bible verses.

Is this a white trash viper or an aspirational garter snake?

Neither, it turned out. When the universe wired Connie, somewhere in the billions of nerves that make up the human body, a single neuron zigged when it should have zagged. Much to my chagrin, poor Connie was what I'd call a dingbat, pure and simple. Worse, I think she knew she was a few beers short of a party and spent her entire life trying to get ahead anyway.

 I could see the potential spark of greatness, even brilliance on the girl. Looking into her eyes, at the back of the pupil, in a space that only others with "the gift" recognize, I could also see a pain that staggered me.

Such a tragedy, to know that you are doomed to a life of of pot roast and dirty green minivans with a rusting and dented fender because of a quirk in the genetic code. Did mama eat tuna fish that day? Or was it the two glasses of dreadful champagne she had at Aunt Lucille's third wedding?

She was too smart for the rest of the girls in the starter home exurbs and trailer parks, although the lower the social class, the more accepting. All the girls in Brynwood Acres Mobile Home Resort loved Connie. She was funny, at least, funnier than them. And Connie could cook.

They let her join them in bachelorette parties and girls nights.  She usually had one daiquiri and then played responsible adult.

What Connie really thought was to put on a dress cut down to here, up to here, as sparkling as diamonds and strap on shoes that hurt to stand up in. She'd toss on an outrageous coat and dash out of her fabulous apartment to meet a random assortment of people for drinks.

She loved "Sex and the City." In her circle of bored housewives who watched "stories" on daytime tv, played lotto and thought frying a hamburger was cooking, she was surely the Miranda, a little brainy, with some Charlotte prissiness tossed in. At least, that's what everybody thought.

Connie loved men, at least when her wiring was firing. When it wasn't, she was married to something that looked relatively harmless, but was large and grunted a lot. Poor thing. Imagine waking up next to an old Gray sweatshirt stuffed with a bald mannequin every day for the next 40 years. And you didn't really remember the night you conceived the child that led to the marriage you were more or less forced into.

She thought I was the most amazing thing she had ever seen,heard or touched. A friendship was born instantly.

We tried. We really tried.

Connie and I were thick as thieves during the afternoon of orientation. We traded phone numbers in the parking lot and agreed to meet for lunch on the first Monday we were supposed to be back at work.

Three days later, we parked across from each other at an unholy hour of the morning in a parking lot I would come to bitterly resent over the next three years, Connie hopped into my car, we hugged and jabbered like old friends.

We clocked in at 8 a.m.

I saw Connie for two minutes during our first break. We ate lunch together. We walked out together at 5:15 p.m.; we moaned about our aching feet.

Lunchtime became our refuge to share news, store gossip and more. I was working everywhere. Connie was weighing taking a promotion into a full time job in the deli. She had also applied for an executive assistant job at either a law office or financial firm.

Her husband usually called during our lunch hour to "check in." Some of the hissing and back and forth was comical. "Why are you calling me? No we don't get to come home early today. Get off the phone. What if it's the lawyers?"

It never occurred to her that a white collar firm calling to make contact with a candidate would not simply hang up if there was no answer. That's why voice mail exists.

But we did have fun.

During lunch, associates are considered "off the clock," therefore, we could leave the property. One day, Connie and I visited my new apartment. It was our secret adventure, something we could share that no one else in the store could. We were special. We were the glittering martini girl queens, the ones who shopped for real estate on their lunch hour. They didn't eat at the greasy (and incompetent) McDonald's; we picked up real food at Wendy's!

We even shared a tiny split of champagne out of plastic Starbucks cups. We finished the champagne standing in my empty kitchen, then ate because we were paranoid about being "drunk" at work.

So much fun packed into that golden hour.

After four weeks, Connie abandoned hope on the secretarial job and caved, taking the position in Deli. Two days before the store opened, she started managerial training. This was just a recipe for disaster.

In theory, Connie was hired to work three shifts a week (24 hours) as a customer service clerk in the deli and meat department. When she applied, her interview stressed years of experience in a small family deli/grocery store. Connie imagined she would be slicing meat or cheese, perhaps; or stocking shelves.

For six weeks, Connie (and the rest of the 400 associates in the store), did nothing but brute manual labour. Despite multiple other Wal-Mart's in the area, Connie received almost no training in running the deli equipment, the ovens, the dryers or the freezer controls. No one was allowed to turn on anything used to cook food until four days before opening. Wal-Mart didn't want to waste food on non customers.

Three different assistant managers yelled at her about cardboard on the floor. The assistant produce manager went ballistic because a pallet of ice cream accidentally melted on the floor. A Cuban woman accused Connie of getting her wet and then stealing her purse.

The "promotion" turned out to be a poisoned Apple. Connie was the dead pig, lying on Wal-Mart's fatter table, with that rosy Deli apple in her mouth and dead eyes staring right out from the mounds of fresh fried processed chicken strips and potato wedges into the produce bins.

Connie accepted the position so late that she missed 28 of the 30 days of training. She had started her Wal-Mart career less than two months ago. Now, she was responsible for ordering, customer service and scheduling at a SuperCenter deli. She was also expected to manage two dozen employees, mos who spoke almost no English, AND work 40 punishing hours per week slicing ham for old ladies.

Connie didn't know anything about Wal-Mart technology, industrial food service, managing people and she barely spoke English. She was a nice girl who knew how to slice meat and clean.

Connie lasted six weeks.

I saw her twice more before she passed out of my life forever.

The last time I saw her at work, she looked miserable. Connie was running the meat slicer with a tired motion that spoke to too many hours under florescent lights, too many unpleasant customers and 50-hour weeks on her feet.

It was just 11:30 am. I'd been sent to lunch early. The store was slow. I thought Connie might be able to get away an  We could catch up.

No dice. She was the only person working in Deli today. Two firings, a transfer and a all-out left her under-staffed. With the euphoria of opening over, a round of exits started and hiring didn't keep up.

Connie's tired face begged me for a soda and a candy bar. I bought them for her before I bought my own lunch.

I saw Connie one final time just before Christmas. She brought her husband and son in to shop. She was pregnant again, despite never finding another job. There was talk of moving to North Carolina. Maybe Georgia. The husband had better job prospects.

Connie filled her cart with groceries and canned goods from Wal-Mart, identical copies of the same bags, boxes and packages she had spent weeks putting on shelves months before. It didn't bother her that she was spending $200 on low-quality meat and produce at a retailer that failed to train her for a job she ultimately failed at - and her child will likely be born without health insurance.

She came up to the customer service counter to say goodbye and wish me a merry Christmas. Connie had already cracked open a pack of Snackwell chocolate cookies which she blamed on her pregnancy.

She promised to email. I scribbled my info on a piece of register tape.

I never saw Connie again.

Connie was a curious creature. A curious creature indeed.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Behind the Counter: chapter six : Frollicking with FiFi

If I saw one person try to bring a dog into Wal-Mart, I must have seen a thousand in the six years I worked there.

I also laid eyes on customers trying to walk in with hamsters, ferrets, a three-foot lizard, a pair of matched macaw, a smattering of felines, three parakeets and a grand total of five actual service dogs. Four were leading vision impaired customers, the fifth was trained to detect some sort of condition in a young girl. .

Nothing really exotic (no livestock) ever came through though, unless you count the customers. That zoo never ended.

One leggy, spray-tan, crystal belly ring type smuggled a dog past the door greeter under her Pinky-pink Juicy Couture velour track suit.

She pops the dog out as soon as she's past a register, so of course someone asks her to please take the animal outside.

She doesn't argue. She just keeps walking. Away.

The visibly perturbed supervisor, a short, squat man named Nick who has always loved ordering the rest of us around, chases her and orders the dog out of the store.

The girl cries fake tears, pleads, whines and then raises her voice a little.


As she leaves, she gets about 10 feet away starts talking to the dog loud enough for us to hear.

Her opening sentence? "I bet if I was Paris Hilton they wouldn't throw me out of here!"

About ten feet from the door and half the store from Nick, she yells out: "F**** you, a######," flips off the door greeter, kicks the trash can and leaves.

What a delightful morning.

Afternoons could be even better. Too hot for the snowbirds to be outside, early bird specials don't start till four. What to do? Shop at the Wal-Mart!

The persnickety type.

The type that shop at Wal-Mart.

The incredibly stupid type.

The type that try to bring in a cute little Yorkie so sweet sweet FiFi there can lay in all the beds and see which one fits her best, yes princess can!

The door greeter stopped Mr. Smith as he walked in, put FiFi in a buggy and tried to enter the store. Mr smith took FiFi to his car, zipped her into a breathable mesh and durable leather puppy traveling case and tried the opposite door. SuperCenters have multiple entrances; ours had five but much larger stores existed.

I'd have put more than even money on him getting the dog through, but he ran into a bit of bad luck when the dog yapped right by the greeter.

He demanded a "manager."

Somehow, I got sent over. The stance on dogs is clear: no. He finally got that.

So, to punish me for ruining such a lovely Thursday afternoon of shopping for Mr smith and FiFi, he decided to get even.

Mr. Smith: "I want a dog bed."
Me: "ok sir. But you cannot take the animal into the store with you."

Mr. Smith: "I can't leave her in the car!"
Me: "can you take her home and come back?"

Mr. Smith: "that's six miles each way in traffic! That's about 20 minutes and we are already right here. Wait. Can you watch her? Or how about that black girl right there? She just stands here by the door anyway. I'll be right back!"
Me: "sir. We cannot be responsible for your animal. "

Mr. Smith: "well I have to buy a bed. "
Me: "I don't know what to tell you sir. Maybe go to a pet store?"

Mr. Smith: "pet stores are expensive. Why do you think I'm here? The service?"
Me: "I don't know sir. "

But this does prove a break to the impasse. I offer to bring him samples of dog beds, although I refuse to allow the dog to sit in them.

Me: "Sir. Would you want FiFi wallowing around after 30 other dogs?"

But the comity enjoined at reaching a bipartisan customer-wage slave agreement quickly broke down.

Emboldened by the advance of his dog bed agenda, mr smith assumed a commanding tone.

Mr. Smith: "Now you take a good look."
Me: "oooooooo-Kay???"

Mr. Smith: "you get a REAL good look"

I'm clueless. Like a ballet student dumped on the ten-yard line at Homecoming with an ox of a lineman bearing down on one side and crushing self doubt on the other.

I have no idea what this man is telling me to "Get a look" at. I say so.

Mr. Smith: "I want you to pick out a bed that is exactly right for FiFi." This comes out at something between a shriek and a yell.
Me: "ok sir. I got it. She's a small dog. I'll bring those out first."

Five trips later, he's looked at every small and medium pet bed we have, even ordering me to bring out the medium and large cat beds "just in case."

He wants to know if we have blankets. I refuse.

He asks for different colors of two beds, which I fetch. And then a slight fault in the stitching means I'm sent back to Pets, which is left past 24 registers, 5 aisles of Pharmacy, the Pharmacy window, 8 aisles of HBA (health & beauty, ie personal care) and then! Pets yet again.

I got exercise that day.

I had a smile pasted on, although I was steady projecting "DIE BASTARD DIE" via the death ray in my mind.

I finally produced something he was willing to buy.

Of course he wanted to write a check.

He returned that dog bed less than two hours later, saying the dog would never lay down in it and it "looked much more uncomfortable in better light."

I said nothing about all the dog hair in the bed, on the bed and on the sides. The telltale dusting of FiFi's white hair stood out like Mormons in a brewery.

Return. Defective. Next.

The dog had no issue with the bed. But after we wouldn't let him in with his precious FiFi, damned if he was going to give us money. Running me like a raw recruit was just a bonus.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Behind the Counter Chapter Four: Store Manager Jacinda

Store Manager Jacinda was a 23-year lifer who had worked her way up from the sales floor at a store in Wisconsin before joining the management training program 15 years ago.

She moved to Florida to be closer to aging parents and had to be convinced to leave her old store to manage the build for a new SuperCenter. She, the entire personnell office, both co-managers and four assistant managers are gone within two months in an unspecified "scandal."

Rumors swept the store.

"Unauthorized raises during store build." A breathless report from the Garden Center.

"She took the fall for Molly and Ken, because they were the ones who did something, but we don't know what." Grocery stocker, who heard an assistant manger talking to the produce manager

"She didn't get fired. She was just tired of Wal-Mart." The know-it-all girl at the jewelry counter, who you always suspected of "taking stock home with her." She also dealt weed and pills out of her car.

"Her momma up in Montana real sick. Dey say she gonna die." A Haitian cashier.

Who knows. I never knew.


I was always impressed by Jacinda. She was a prodigious worker, the rare leader who didn't just walk around, she pitched right in building shelves, dragging pallet movers and helping calibrate register scales.

The woman could speak. Regular post-lunch "updates" on the progress of the store offered her a chance to rouse her growing throng of workers and preach the gospel of the House of Wal.

A moving and gifted orator, she told us "People are hungry to shop," as she relayed the story of a couple who came in during the 8 a.m. rush as workers reported, filled their cart and waited at a half-built register to check out. When told the store would not open for another week, they asked if they could pay anyway.

"People are hungry to shop."

People were so eager to buy cheaply made plastic from China that they willfully ignored the fact that workers were still building some displays. They ignored the completely empty aisles in the grocery department. They ignored the empty Garden Center. They ignored the workers standing on the registers.

"People are hungry to shop."


Jacinda did care about her employees. I only had one significant interaction with her before she departed.

Very late one Friday during store build, I had been sent to the grocery side of the store with a pallet mover to bring a load of shelves to the Toys aisle. In Wal-Mart, when someone higher-ranked than you said "jump," the only correct response was "how high?" so off I went with the pallet mover, even though manual labor wasn't really my thing.

I located the shelves.

I backed the pallet mover into the stack of shelves like I'd been working in stock rooms all my life.

I hit the swinging bay doors of the grocery section with speed and purpose.

I saw the corner of one of the big freezers that would eventually house corn niblets, chicken tenders and assorted finger foods.

I swung wide like a goth in tights trying to avoid thorns in a rose garden.

Jacinda was nearby, helping put up signs in the grocery aisles. She noticed my ability with the pallet mover and nodded approvingly.

"XXXXXXXXX," what did we hire you for? A cashier?" she asked.

I nodded an affirmation.

"That's good work," she said. "Keep it up."

I always worked harder at Wal-Mart than I did my white collar job. I'll never understand why. Certainly everyone cared less.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Behind the Counter: Chapter Three

His name was Layne Lamoreaux. The moment I saw all those extra vowels, I knew he originated from somewhere deep within the old Confederacy.

The casual good looks, if a few generations removed from the cotillion days, along with the very French name spoke to an ancient family. His ancestors likely stood astride horses and looked out over a vast expanse of tobacco fields of the New World more than a hundred years before Jefferson put pen to paper.

This I calculated before we ever sat down.

"Why is he here?" I wondered. I have to imagine he thought the same about me, a fat penguin in an ill-fitting blue suit and wearing a tan sweater vest because I thought it at least lengthened my profile.

It didn't.

I was wearing four layers of clothes, a tie and a flickering hope for something magical and intangible as I stepped up to interview for a job that paid $6.25 an hour.

Layne has a crooked tooth. I notice it immediately as I take a seat across from him at a depressingly gray table in an airless room that I imagine once served as a prison for the low-ranking series of office drones who occupied the space.

Layne looks too young to be a Wal-Mart manager. Too smart too, although I was to later learn that "Wal-Mart management" and "intelligence" are mutually exclusive terms.

As I greeted Layne, my mind worked furiously. Could I impress him? Would he recognize a fellow Southerner? Would Wal-Mart understand that I had another job?

Layne started to speak. I was enthralled. Honeysuckle floated from his voice, with the scent of magnolias, roses and the crisp, bracing taste of an icy mint julep. It was the sound of Virginia royalty, white columns, stately oaks and hounds baying after a scarlet-tailed fox. Who was this man? And why was he here?

"Why do you want to work for Wal-Mart?"

"Describe your current job."

"Do you have any previous retail or service industry experience?"

"Which positions are you interested in?"

"What hours are you available to work?"

That was my interview.

As I described my current job, I got the impression Layne wasn't quite sure what to make of me.

Who can blame him?

- - -

I always had a soft spot for Layne, because I felt like he was at least a half-step above the other manager in our store. In my line of thinking, he was younger, and therefor a bit more likely to retain a few brain cells that the House of Wal hadn't flattened out of him yet.

Layne developed a bit of a protective attitude toward me too. I could always count on him to have my back - and the either explain what I needed to know or help me with what I needed.

What Layne expected in return though, was unwavering loyalty - not to him, but to Wal -Mart. The degree to which a job, a slavish retail job at that, could completely come to dominate the lives of seemingly intelligent adults still boggles my mind.

Once the store opened, I became Layne's favorite person to find whenever he needed anything doing in an area he was managing.

I hauled ladders, stocked shelves and moved flowers in the Garden Center.


Some girl named Heather, who lasted just weeks after opening, helped me stack dozens of the ugliest mechanized fur-covered kitty cats in the Toy section.

I'm not positive I can describe the horror of these things, or the insanity of the marketing executives who thought people might buy them.

Remember that old episode of "Are You Being Served?" The one with the exploding "PussyBoots" display where the cat's head and tail spin round and rotate? It looks like that. A two-foot stuffed cat with fur the color of ashes.

What is supposed to be a smile on his face resembles a snarl. The box, a color my beloved Granny would call "pussy pink," completes the presentation.

I can still remember Heather slicing into a carton, her orange box opener running neatly across the taped seam.

"Those stupid kitties," I heard her sigh in disgust. She have the box a savage kick toward the end of the aisle.

We already had a shelf full of the hideous things, plus another one of the risers, the "too-tall-too-reach" shelves above customer height.

- - -

Bit by bit though, I grew chillier toward Layne.

I could neither understand not stomach the slavish devotion to Wal-Mart, especially when it started to hurt me.

Late during our first holiday season, Layne came to the customer service manager, wanting someone to attend the register in Sporting Goods. Their last person left at 7 pm.; he needed someone for another three hours. He wanted me.

It was during those three hours I realized Big Business is fully about profit over people.

I had been scheduled to work 10 am - 7 pm. The manager that sent me back to Sporting Goods promised I could go home in an hour.

As you might expect on a Saturday at a Wal-Mart, it was busy. People wanted help; I tried the best I could because I was being paid to help. I didn't know how to sell fishing licenses. There were no instructions on the computer. I saved at least a few fish that day.

Did you know you can buy a gun at Wal-Mart? A middle-aged Hispanic gentleman came up to Sporting Goods and wanted to buy a gun.

I cannot sell a gun. By law I cannot sell a gun, because in order to sell firearms, associates have to go through special certification and training.

With no Sporting Goods staff anywhere in the building, it has to be an assistant manager. Usually as thick as flies, they are scarce on weekends.

Layne eventually shows up, looking put out that I interrupted his paperwork and gives the guy a form for the background check.

"Call me when he's done with that," he said, walking away. "And don't just stand around while you're back here. Zone the shelves."

Fifteen minutes later, I call the managers office. No answer. I page. No response. I call the customer service podium and have them radio for him. Ten minutes after the game starts, with a visibly angry customer, I get the message "Layne went home."

At least the gun had never been removed from the case.

I finally got to go home at 11 pm., after 13 hours on my feet. No one ever came to replace me.


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Behind the Counter: Chapter Two

ME: "How can I help you?"

CUSTOMER: "I'd like to return this.

ME: "Do you have a receipt?"

A casually dressed Caucasian man in his mid-forties approached the Customer Service desk. He held a toilet plunger in his hands. It was large, purple, violently so, the kind of purple that violets only dream about.

He laid it on the counter. I grasped it by the bulb end to move it out of the way and begin processing my transaction.

CUSTOMER: "It won't plunge."

ME: (internally) "Sigh. You're an asshole for not telling me you put this thing inside a nasty, shitty toilet, then brought it back and threw it on the counter here and let me touch it before telling me that. You knew that would happen and let it go on anyway. Also, I know you're lying because I have one just like this, and it will unclog anything, up to and including a toilet at a fat camp."

ME: (aloud) "It won't?"

CUSTOMER: "No. I put it in and it won't suck."

Behind the Counter: Chapter One

I sat in a car in a parking space in a patch of shade underneath a tree in a cracked and leaf-lined lot.

I sat in a car that I could not afford to pay for.

I was wearing a suit purchased four years ago. It did not fit. I have no idea why I wore a suit to interview for a job at Wal-mart.

My name is Xxxxxxx. I graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree. I was the salutatorian of my high school class, a proud graduate of my university's rigorous Honors Program and, as I proudly told anyone who would listen, eligible for MENSA.

I was $17,000 in debt even though I had a roommate and a full time, white collar job with great benefits and a solid salary.

You see, I was depressed as shit. I spent about $40,000 in six years on books, movies, CDs, bikes, coffee, etc. BMG and Columbia House, they loved me. So did the four book clubs, two coffee clubs, Netflix and the plant bulb club.

I still do not understand why I did not join a wine or chocolate club.

I came home after buying my new car, sat on my bed and cried. I looked at the book of payment coupons, thought about the amount of money in my bank account that very second and panicked.

Too unattractive to get a mall retail job, I rejected food service out of hand. Leafing through the local rag one day, I saw a big advertisement for a new Wal-Mart SuperCenter.

OK. And this one is totally where my white-girl sense of superiority got to me. I'd been into a Wal-Mart in my tiny hometown. Six lanes, the buggies are inside, "departments" are a shelf?

I thought, and I quote: "It cannot be that hard to run a register. All they got to do is scan and bag."

OK. First, mad props to every Wal-Mart cashier out there. Y'all got some crazy skills. I could not do that job. Neither could the customers. Bravo.

But for the record, I WAS correct. A six-lane Wal-Mart in a town of 6,000 is decidedly not a 24-hour SuperCenter in a metro area of 500K.

It matters not.

- - -

I'm sitting in a large room with a lot of chairs laid out in neat rows. Tables line the walls. I check in, take a seat and wait.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Where do we go from here?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving: What am I thankful for?

From the archives: What holiday is complete without a returned turkey?

I have been amazed and overwhelmed by the outpouring of wonderful comments, emails, text messages and the general torrent of support I've received from my readers.

Thank you just doesn't seem adequate, but it really is the only thing I can say. Oh, yeah. Please help control the howler monkey population in L.A. Have your howler spayed and neutered. Also, keep your hands and arms inside the Mart Cart at all times!

Your questions:

1. The "Behind the Counter" archive will remain online.

2. My new project is called "21 Minutes" - and it is available at I guess some of ya'll had tears in your eyes by the time you got down to that paragraph.

3. The behindthecounter1(at) email will remain active.

4. Wal-Mart still does not accept starter checks.

5. White trash still don't quit!

6. Comcast is still a terrible, terrible company.

7. I'm still just amazed that you liked it.

Much love. And Happy Thanksgiving.

PS: Be nice to your cashiers on Black Friday!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

How may I help you?

It is with great joy that I announce my departure from the House of Wal.

It is with a far greater amount of sadness that I announce the likely end of regular posting to

You, my faithful readers, deserve to know the rest of the story.

On October 20, 2007, in the year of our Lord, I walked out of the Wal-Mart a free woman. FREE AT LAST LORD, FREE AT LAST. I had spent 1,097 days in bondage to the Lords of Low Prices.

For most of the last year, I have struggled to come to terms with the fact that the only real reason I worked at Wal-Mart was to have material to post. The increasing popularity of Behind the Counter made it harder and harder for me to walk away from something that I had literally poured my heart and soul into over a period of three years.

This is how the argument went in my head. “My life is horrible. What’s good right now? My blog. What’s bad right now? Wal-Mart. What can I do to make my life better? Quit Wal-Mart. But if I quit Wal-Mart, I won’t have a blog.” Yeah. Vicious, please meet my friend Circle.

When I started my blog back in April of 2004, I was searching for myself, happiness and a purpose in life. Five months later, I happened to start working at Wal-Mart and Behind the Counter was born. Writing my blog gave me a purpose and a focus.

When I began writing, I never imagined that the things I put out there would attract such a diverse group of readers, fans and people who generally appreciate my work.

I started working at Wal-Mart for the sole purpose of being able to pay my bills. Over time, my real job began paying me enough so that – with prudent budgeting – I could survive without the House of Wal. I need to break the Starbucks addiction, but we’re working on that.

I cut back to just the weekends at Wal-Mart and tried to stockpile stories for an entire week of posting. One side effect of this was that I never had a day off from work. Ever. Monday-Friday at the office and Saturday-Sunday at Wal-Mart. It was a grinding schedule that I kept up for more than two years.

As Behind the Counter grew in popularity, I felt the pressure to pump out more content. Most weekends, I would come home after a 2-11 shift on Sundays and stay up writing until 5 a.m. – when I would go to sleep for three hours and then get up and get ready for work at my real job by 9 a.m.

Over the past year, I have battled depression, the likely beginnings of diabetes and come face-to-face with the fact that my life is a completely screwed-up mess of my own making.

In all that time, Behind the Counter – and constant stream of comments people leave – has been one of the only things that made me feel like getting out of bed in the morning.

Every time I checked my email, I hoped for a comment. Comments – be they good, bad, hateful or inane – were like little happiness grenades in the dark hours of my days.

If you, my readers, were making an effort to tell me how you felt about my work – I owed it to you to give you fresh content.

Even the haterade. You don’t exist on the Internet until you have haters. For every voice that speaks out, there are ten more that scream in silence.

I made mistakes – lots of them. If I had it to do over again, I would probably try to interact with my readers more. My paranoia over being discovered led early on to me instituting a “zero-contact” policy for all but the most extraordinary requests. In retrospect, I think that only made some people MORE curious about me – including some stalkers who analyzed every single post for clues.

I also wanted to sell merchandise. I had some T-shirt designs in the preliminary stages, but never got around to setting up a store on Zazzle. I really, really wanted to sell T-shirts where someone tries to return a baby.

Over the past year, my responsibilities at my real job have grown enormously. Some weeks, I spent up to 80+ hours at both jobs. Something was going to have to give.

I have always made no bones of the fact that I personally feel that Wal-Mart is not the best steward of its workers. The company as a whole needs to be broken down to its component pieces and completely rebuilt.

The current attitude of the bean-counters in Bentonville – who are issuing directives for the store-level employees without ever having been inside a store – are incredibly damaging to employee morale. So too is the absolute refusal to acknowledge the fact that stores cannot deliver even a minimal level of customer service if confined to the insanely low limits of the Bentonville directives for staffing.

In the time period from March until I left in October, I got a 2-11 p.m. shift nearly every Saturday and a 2-11 p.m. nearly every Sunday. I can count on one hand the number of shifts that were not 2-11. For that entire time, I was the only person scheduled at the Service Desk after the morning people went home at 4 p.m.

Psychologically, I knew that I could handle it. Wal-Martians don’t scare me. I am smarter, better and a thousand times meaner. However, it is immensely draining to go through weekend after weekend after weekend of the same crap, facing down the ghetto trash, the white trash and the dregs of society that only crawl out from under their rocks after dark. Nearly every Sunday, I had to plead for someone to give me my lunch; if I got a second break I sent a silent prayer up to the heavens and Kali’s waiting arms.

Wal-Mart literally does not care about its employees. They will mouth pretty words, but they are as empty as Paris Hilton’s head. The final straw came sometime in early summer. I had a rare 10-7 shift on Sunday and was actually looking forward to getting home in time to do laundry and sleep before going to work on Monday. When did I leave? 10 p.m. TWELVE HOURS AT THE HOUSE OF WAL.

I have had several long talks with the very few people in my life that I trusted with the secret of Behind the Counter. (Thank you all, you know who you are!) Every time they asked me “Why are you still working there?” – the only answer I could give was that I needed material for my blog. Finally, that answer just wasn’t good enough anymore.

I had to make a terrible choice – between my sanity and my blog. To be fair, it took me nearly a year to finally decide to walk away from Behind the Counter. I don’t believe that my writing should make me unhappy – and going to the House of Wal each weekend simply made me miserable.

At the end of the day, I wrote about entitled idiots trying to scam the system and generally acting like they need a beating with whips made of scorpions. I saw a niche in the blog ecosystem and I filled it – maybe not especially well or with great style and verve – but I filled it.

My next project is going to be “21 Minutes” – which is linked in the top right-hand column. (I thought seriously about concentrating on my Howler Monkeys project, but at the end of the day, I don’t think it has real legs. I mean, how much complaining about children can I do?)

What is “21 Minutes?” Well, the premise is that I’m going to go somewhere each day and describe the action for 21 minutes. The same snark, the same fashion critique, the same howler monkeys, the same WOACAs, the same witty wordplay. We may even do a post at the Wal-Mart from time to time. I hope you like it. If not, that’s fine too. This is something I’m doing for myself – and it doesn’t make me hurt inside.

Right now, I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time. I’ve had a few weekends to spend reconnecting with my friends, rebuilding my social life and trying to figure out what exactly it is that I’m going to do with the rest of my life.

For the record, I want to personally thank each and every reader of Behind the Counter over the past three years. Thank you for reading. Thank you for leaving comments. Thank you for subscribing via RSS. Thank you sending me your emails. Thank you for clicking on the advertisements. Thank you for putting links on your own personal Web pages and blogrolls. And to the two people who purchased me gifts off my Amazon Wish ListI LOVE YOU!

At the end of the day, all I did was write. Thank you all for appreciating it.

Yes. You all still have questions. No. I’m still not going to tell you my name or the location of my store. I’m not stupid. Anything else you want to know, please leave it in the comments.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

In tha dog pound

It has been hella busy lately, so I'm not always at Customer Service right when I go in at 2 p.m. - because that seems to be the only schedule I ever get nowadays - 2-11 p.m.

Saturday I go in and there is a new co-manager running the front end and all the supervisors are on a register. Instead of the service desk, she asks if I can watch the Self Checkouts for a while. OK. Fine. They're theft magnets and people are stupid. Sounds the same to me.

There's a new thing now where we're not supposed to actually stand at the monitoring station - with the cash register and the computer that has the monitor for all four self-checkouts. We're supposed to stand out in the middle of the Self-Checkout aisles and "be available" for customers - which generally means you get pulled four ways at once and don't get anything done.

I'm trying to help this WOACA ring up tomatoes - all the while she's insisting that "TOMATOES CANNOT COST THIS MUCH IN NOVEMBER." Seriously lady. Yes they can.

Then I see the tragedy start to unfold.

There's a hugely fat woman with not one, not two, but three screaming howler monkeys. She's got one of those Wal-Mart kid-carts, with the child seats built into the buggy under the handle. Two crotchlings are seated there; the third is clinging to the side of the buggy like a shipwreck survivor. They are howling fit to raise the dead. They want chips, candy, movies, a soda, their Nintendo DS. What they NEED is a good spanking and a lesson on how to act in public.

The cart is full. Not just full, but overflowing. Either she only shops once a month or there are additional howler monkeys at home. Dear Kali, perish the thought. Underneath the buggy, she's jammed a couple of cases of water and soda and also managed to wedge a sack of Ol' Roy dog food that sits precariously on the edge. The howler clinging to the side is repeatedly bouncing on the sack of Ol' Roy - causing it to lean further out of the buggy.

I see her come by Register 1, bend down and re-adjust the dog food, trying to jam it up under the buggy some more. Then she's distracted by the screaming howlers and yells at them to "Just shut up and wait a minute. Mommy's almost done."

She finally KICKS the dog food and pushes the buggy forward.

Unfortunately for her, those kiddie carts aren't the most maneuverable. Think station wagons - without power steering.

A corner of the sack of dog food hangs on the bottom of one of the shelf displays. I see her having trouble and move to go over, but am caught by this idiot woman who can't find the barcode on a carton of water. See people, it is NOT as simple as "scan and bag."

When I look up again, the woman and her howler monkeys are down by register five.

Unfortunately, so is half a sack of Ol' Roy - marking the trail like some bizarre Hansel and Gretel.

I yell at her "Ma'am. Ma'am Ma'am"

She doesn't here me over her howlers. And she keeps on going. Register 7. More dog food.

I yell at her "Ma'am. Ma'am Ma'am"

Register 9. Register 11. She's trying to find a short line.

She turns in at Register 13. And the woman beside her goes "What the hell is that?"

Yes. Ol'Roy.

All the way from Register 2 down to Register 13.

And it stank. I really do not know who feeds that stuff to their dogs.

Seriously people. You know what Wal-Mart feeds to people. Do you really want to know what they feed to dogs?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

I want a red T-shirt

Sunday night is the last time and place to be making "demands" of just about anyone at Wal-Mart. Whatever "help" you get is going to be thinking about the long weekend they just spent helping the other 20,000 people just like you spending the other $1 million dollars our store does every weekend.

So when this elderly gentleman rolls up to Customer Service after 10 p.m. on Sunday night and throws a light blue T-shirt on the counter and started yelling at me, I have to say, I wasn't exactly in the best mood. Nevertheless, I did try to help him. He just didn't want my help.

Him: "I want a T-shirt exactly like this (as he's stabbing his huge finger at the blue one) except that it is red, a size large and has a pocket on it." In other words, you want a totally different shirt!
Me: And I, in retrospect, followed a bad plan, and tried to inject some levity into the situation by saying "And I want a winning Lotto ticket!" And then I laughed.
Him: The man gave one of the nastiest looks I've ever had. And then goes "So that's what you have to do to get service around here, win the d*mn lottery?"
Me: "Sir, it was just a joke. Now, where did you find that shirt? Have you looked over in our menswear section. Do you need directions?"
Him: "No, I've been over there with two girls. They can't find any more for me."
Me: "Sir, if they can't find any, then we must be out of the red shirts."
Him: "That's not what I said."
Me: "What exactly are you asking me for then sir?"
Him: "I want you to go on that computer there — and he stabs his finger at my register — and type in "red shirt" and find me a red shirt."
Me: "It doesn't work that way sir."
Him: "Whaddya mean it don't work that way! I know they've got to have perpetual inventory around here. This is a huge company."
Me: "I understand that sir. But inventory is not done by name of product but by UPC number." And I show him the barcode off the shirt he has. And I explain. "This number will tell me how many of this particular shirt we have in stock, how many are in the warehouse and how many have been ordered. But I can't ask the computer for red shirt, pocket shirt or large shirt. That won't tell me anything."
Him: "So you're telling me that you're not going to help me?"

My supervisor, who happened to be at Customer Service the whole time, finally took over.

Supervisor: "Sir, you've had two people looking through menswear for the shirts. They told you we don't have any more. We've told you that we can't just go into the computer and look for a "red shirt with pocket. What else can we do for you? Do you want someone to go back over to menswear with you?

Him: "This is just not the kind of F****** help I expect from F****** Customer Service."

And the throws the shirt he has in his hands into an unattended buggy and stomps out.

I hope he falls and breaks his hip.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Guest Post: There is no 'back' - only the back of my hand

Another guest post here - and another one from the wilds of Canada. Original material from "Hello Me Ducky" - with editing and rewrites by Behind the Counter.

People. Please. The only "back" in a Wal-Mart is the back of my hand as I slap you across your face when you ask that I "go to the back" and find you something that isn't on the shelf. Comprendez vous?


Let's take it from the top. I work in Howler Monkey central, Department 26, otherwise known as Infants. I put things on the shelf. I can help you, but only if you're not to stupid to breathe. Of course, you’re shopping at the House of Wal …

Pop quiz:

There are six pallets of freight out on the floor. All of it needs to go on the shelves by the end of my shelf. Do you:
a) edge around the boxes to do your shopping?
b) dip your head into my aisle, see that I'm busy and move on?
c) start opening boxes and pawing through them looking for a pair of socks for your godforsaken baby that looks like a prune cross-bred with a shar-pei and then laid in the sun for thirty-eight years
d) ask me "Is there any more in the back?"

If I dealt with you last Saturday, you perpetrated BOTH options C & D.

Ma'am, go die in a fire.

If all this stuff is lying in piles around me, what makes you think there is yet MORE in the back?

Please. Do I come to your house and rifle through your drawers looking for a knife to stab you with? Even though the very thought of such murderous violence pleases me mightily!

Do you really know what’s “in the back” of a Wal-Mart? Not much actually.

On the GM (General Merchandise) side, there’s rows and rows of huge shelves about fifteen feet high with four levels each. Each department has so many rows – based on how big the department is.

Theoretically, all the “overstock” – more of the same from the floor – goes into this area. It is supposed to be labeled by the date it was received off the truck and type of merchandise it is. In reality, it is a huge jumbled junk drawer of out-of-season merchandise that a team of trained managers couldn’t wade through with a shovel and a pricing gun. Most stock comes straight off the trucks and onto the sales floor.

On the grocery side, there's a little bit of cold storage for fresh fruit & vegetables and a freezer. The trucks for the grocery side come every day.

Friday, November 09, 2007


There’s no “Five Finger Friday” this week. Like I said. I’ve been having “issues.”

Instead, let us break down the stupidity of the Comcastic service and the reason I hope all their phone monkeys die in a fire. People seem wildly interested. You will understand why I wish death on their phone monkeys.

Fair warning. This is long, long, long, long, long. More like 3800 words long.

I really don’t know what to do. I loathe Comcast. I could seriously contemplate doing without TV – except that I would then possess an insanely expensive modded TiVo box with no purpose other than decoration.

I also don’t know what I’d do without reliable high-speed Internet access at home. I NEED to be able to work at home for my real job.

If anyone has experience with aircards, please leave a comment. I’m a little leery of them – but am seriously thinking of going to the Verizon store to at least hear what they have to say. I belong to the cult of Apple – so take that into consideration.


Comcast and I have been fighting a war since January. January people. It would be funny if it were not so tragically awful.

Fact the first: Comcast is a local monopoly. There is NO other option for cable television service, other than DISH Network.

Fact the second: The ONLY other option for Internet service is through Embarq – the rebranded Sprint local service – which enjoys a monopoly on the local telephone service.


Fact the third: Of the two, I used to despise Comcast marginally less. I also do not have a landline, which is why I went with Comcast for Internet service.

Fact the fourth: I live in an old building that was converted to apartments in an older area of town. It is quaint, has more charm than five Southern ladies and plays hell with infrastructure. The neighborhood was here before telephones and cable television and fiber-optics and all that jazz. Still, not my problem. That’s what I pay Comcast to deal with. That’s what I pay Comcast a VERY large chunk of money to deal with.

Fact the fifth: In JANUARY I began having problems where my digital cable (HBO/Showtime) and high-speed Internet would go out – but where I still had the basic tier of cable channels. Basic signal strength. I get everything but the digital cable channels. For some reason, it seems like I speak Swahili whenever I try to explain that to Comcast.

Fact the sixth: Highly annoyed that I am paying more than $140 a month for the privilege of not being able to watch “The Sopranos” or post to, I call Comcast. This is January 29. I have to schedule a “service call” for Feb. 2. They neglect to tell me that I will get a “confirmation call,” so I am in a phones-off-meeting at work when Comcast calls to “confirm” the appointment and miss the technician. Because of out-of-town obligations, I have to reschedule for Feb. 16 – a two-week time period during which my digital cable and Internet work only intermittently.

Fact the seventh: The “window” for the next service call is “1-5 p.m.” Having learned from the “confirmation call,” I take the afternoon of Feb. 16 off – and find myself unable to work from home because – SURPRISE - the Internet is out again. The “technician” arrives at 5:45 p.m. – at which point everything is working properly. Have I mentioned I hate Comcast? The technician looks at my modem, looks at the cable box, has me sign a sheet saying that he did indeed come to my apartment – and leaves. If he was in my presence for more than 3 minutes, I’ll eat my MacBook without soy sauce.

Fact the eighth: Five hours later, as I’m trying to catch up on the work I didn’t get done during the day, the Internet goes out again. I call Comcast. “Do you want to schedule a service call?” Well I guess so, since you seem incapable of resolving my problem. Maybe this tech will be brighter than the one before. My obvious irritation gets me an appointment on the Feb. 19. My Internet service is working intermittently – but more on than off.

Fact the ninth: The appointment window for Feb. 19 was 5-9 p.m. – I told them I couldn’t miss work just to wait for the “technician” to show up 45 minutes after the window closed. This “technician” walks in, says “It’s not your equipment. It’s a problem with the line,” has me sign the paper stating that he did come to my apartment and leaves. He was inside for less than one minute.

Fact the tenth: Things are good for two days, until I wake up on Feb. 21 and have no Internet service. I sigh and go to work. I come home ten hours later and there’s STILL no Internet service. I say “To hell with it” and go to bed. The next morning, Feb. 22, I wake up and see that I STILL don’t have Internet service. I get on the phone. “Do you want to schedule a service call?” NO! I DO NOT WANT A DAMN SERVICE CALL. IT IS NOT A SERVICE CALL. IT IS AN EXERCISE IN POINTLESS STUPIDITY.

Fact the eleventh: When faced with the third “Do you want to schedule a service call?” question, I detail the pointless service calls I have received so far. And I tell the phone monkey to look at the notes on the account. Her response “Oh. I guess there is a problem. Well, I can get you a service call.” I hung up on her.

Fact the twelfth: I get home on Feb. 22 and the Intarwebz are working again – right up until around 2 a.m.

Fact the thirteenth: Comcast gets another call. The first time I call, I wind through the phone system and wind up at a LOCAL billing facility in Kentucky. This only fills me with more rage. At this point I’ve decided that I’m through playing nice. I have the utmost respect for people in customer service positions, but a “service call” is not going to do it. Money will be refunded. Please note that I had to request a credit. At no point during ANY conversation with ANY Comcast CSR did ANY person EVER offer to compensate me for the outages.

Fact the fourteenth: In the early morning hours of Feb. 23, I get another stupid phone monkey – who seems to share the trait of being unable to listen and COMPREHEND what the customer is saying to her. As soon as she asks “Do you want to schedule a service call,” I tell her NO and tell her exactly why. The problem is NOT with my line, my equipment or anything else under my control. A “service call” isn’t going to fix any of that. What I need is for Comcast to fix their bad infrastructure. My irritation was mighty. It had been two weeks of essentially no Internet at home – even though I was paying Comcast an enormous sum each month. Her response? “Well, I can schedule a service call and put a note to send a supervisor or a ‘super technical’ person out there.”

Fact the fifteenth: We set up a service call for Feb. 28. I get a 3-7 p.m. window and a substantial credit.

Fact the sixteenth: My Internet manages to stay on until Feb. 28. It manages to go out an hour before the technician arrives. I actually thank the entire pantheon of gods in the heavens, because I can now demonstrate what is happening with words and pictures – because it is my considered opinion that the Comcast “technicians” are as dumb as a sack of hammers.

Fact the seventeenth: This turns out to be just another ‘service call.’ The ‘super technical’ person turns out to be just another technician – albeit one with a slightly higher degree of competence. This one actually LISTENS when I explain what is going on – and says “It’s a problem with the line – you’re losing signal strength.” WELL I COULD HAVE TOLD YOU THAT. I TOLD EVERY SINGLE PERSON I EVER TALKED TO AT COMCAST THAT I GOT BASIC CABLE BUT NOT DIGITAL AND HIGH-SPEED INTERNET. COMPLETE EFFING MORONS WHO DO NOT AND CANNOT LISTEN TO THEIR CUSTOMERS.

Fact the eighteenth: This technician actually makes the effort to go out and root around in the yard behind my apartment building and test the wires coming into my apartment. He replaces the connections on my apartment’s specific wire and shows me a device that measures the signal strength. It clearly shows that I’m not getting enough ‘oomph’ for premium cable and high-speed Internet.

Fact the nineteenth: I sign yet another “Tech wuz here” form, and the technician promises to report back and have a line crew sent out to “look at the lines in the area.”

Fact the twentieth: We’re good until the early morning hours of March 13, when I again experience withdrawal of Internet service. Comcast gets another phone call.

Fact the twenty-first: This time around, I get a phone monkey who offers a “service call,” gets my NO AND HERE’S WHY reply and only then looks at the notes. She tells me that the technician never requested any follow up action. I wanted to throw the phone through a window.

Fact the twenty-second: I get yet ANOTHER service call for March 22 – “because we’re just really busy.” Damn. I wonder why? Could it be you have craptastic service? This service call is double-promised to be the ever-elusive line crew and I confirm with the phone monkey that I do not need to be at my apartment for this. I also get a credit for a week of service.

Fact the twenty-third: Flash-forward to March 22. I have working Internet at home. I’m in a meeting at work when I get a phone call from Comcast to confirm my “service call.” I wanted to physically beat someone until they were bloody, then continue to reduce the meatbag to its component parts – using just my hands.

Fact the twenty-fourth: I tell the tech that I don’t want a service call, and that I want a line crew. I also tell him that I’m not driving home just for him to say “Yup. It’s a problem with the line.” The tech asks if I am canceling the call. I tell him that he can do whatever he wants, but I’m not wasting any more time with Comcast.

Fact the twenty-fifth: I get home around 6 p.m. on March 22 only to find that – SHOCKER – my Internet is out again. Comcast gets another call.

Fact the twenty-sixth: This phone monkey informs me that I canceled a service call that afternoon and should not be complaining – because calls can take like eight days to get set up. I demand the phone monkey read the notes on the account. “Oh.” More promises of a line crew.

Fact the twenty-seventh: Sometime after midnight on April 3, my service, which has been off-and-on, but more on than off, conks out entirely.

Fact the twenty-eight: April 4, an entire day with no service.

Fact the twenty-ninth: April 5, an entire day with no service.

Fact the thirtieth: April 6, an entire day with no service.

Fact the thirty-first: April 7 dawns and I have Internet service – right up to the point I go out to get lunch and come back. It’s out again. I have become used to such “comcastic” service by now. I just sacrifice another floppy disk at the altar of the modem and pray it comes back on. Soon. Please. Must have LOLcatz.

Fact the thirty-second: Some time after midnight on April 9, I decide that I have had enough of Comcast’s shitty service. I call, get the “Do you want to schedule a service call?” spiel and demand to speak with a supervisor.

Fact the thirty-third: This complete and utter tool of a human being and I spend more than 40 minutes on the telephone arguing about why I “HAVE” to have a service call in order for me to get a credit. I detail the entire list of issues I have had with Comcast – including the multiple time-wasting “service calls.” Allegedly, it is Comcast policy to not issue a credit until the problem is “resolved.” WELL MOTHER-F*****. I WANT A CREDIT FOR EVERY SINGLE DAY SINCE FEBRUARY 9 BECAUSE MY PROBLEM IS STILL NOT RESOLVED. Apparently, because I did not call to report the outage on the first day I did not have service – April 3, I can’t get a credit for any day prior to today. And battle is joined. Note to Comcast: Whoever this CSR is, you need to promote them, or pay them more. They have drunk the Comcastic Kool-Aid and will defend your slutty Comcastic honor to their last breath.

Fact the thirty-fourth: After 40 minutes of me refusing a service call and ComTool refusing to give me a credit unless I agreed to a time-wasting service call, I capitulated. I sold my honor for a $35 credit. I got a service call for April 10 – with a 1-5 p.m. window.

Fact the thirth-fifth: I told ComTool that I was completely disgusted with the way Comcast was treating me – an that I felt like I was being ignored every time I called – even though there were pages of notes on my account. Moreover, I felt that I was not getting good value for my money. ComTool – probably because he was as sick of talking to me as I was talking to him – told me to call every time my service was out to request a credit - which is a DIRECT contradiction to how things are ALLEGED to work.

Fact the thirty-sixth: The morning of April 10 dawns and I have Internet service. I get a queasy feeling, because morning service usually means no afternoon service and vice versa. I sacrifice another floppy disk to the altar of the modem in the hope that if it does go out, it will be out when this latest idiot technician is here.

Fact the thirty-seventh: I take ANOTHER afternoon off work and come home to wait for ComTech. Five o’clock rolls around and there is nothing. Six o’clock and nothing. Seven o’clock and nothing. At least I still have Internet service. At 7:30 p.m., the technician calls and says he is “running late.” REALLY!

Fact the thirty-eighth: This technician comes, says “It’s a problem with the line,” pokes around the box that has the lines going up to my apartment, sees that another tech replaced the connection and tests the signal strength. I’ve still got Internet, so of course it is bumping. He tells me “I don’t know.” I AM TELLING YOU WHAT THE PROBLEM IS. It is NOT the line into my apartment. It is NOT my equipment. It is the MAIN LINE FOR THE NEIGHBORHOOD. HOW HARD IS THAT TO UNDERSTAND?

Fact the thirty-ninth: I sign yet another “Tech wuz here” form and go back upstairs to my apartment. The Internet is out. I debate my options: drink, drugs or a chainsaw. Maybe a hammer like that crazy woman in Pennsylvania.

Fact the fortieth: I immediately call Comcast and demand they confirm I just had a service call and yet still do not have service. “Do you want to schedule another service call?” Only the fact that I knew getting angry at this stupid cow would solve NOTHING prevented me from going into a fit which would have rivaled any white trash throwdown at any Wal-Mart anywhere in America.

Fact the forty-first: I demand a credit. “Well, we don’t do that.” I’m sorry, but you are unable to provide me with service. I want a credit. “Okay.”

Fact the forty-second: My Internet service resumes a day later and manages to bump along for a couple months. April, May, June. July. August. It looks like they finally fixed whatever needed fixing. There are intermittent outages, but these usually occur sometime around 3 a.m. and are usually over by the time I wake up and leave for work. Given the balance of how bad it WAS, I’m happy to have service 95% of the time.

Fact the forty-third: On August 11, the Internet starts burping again. My service goes out for the entire day on the August 11. I’m not around much on a Saturday, so I don’t really let it bother me. I figure it will come back Sunday.

Fact the forty-fourth: I wake up Sunday morning and the service is still out. I come home from the House of Wal at 11:30 p.m. and the service is still out. I’m angry, but don’t feel like picking at the scab of my Comcastic wounds just right then.

Fact the forty-fifth: I wake up Monday, August 13 and see that I have service again. I chalk it up to a momentary interruption and forget about it.

Fact the forty-sixth: August 15, my service goes out again around 10 p.m. I take it as a sign and go to bed.

Fact the forty-seventh: August 16 dawns and service is still not restored. I call Comcast and argue with them for a while. “Do you want to schedule a service call?” NO.

Fact the forty-eighth: Comcast’s phone monkeys and I, we do a little pas de deux while arguing over a credit for the past week. “I can’t give you a credit if you don’t have a service call.” I DON’T WANT A SERVICE CALL. IT IS A WASTE OF MY TIME AND YOURS. “I can’t give you a credit if you don’t have a service call. We don’t give a credit until the problem is ‘resolved.’” This would have been cute if I had not gotten at least three credits without a “resolution” to my problem.

Fact the forty-ninth: I allow them to schedule a service call. I pick a day at random and ask for the latest possible block. When the technician calls to confirm the appointment, I press IGNORE on my phone. If you waste my time with your vast reservoir of stupidity and unhelpfulness, I will waste yours.

Fact the fiftieth: The problem sorts itself out by August 21. A credit for about $10 later shows up on my September bill.

Fact the fifty-first: Throughout late summer and into fall, I experience only brief outages – usually late at night and nearly always gone by the time I wake up.

Fact the fifty-second: Some time around 11 p.m. on November 1 I lose Internet service. Seeing as how this is the first time in at least a month I’ve had an outage, I chalk this one up to bad luck and move on. I’m back online the next morning.

Fact the fifty-third: Some time after midnight on November 3 I lose service again. I sigh and move on. I’m back online the next morning.

Fact the fifty-fourth: I am without service when I get home around midnight on November 4. I’m NOT back up the next morning but appear to be OK by late afternoon.

Fact the fifty-fifth: Depressingly, I am without service when I arrive home around 10 p.m. on Nov. 5. I can’t deal and just go to bed. Repeat on November 6.

Fact the fifty-sixth: I’m trying to write on Wednesday night (Nov. 7) when I lose Internet service around 1 a.m. I am in a really evil mood, so I pick up the phone and call Comcast. “Do you want to schedule a service call?”

Fact the fifty-seventh: Phone monkey is unimpressed by the litany of issues documented on my account and repeatedly demands that I take a service call – or else she can’t help me. I refuse, ask that my outages be documented on my account and request a transfer to Billing for credits.

Fact the fifty-eighth: The phone monkey in Billing is even worse. “I can’t give you a credit without a service call. We don’t give a credit until the problem is resolved.” EVEN THOUGH A ‘SERVICE CALL’ IS NOT GOING TO RESOLVE MY PROBLEM?

Fact the fifty-ninth: The ComBill wench and I go round-and-round for at least twenty minutes. Apparently, their history of bad service is my fault, because I have placed any “potential” credit in danger by not reporting the problem immediately. “If you want a credit for Nov. 2, why didn’t you call on Nov. 2.” I straight up told her – “I have better things to do than stay on the phone with Comcast all day, every day.”

Fact the sixtieth: We agree to disagree – and to submit my account for “research” to determine if I really had an outage. I PAY YOU $144 EVERY MONTH AND YOU ARE ARGUING WITH ME OVER A HALF-DAY CREDIT FOR FIVE DAYS? I hope every single one of your diseased howler monkey loin fruit dies a horrible death – except the one who lives long enough to abandon you in a nursing home.

Fact the sixty-first: About 1 a.m. on November 9, as I am writing this history of my travails with Comcast, I lose Internet service yet again.

Fact the sixty-second: I call Comcast. “Do you want to schedule a service call?” NO! I DO NOT WANT A SERVICE CALL.

Fact the sixty-third: Phone monkey starts muttering “Let me look at your modem.” I tell him “There is no problem with my equipment, the line into my apartment or my connection. Please check the notes and confirm what I am saying.” Phone monkey goes “Oh.”

Fact the sixty-fourth: This phone monkey looks at the notes on the account and pretends to listen when I say that having a ‘service call’ is a waste of time. I request a line crew. I now allegedly have a line crew.

Fact the sixty-fifth: Phone monkey asks how long I’ve been having an outage, even though this was allegedly documented last night. I tell him. He “checks” something and tells me “Yeah. I can see where the modem has been going offline overnight all week.” I wanted to scream at him.

Fact the sixty-sixth: I bite my tongue and ask him to put all this into my file. I will have ammo the next time I go into battle with the wenches in Comcast Billing.

Have I mentioned I hate Comcast?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Hair today, gone tomorrow

I’m sorry. There have been *issues.* Posts have been eaten. Phones have been thrown across the room. People have been cursed. Supervisors have been requested. I'm sure that I'm on "customers_suck" on LiveJournal at this point. Comcast is the worst company in the free world when it comes to customer service. Also the worst when it comes to actually keeping their product, I don't know, WORKING! I hope every single one of their local, regional and corporate offices burn down and all their phone monkey slaves die with their idiotic, condescending and unhelpful tails tied to their chairs.


I’m slaving away, as per usual. It’s a Sunday. My feet hurt and I regret mightily eating that leftover Olive Garden takeout for my lunch because it is just causing *issues.*

Every 20 minutes I’m praying the customers leave me alone and screaming “Dequetta (my supervisor, name changed to protect the innocent, but she IS a ghettolicious superstar), can you watch Customer Service for a minute? I got to go.” That’s what kind of a day it is.

In the midst of all this fun comes one of my regulars, a hot-blooded twenty-something who seems to make a pastime out of buying and returning clothes. She’s the type of upscale consumer Wal-Mart would love to attract more of – but hates to try on clothes in the store. And she buys four sizes of everything and returns three of them.

Mizz Thing is working it today. I guess she visited the new bebe store in town. She’s rocking a pink and white bebe sport outfit today – sweatpants, tee and hoodie. Of course, the letters hit RIGHT where it would do the most good – right across the boobs and the buns. Not that this sister needs any more attention. She’s got just enough curves in all the right places.

What I do notice is that she’s rocking a new ‘do. She’s added some purple highlights to the black shag on either side of her face. Dramatic, but cute.

Today she’s returning a hair-dryer. We’re talking heavy-duty hair-dryer here. Leaves would tremble in terror at mere mention of this thing. Seriously. She slammed it up on the counter and at first I thought it was something from hardware until I looked at the receipt.

Cue the fun:

ME: “Can I help you? How are you doing today?” If I know you, I'm friendly. At least until you try to run game.
HER: “Good. I just need to return this hair dryer.”
ME: “OK. Do you have your receipt?” Almost always does. She knows the score.
HER: “It’s right here.”
ME: “OK.” Receipt is a month old.
ME: “Uh. Was there a problem with it?”
HER: “Oh. I didn’t use it. I bought it for my sister and she looked at it and said she didn’t want it because it was too big.”

ME: Looking at the box. It’s one of those clear plastic case things, and there is something bothering me.
HER: “So how have you been? It is so busy today.”
ME: Distractedly. “Fine.” Something about this box and the hairdryer is tickling my admittedly tiny brain.
HER: “That’s good. Is it always this busy on Sundays?”
ME: Still looking at the box. “Yeah. It was real busy earlier.” I finally figure out what is bothering me. Something is missing from the box. There's actually an empty space where something should be and that something isn't there.

HER: “I came in and didn’t see you earlier. I guess you were on your lunch or something.”
ME: “Um. Did this come with an attachment or something? Because it looks like there is supposed to be something here.”
HER: “Oh. It did. It had a diffuser attachment. I took that out because it fits on my other hair dryer. I decided to keep it and just bring the hair dryer back.”

ME: “Um. Um. I …” Houston, we have a problem.
HER: “I don’t want this hair dryer though. I just wanted the attachment. That’s all I bought it for.”
ME: “Yeah. I kind of need the attachment if I’m going to give you the money back for the whole hair dryer.”
HER: “But the whole hair dryer is there. Just not the attachment.”

ME: “Yeah. It’s kind of not. It comes with an attachment. And you still have the attachment.”
HER: “I want to keep the attachment.”
ME: “If you keep the attachment, you can keep the hair dryer.”
HER: “I don’t want the hair dryer.”
ME: “You can’t return it without the attachment.”
HER: “Why not?”
ME: “Because you bought it with the attachment – and you have to return it with the attachment.”
HER: “That’s not fair. I only want to keep the parts I want and return the rest.”

ME: “But they’re sold as a set.”
HER: “I think I should get to keep the attachment. I shop here all the time.”
ME: “No.”
HER: “That’s not fair.”
ME: “Well, you can’t get something for free.”
HER: “I don’t want something for free. I bought a hair dryer and I’m returning a hair dryer.”
ME: “But you’re keeping the attachment. You’re not returning everything you purchased.”

HER: “That’s what I said. I want to return the hair dryer.”
ME: “If you bring the attachment.”
HER: “But I want to keep the attachment.”
ME: “No. Hair dryer and attachment, I’ll return it. Otherwise, no return.”
HER: “That’s just not fair.”
ME: “Well, I’m sorry, but that’s how it’s going to be.”

Finally, she pouts some more and walks off. As she leaves, I notice she has bebe written in pink over her rump. It ought to be "baby."


Sunday, November 04, 2007

I lost my paycheck and my mind inside the House of Wal

“I lost my fifty-two thousand dollar paycheck and you’re gonna help me find it.”

Crazy people and Sunday mornings seem to go together like a horse and carriage – or like a straightjacket and a mental patient – or like bitchy comments and “in the style of” posts.

I drag in Sunday morning after a hard day’s night spent praying to Ralph on the big porcelain phone. Thank you, bad Chinese food. I will never eat crab rangoon at a strange Chinese buffet again – as long as I live. I’m sucking down the Gatorade and the water and feeling like my stomach is playing host to the Mexican Jumping Bean Olympics of 2020.

The absolute last thing I want to get is a briefing from the overnight supervisor about “this crazy man.”

OK. There’s a crazy man. Par for usual at the Wal-Mart. Here’s the story so far, from the overnight supervisor, who is Haitian, and English is her third language, and she had been dealing with the man for three hours and was completely fed up with him.

“This man, he crazy. He come in at 4 a.m. He say he lose a paycheck for $52,000 in the store. I tell him I not find it. I tell him to call de cops. He tell me he have to have it and to close de doors and not let anyone out. I tell him it not my fault he lose things.”

“He tell me he a doctor and this his check for just one week. I look at him and he look drunk, like he not right in the head. I tell him I look for de check, but I not find de check and he need to go where he was in the store and look for the check.”

She is basically in tears at this point, because apparently the man kept coming up to her every half-hour all night and asking “Did you find my check? Did you find my check? Did you find my check?”

All she could tell him was “No” and all the while she is thinking “It is not my fault you can’t keep up with a check allegedly for $52,000.”


The overnight girl goes home. About fifteen minutes later, I get my first look at what all the fuss is about. So help me Shiva it looks like something that escaped from an insane asylum.

A man in scrubs and dirty tennis shoes comes around the corner, followed by a woman in one of those wheelchair carts. He had bloodshot eyes that had seen the bottom of many a bottle of Jim Beam and was likely on a first-name basis with Captain Morgan, Jack Daniels and Johnnie Walker. He had an odor that came from no emergency room. It came from sleeping in the clothes you wore to bed again and again and again and again. I don’t even get time for a “How can I help you?” before he blurts out “DID YOU FIND MY CHECK YET?

ME: “No sir. Why don’t you write your name down and we can call you if we do find it?”
HIM: “I don’t want to do that.”
ME: “Okay. Well, you can call or come back tomorrow.”
HIM: “I WANT MY MONEY. MY MOTHER NEEDS THIS STUFF.” What did Mommy Dearest having her cart? Some white bread, some skim milk and some strawberries.
ME: “OK. Like I said. You can write down your info, call, or come back.” Because I for one already think you’re crazy.
HIM: “I’m a doctor. That’s my paycheck for A WHOLE WEEK.” Seriously. $52,000. That’s a lot of scratch. And he really wanted me to know that it was his check for a WHOLE week.
ME: “OK.” Not giving him anything to work with.”
HIM: “I’m going to go walk around some more.” Because if walking around looking for this mythical check for three hours hasn’t turned it up, walking around some more will surely help.

And he rolls off.

At 7:45 a.m. he’s back. With Mommy Dearest in tow. She’s added a five-pound bag of potatoes to the mix – totally crushing the bread.

ME: “No.” Probably because this check only exists in your mind. Your fevered, deluded, drug-addled mind.
HIM: “Oh. Because I thought someone might have turned it in.”
ME: “Not yet.”

Off he goes again.

Repeat two more times until about 9 a.m.

At at the 8 o’clock check-in, Mommy Dearest has added a package of marshmallows and a jar of peanut butter. Oh, and I forgot to mention she’s wearing a gigantic floral muumuu the likes of which could keep any botanical garden in business for five years and which would make Alan Titchmarch and Charlie Dimmock blush with shame for the flowers that died in vain for that piece of fabric.

At the 8:30 a.m. check-in, there's a package of sliced cheese, a box of tampons and some adult diapers. LOVELY!

He also manages to bug the morning supervisor, the cashier on Register 14, the girl in Jewelry, the morning accounting associate and most of the morning sales associates. People keep coming up to Customer Service and asking “Is that man crazy?” Well, yes. But he’s not threatened anyone yet, so management won’t throw him out. Nor has he tried to steal. He’s just wandering around like a lunatic.

Around 9:15 a.m., I go out for my break and I see this man haranguing the girl at the self-checkouts down by Register 20. I’m thinking. “Geez man. You seriously need to give it up. And it would really help your cause if you didn’t look like a patient instead of a doctor!”

When I get back from my break – he’s back at Customer Service raising a racket with the girl who replaced me, telling this same old tired story for what has to be the 70th time since about 4 o’clock this morning. “I had a check, a paycheck for $52,000, it was everything I made for this week. I need to cash it.” The girl is looking at him like he’s crazy.

Which. You know, BECAUSE HE IS CRAZY!

He finally gives up and starts piling the stuff from Mommy Dearest’s wheelchair cart onto the counter. “Can you check us out? I guess I’ll just pay with my credit card.” You know, because you HAD TO CASH THAT CHECK!

Seriously. We sell scrubs at Wal-Mart. Anyone can claim to be a doctor. And if you seriously make $52,000 in one week, what the hell are you and your crippled mother doing shopping at the House of Wal?

Chalk another one up in the insane lunatic column at the House of Wal!