Sloppy Management, Still My Fault
In July of 2015, I was just fired from my first job. A week after, Wal-Mart called me and told me that they'd like to set up an interview and I was ecstatic. Nine dollars an hour! Man! Imagine all the useless crap I could buy! Anyway, I went to the interview, dressed head to toe in the nicest dress clothes I could manage, even puffed a few jets of cologne on my chest for good measure.
I arrived exactly ten minutes before my interview, discovering that there were two other young adults waiting their turns as well; they were dressed in baggy, stained clothes and smelled faintly of mustard and onions. No way I could be beat by these two, I thought. Well, an hour in a half passed and finally, I was called into the back room, the first of the three of us. Oh well, no big deal, I thought, must have been busy.
As I promptly sat down, stiffened my back and crossed my fingers I readied myself for the casual greetings and handshakes and the first question. The entire time, the manager did not look up at me as she said hello and asked the questions, I felt I must have intimidated her by staring too hard into her eyes and spoke with too much confidence, so I lightened my voice and put on a bit of a false setto (a false voice); still, she never looked at me. She asked me one question and it was, "Name a time you were tasked with a seemingly overwhelming situation, and overcame that obstacle?" Easy. I rehearsed this one numerous times. So I told her and she said "mmhmm" still uninterested in looking at me. So we said goodbye and I held my hand out, finally she looked at me half-assed, looking at something behind me apparently (there was nothing there). I walked out of that office with my heart in my stomach, I bombed it, I thought. So the next young man was invited to the back as I left, burying my shame beneath flushed cheeks and left the building to get therapeutic ice cream with my fiance (now my wife, whom also works at Wal-Mart).
Two weeks later, I received a call back from Wal-Mart saying, to my surprise, that I got the job and that orientation would be that following Friday. My ego was elated. Not a care in the world at that point! So, fast-forward, and I'm now at my orientation, or what I thought was going to be my orientation. Basically, the manager who had interviewed me hadn't set up my login information yet, apparently. So I had to wait, yet again, and numerous times was I told that my new orientation date would be "this Friday". This went on for a month (thankfully I hadn't moved out of my mom's house and had no bills to pay yet). I eventually chose to call them and ask about the situation with my login info. The manager had the audacity to tell me, and I quote,
"Well, if it's been a month and you haven't bothered to check on that, I'm beginning to think that you're not interested in the job."
"I'm beginning to think you're sort of an unqualified bi***" I replied (in my head).
The next week was spent watching training videos, nothing too exciting to report about this time.
Hi, Welcome to Harass-Mart!
I finally finished my videos, learning that I was to be a maintenance associate. Cleaning. Cool, I thought.
Anyway, the next four months went on about the same business, clean this, sweep that, scrub this-- etc. All of a sudden, I heard there were rumors going around about me doing hard drugs like crack or something can't really remember, I thought nothing of it, then my "sponsor" and "trainer" started getting really, really rude with me all of a sudden. But why? Everyone has been telling me that I'm the best maintenance associate they've had in a few years? Wait-- maybe that's why she's giving me crap? She feels threatened! Sometime during the four months I had been working there, one of my co-workers said that, if my trainer felt threatened, she would turn into a real "hoo-ha" if you know what I mean. Eventually, the maintenance department got a new associate, an older gentleman by the name of Timothy (we'll say) and things got sour with him really fast, considering my trainer told him that I was a good for nothing, lazy kid who sits in the bathroom all day. So, my mistake, I took a brief bathroom break to void my bowels and Timothy follows me in after I've undone my trousers and dropped them to the floor, and proceeds to stare at me through the crack in the stall. Next thing I know, I hear him laugh a sarcastic laugh, watch him shake his head, and storm out of the bathroom. I sigh and return to playing my phone while the last remnants of my dinner from the previous day, left my back side. As I emerged into the pale light of Wal-Mart, a manager by the name of Vance (we'll say) pulled me aside and directed me to the office where he proceeded to give me a "personal" talk.
"Alright, where have you been, Kyle?" Vance stated
"What do you mean?" I asked
"I mean we've been looking all over for you and we can't find you."
"Well, I mean, I was in the bathroom for a bit. Other than that, I've been all over the sto-"
"So you've been in the bathroom for three hours? Somebody told us you've been hiding."
"No, I was in the bathroom for ten minutes at most."
"How come the camera's haven't picked you up then?"
"I'm not sure I've been--"
"This is a warning. You need to start letting us know when you go anywhere else."
"Alright. Get back to work."
Cheeks flushed with shame again, I wandered out into the store and began questioning what Vance meant. Word from the grapevine eventually exposed the culprit of my dilemma to be Timothy and my trainer. I confronted Timothy and asked him why he told Vance what he did,
"Because it's about time you stop hiding all the damn time."
"Hiding all the damn time? Are you kidding? Who told you that crap?"
"Me and <Insert Trainer name> are onto you and you'll be outta here in no time."
Next I confronted my trainer and that conversation was about as good as talking to a brick wall, she acted oblivious and said that I need to leave her alone.
Eventually, I spoke with my manager, Monica (we'll say) and let her know that I felt like I was being harassed. She said she'd take care of it, but for two more months the harassment continued. Eventually, Timothy left for a much higher paying job dispatching some cars or something and it was left with me and the trainer to bump heads. She stopped being so shy with her harassments at that point, she started calling me, and I quote,
"F******* useless" "a waste of resources" "a rude punk"
She was proud to give me these titles too because she was telling everyone under the pale lights how she felt about me.
I confronted Monica about the harassment again and she said,
"Quit bringing this up. She's been with the company for ten years and have done so much for us. People are always trying to bring her down. I said I'll handle it."
A week later, Monica told me I'd be switched over to carts.
Transferring to Carts
One of the worst moments in my career with this company was the transferring process. By this time, I had been constantly bullied by my trainer and whoever else came to believe the poison she was spewing about me.
The process of transferring was not so rough, then again, it wasn't so hard to do anything in here. Still, I believe they drew names from hats for departments.
As soon as I stepped outside, I was greeted by our two cart pushers we had before me, one's name was Jon and the other was Warren. They were both heavier guys and notorious for being lazy. But, I kid you not, as soon as I stepped outside, Jon said hi and went to the "bathroom" for an hour and a half; during this time, Warren was on lunch. Instantly I was thrown into a storm of carts lining every row by the hundreds. (Two hundred customers an hour will do that). I had a hard time catching up and, my manager and one of the CSM's (the step below a manager) came and pulled me into the office again.
This time it was Victoria and Mary talking to me, and, they offered me to sit down.
"Kyle," Victoria said, "If you can't keep up with this job, we'll have to consider our options."
Lest we forget, this is my first day on carts and both of my co-workers left me with a massive mess to clean up on my own.
And that "sponsor"? Well, I do her front bathrooms now on occasion too and I also have to make her bales, I've even cleaned up a spill because she is nowhere to be found. Only recently have I discovered that she periodically disappears to various parts of the parking lot to take her usual half-an-hour smoke break (she does this four times in a seven hour period, still taking her two breaks and hour lunch on top of it).
The Ten Dollar "Raise"
Within a month of joining carts, the announcement was made that every associate would be making ten dollars an hour. Great! Fantastic! Or so I thought.
After the announcement was made, it was revealed that holiday pay was, essentially, taken away, benefits would be cut, part-time associates who have been with the company less than five years would also be losing paid time off, gaining an hour for every 28 hours worked. Also, the "three for one" call offs have been eliminated, meaning: instead of calling off three times in a row for one occurrence, it would be one occurrence per call off (which, in my opinion, is the most logical change made by the company).
Regarding the holiday pay situation, I recently discovered that we do get holiday pay, at the cost of our PTO or "Paid Time Off" which means, you not only lose your paid time off, if you are a newer associate, you'll be getting scraps compared to your previous holiday pay. Oh, and, they told us this option would be optional but my management turned around and did it for us. But unions are bad, right Wal-Mart?
A little off-topic, but I recently lost a relative of mine and my manager and personnel manager declined my bereavement and my FMLA and I missed, not only her last moments on this earth, but also her funeral. Who do I have to blame? A company who sees us as just numbers in their system, lightening their wallets of all their pocket change.
How Am I Suppose to Survive?
$10/hour means I'm making, at most, $9 after taxes. Wal-Mart fails to uphold their belief that associates can move around the store to find a career that better suits their needs. It's all about favoritism, not how good or how bad of a worker you are, and, often times, it is just the lucky draw from a hat. The $10/hour has made management cut my hours, my benefits, and my sanity, needless to say. Good 'ole Uncle Sam tells me I can't get food stamps because I'm married to somebody who makes just two dollars more than me, and that our net income is over that threshold. If Wal-Mart was to increase their worker's wages to fifteen dollars an hour, then the company would simply lose 5 billion of their 15 billion dollar profit.. let me say that again, their profit. Meaning money they can do what they want with. If the wealthiest family and company in the world can't survive off of a 10 billion dollar profit then there is something profoundly wrong here.
What's Our Solution?
We need to get in touch with a union rep, and band together. The only issue is that people are afraid of losing their jobs and, let me tell you, Wal-Mart or Sam's Club stores can't fire all of their staff.
We all have bills to pay.
We all have lives to live.
We all have a job to do.
We just need to be brave and stand strong. Go on strike if you have to, talk to union reps, organize your own union, do something. We can no longer stand by and let the CEO's of Wal-Mart stores run and ruin our lives any longer.
We need capable management.
We need more passionate associates.
We need to take a stand.
Kyle Atwood (author) on February 26, 2017:
Wal-Mart tries to make us believe that this dollar raise is enough, that it has somehow bankrupt the company and that the CEO's are distributing their immense wealth evenly among all workers, but there not and, chances are, they never will.
It's all a matter of banding together with other workers who feel this way, and trust me, there are plenty. Numbers beat brick and mortar and a company isn't a company without workers. It's time, not only Wal-Mart and affiliates, but every major corporation in the world, realizes that. This isn't a radical idea, it's logical and fair, if you ask me.
I am glad you enjoyed the story and I greatly appreciate your comment!
Mel Carriere from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on February 25, 2017:
Starting with Ronald Reagan we have been brainwashed to believe that Unions are bad, but don't worry, the profits of the rich will trickle down to you. Meanwhile, how much of that 15 billion has trickled your way?
Since Reagan, unions have lost their force. Your battle is one that was fought and won a century ago. Working people like us died in it. Now we have to fight it again.
I enjoyed reading your story and I hope your message resonates and spreads.