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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Penultimate Wal-Mart Experience

Today was a typical Tuesday. Fairly slow. Spent some time training the new girl. She seems fairly smart, once you get past the 19-year-old cute-girl put-on. There didn't seem to be much work to do until I was alone, which is when I found a box of sunglasses that needed to go up. So I got them up on the towers.

You know what? I'm not going to have to do that again after Friday! Sweet!

So by five till ten, I was ready to go. I had locked the keys in the safe, the counters cleaned, and the department well zoned (straightened up, with everything in place). At three minutes until ten, I was getting ready to push a cart full of stuff out of there, when a lady came up to me and asked if I could change a watch battery and show her a couple of rings.

I should have told her it was closing time. Shoulda, coulda, woulda.

I told her that it was three minutes until closing time (true), and that I couldn't show her a ring because the keys were locked in the safe (true), but I'd be happy to change her watch battery (not exactly true).

My mock happiness quickly changed into disgust. The watch had been running slow when she brought it in, but it was running. I checked, and the battery was running a bit low, but it should have made the watch work. But you never know with analog watches. They sometimes slow down before the battery dies. I put in a new battery, and the second hand started moving. I put the back on the watch, and it had stopped. It's already past ten, and I'm really, really, ready to go home by this point, and this is without the benefit of knowing how the next thirty minutes would pass.

I opened the watch again, figuring that the battery had wiggled loose. I taped it in place, and put it back together. Still not working. Back off again, and worked both the old and new batteries around. No luck. Dead watch.

I felt like she had brought in a patient coughing up blood, I had tried CPR, and killed him.

She was not happy. She was very polite about it, but insistent that she should get a discount on a new watch. And she still wanted to see those rings, too. So I should get a manager to come open the safe.

So I did. Assistant Manager Carmen authorized me to give a 15% discount on a new watch, and bumped it up to 20% when the woman whined a bit. The woman then went through the painful (to me) process of picking out a new watch. Her teenage daughter was just as annoyed with this as I was, but was making no effort to hide it. The three- or four- year old girl in her shopping cart was even less restrained at hiding her displeasure.

The woman eventually settled on a watch that she wasn't really happy with, but she needed a watch, and there were major medical expenses in the family, and couldn't I make it 50% off? I offered to get Carmen back, and she stopped pushing. It was a Twist-o-flex band, the metal kind that stretch. You may not be aware of this, but it is possible to remove links from bands like this. It is a neat little trick that is not one bit intuitive. It took me about three minutes to get her band shortened, and my prayers were answered when she accepted it with just one link out.

Then we looked at rings for a few minutes. She spent nothing more but time, which would have been just fine if she hadn't been spending my time as well. That was the most tempting moment of my Wal-Mart career to just lock up and leave and to heck with the consequences. As I said before, she was polite enough, but I had told her 25 minutes previously that I was supposed to close in three minutes. Did she figure that all I was going to do was go out and party? Or that I effing enjoyed being at the Wal-Mart jewelry counter long after my time to go home?

Of course, what it comes down to is that she didn't really care what I thought or felt. As far as she was concerned, I had no more say in my function than a shelf or a cash register. And that is the most annoying thing about working at Wal-Mart. Corporate Management is fond of saying that associates are their greatest assets, but they do little to back up that idea when the customer is always right, even when he or she is a total jerk.

I am sure that as a teacher there will be times when I am unappreciated, mistreated by management, and perhaps shot at. But I will be doing something important, and I will know that, even if my wife is the only one who ever reminds me. Or even if she doesn't. I won't be simply adding value to the Wal-Mart corporation and staying out late five nights a week.

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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.