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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wal-Mart Lingo and Courtesy

The jewelry dept. just started two new people, one from another part of the store, and one from a Wal-Mart in Michigan. Sounds like the biggest difference is that it's colder there. Having two newcomers left me with both of them over the weekend. Long weekend.

Then last night I was alone. It was mostly a good night, as Tuesdays at Wal-Mart are nothing to write home about. Not many customers, so I got a lot of costume jewelry stuff done. On my way out of the store afterwards I told this story to my coworker, Gabe:

The person filling in while I had my lunch asked if I could wait until 8 p.m., so I said sure, why not? It hadn't occurred to me that I had clocked in at 1:00. Just a few minutes before eight, a couple came in and wanted to cancel their layaway. They had chosen a ring some time ago, and in the mean time had found something they liked better. I typed my ID and password into the register, but it booted me out because I needed a break. I called over a C.S.M., and he signed in for me, then I tried to cancel the layaway. It needed approval from a C.S.M., and he told me that he couldn't do it, because he was logged onto the register, so we logged him off, got another guy with register numbers over to sign in. He was signed in to another register, so the C.S.M. approved him to sign in on two different registers, I canceled the layaway, and the C.S.M. approved the cancellation. A few minutes later someone came over to cover my lunch, and I gratefully left. Gabe's response was that the C.S.M. probably could have approved the operation if he had tried.

If you managed to make it through that paragraph without falling asleep, I'll be surprised. To most of you, it probably made little or no sense, so here is the short version:

I worked too long without a lunch break, so something simple that usually takes just me less than a minute to do took three people more than five minutes to do.

It's not a particularly entertaining story, but it highlights an interesting effect that I suppose is true for most jobs: if you stay long enough, you learn enough stuff for a new language. As I pointed out to Gabe after telling this story, it is a story that requires some serious background knowledge. You would have to know about working retail, and there are some bits that are pretty Wal-Mart specific. It added flavor knowing exactly who the C.S.M. was, and the fact that Gabe also tends to get worked into his break times.

Anyway, not much insight here, really.

I did get accused of stealing someone's watch Saturday. That was kind of fun. I had changed a woman's watch battery, and she came back five minutes later asking why we hadn't given her back her friend's watch. I was pretty sure I had given it to her friend, and I said so. She demanded that we look for it, so we did. (This was my former Michigan coworker, Carrie. Nice intro to Kansas, huh.) While supervising our search, she asked to use the phone to call her friend and double check. So I dialed the call for her. Soon she found that I was not, in fact, a thief, as her friend had the watch. So she said thank you (presumably for letting her use the phone), and left. No apology.

The sad thing is this: I wasn't really surprised, and hardly cared enough to be offended. This kind of thing doesn't happen all the time, but it does happen often enough that I've become a bit callused to it. And in my world view, some people take out their bad days on others because that's just what they're used to doing. It's not a good thing, or a right thing, it just is. It's up to me to decide how to deal with it; I can be polite and kind, or I can take it as a personal insult.

My coworker Julianna just left the jewelry department to work overnight in the cash office. She had trouble not taking impoliteness personally, and the job was really getting her down. I don't mean that as a criticism of her. Her situation is quite different from mine, in that she has had a job she liked in the field she majored in (Art History), but is now unable to find a job like that. She's been job hunting for three years now, six months of that during her previous job. If I had been given reason to believe that I might never escape Wal-Mart, I might have more trouble dealing with difficulties there. But my employment situation is looking good.

More in another post.

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A Brief Introduction

Roblog is my writing lab. It is my goal to not let seven days pass without a new post. I welcome your criticism, as I cannot improve on my own.

Here is a link to my cung post, which remains the only word which I have ever invented, and which has not, as far as I know, caught on. Yet.