Well, thewritingonthewal.net asked for an interview back in December and we finally managed to work something out. I'm answering their five questions, and a select few from other readers.
1. If working at Wal-Mart is so taxing, why don’t you just quit?
Where else am I going to get material for the "Behind the Counter" book?
But seriously, I have what I refer to as my real job and my Wal-Mart job. I needed a second job that would schedule around my first job and still give me enough hours per week to make it worthwhile.
Despite my personal opinions about their products and practices, I don't hate Wal-Mart. The company has a lot of problems, but I would not continue to work there if I found it repugnant.
And after working at a McDonald's for one day (and one day only) during high school, I made a solemn vow never to do food service again. I'll sell my body on a street corner before I'll do that. Hmm. Fun and profitable.
2. Does management know how sarcastic you are? How often do the kind of comments you make on your blog slip out of your mouth?
Yea gods, no. I'm the model of decorum. Vest laundered. Plenty of pens. No open-toed shoes. Management knows I'm not stupid, and I have been asked more than once to consider interviewing for Wal-Mart's management training program - as if. I am very much an under-the-radar type at work and in real life.
My reputation inside the store is "the kooky funny one," if that tells you anything. I'm a bit less caustic in public though, you never know who is listening.
3. If someone started organizing a union at your store, would you join? Why or why not?
Unequivocally, yes. If nothing more for the fact that we had to watch a 90-minute anti-union video during orientation AND hear this whole "Wal-Mart is not anti-union, it is pro-associate" speech from at least three different people. Please. Whatever. I've got a brain. Organized labor would be real quick to do something about the scandalous health care benefits most Wal-Mart associates "enjoy." Note the sarcasm.
Organized labor has its faults. But just the fact that Wal-Mart is scared of it ought to let anyone know its value. Politically, I'm extremely liberal and I believe that organized labor is a powerful voice for workers to oppose the mega-corporations of today.
4. You don’t have much good to say about the products Wal-Mart sells. Does that mean you don’t make much use of the employee discount?
Not really. As I wrote in January to much controversy, I refuse to buy the food. I buy a few clothes there - T-shirts, socks and the basic No Boundaries polo shirts mostly. I bought my iPod there because it was stupid not to use my discount and get an extra ten percent off. Light bulbs, although I returned two packs the other day because all four blew the second I put them in. The only serious coin I drop at Wal-Mart is at our Vision Center. The style isn't much, but I got two pair of glasses for under $200. And prescriptions, because I'm there anyway. But no, I really don't buy the merchandise. Useless plastic crap.
5. Do you dream about Wal-Mart?
No. Although I do have nightmares. One in particular. Service Desk Register #91 is right on the end by the phone, which rings constantly because it's one of the outside lines into the store. And the Fitting Room operator just puts it on "Night Service" and leaves for her lunch from 11 a.m - noon. I don't know why -- it's not like we have time to answer it. So from 11 a.m. - noon, it just rings. And rings. And rings.
During my first Christmas at the Service Desk, I spent a ten-hour day on that one register with that phone ringing all day. All day. I came home and all I could hear was that phone. I tried to sleep and all I could hear was that phone. It was like it was vibrating in my bones.
To this day I have a very deep hatred of Register #91. I won't use it unless I absolutely have to and when the phone rings, I tense up inside.
6. Do you think you would miss Wal-Mart if you ever stopped working there?
Some days, I start driving across town and pray for a car accident. And I usually feel queasy once I actually walk in the building, although I've never determined if this is physical or psychological.
Yes and no. In contrast to my regular white-collar job, a great many of the people I've met at Wal-Mart are wonderful human beings. The people that come in to work every day at thousands of Wal-Mart stores across the nation are an untold, untapped and sadly unappreciated resource.
People are so happy to see me when I go in to work. They smile and hug me and ask me what's new. If I ever quit, I would really miss some of the friends I've made, even that Haitian woman that once threatened to put a voodoo curse on me.
I will not miss the sense of customer entitlement that seems to hit people as soon as they walk through the door of a Wal-Mart. It's like a drug that infects them when they grab a cart. "I'm at Wal-Mart. I can act like a fool."
I won't miss the management, especially the ones that sit around in the back room and drink coffee and holler into the radio all day and won't come to the front even when the store is a mess. Really, I've known several outstanding people who happened to be assistant managers at my store. None of them are still with Wal-Mart. I'm really glad they all got out.
Coming tomorrow, my thoughts on the new computerized scheduling system!