Saturday, February 16, 2013

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.

No comments: