The Wal-Mart Story.
Yes, that's right - The Wal-Mart Story !!!
The Wal-Mart Story.
Yes, that's right - The Wal-Mart Story !!!
This story originally appears at www.mentallyincontinent.com
It's not A Wal-Mart story... it is THE Wal-Mart story. A tale so sordid, so epic, that it is the only thing I can think of to write about tonight.
I was in my first year of college at the time and was working for Roadway Package Systems on the overnight shift. RPS was a cheap knockoff of Federal Express or UPS, only without all the customers and apparently safety regulations, as we had at least 15 employees out on workers’ comp at any given time. What THEY were doing when they got hurt, I’ll never know, because all I ever saw anyone do was basically sit around and move a few boxes here and there to create the illusion that we deserved our $7.00 an hour. My job function consisted mostly of breaking open the occasional Nerf shipment and “playtesting” the toys all night. Sure, that stuff was meant for someone else, but the company’s insurance would cover it. It was free Nerf as far as I was concerned.
I decided to “quit” RPS one night (and by "quit", I mean to say that I physically demeaned the 5' 2" late night security guard by rubbing his head and calling him "cutie". This was met rather quickly by the blunt end of his Mag-Lite and a veritable honor guard of an escort out of the building), and since I had just lost my scholarship to college due to sleeping in class all day - because of late night work, oddly enough - and still had the futile intention to graduate, I was desperate for a late-night solution to my funds-to-expenditure ratio problem. I had to do SOMETHING for money. I thought about whoring my body out to dirty old men or selling hash made from yard grass and pencil shavings to high school kids, but I felt that as a future writer (haha, right), I needed, for once in my life, to indulge in something TRULY dark and evil... Something from which immeasurable pain and embarrassment would come, so that I could have an experience to draw upon for inspiration in the future. Naturally, Wal-Mart was the first thing that came to mind.
I heard about the position from a friend of mine who, at his request, shall remain nameless. He was working the early morning shift at the time. He explained that the electronics department needed a full time employee on the overnight shift because the last person who worked there was caught masturbating to a Cindy Crawford workout tape at 2 AM while the other employees were in the break room on "lunch".
I'm not kidding.
This story was quickly validated by the other employees on the shift the day I started. In all honesty, I felt kinda bad for the poor guy. He just felt an urge and decided to satisfy it, and I'm sure that it didn't occur to this dynamo of analytic thought that even though he was in the back corner of the department and it may have felt private and fairly secure, it still placed him square in the middle of a gigantic store chock full of security cameras (of which only 2 worked: one of the registers and the shoe department were under constant surveillence. The rest of the store, however, was shopliftland), customers and employees. Once the charges were filed and he was serving time for public exposure, I’m sure he learned his lesson and will never ever do it again.
I decided to give it a shot, so I showed up one Wednesday at 2:00 pm for the Wal-Mart pre-interview videocassette viewing. After that hearty 30 minute nap, I was huddled into a corner of the room with a manager to begin the actual interview. Believe it or not, the interview process for Wal-Mart was pretty goddamned thorough, especially considering the job paid 6 dollars an hour and entailed wearing a blue schmock, cleaning up after dullards and answering, for the 100th time in an hour, the exact same questions that should be common sense. I cannot count the number of times this exact exchange would take place on a given day:
Customer: “Excuse me, do you have a Toy Department?”
What I was thinking:
"What??? Do we have a TOY DEPARTMENT??? What the hell kind of question is that! This is WAL-MART, flapjack. The toy department is only the biggest department in this store! Does that extra chromosome impair your vision, too? Can you not see the gigantic blue and yellow sign hanging up when you walk in the door that says 'TOYS'?!?"
What I actually said: "Yeah, it's down there."
Anyway, after a 2 hour interview, a drug test, multiple calls to the references I listed and a 2 week waiting period, I was finally accepted into the ranks of the Sam Walton elite: I became Joe "The Overnight Electronics Department Employee" Peacock.
Oh sure, the title may SOUND all regal and exciting, but in reality, the job was a complete nightmare.
First off, you absolutely must understand one crucial fact about life - and this fact will remain constant forever: NO ONE NORMAL works the overnight shift ANYWHERE. This is ESPECIALLY evident at Wal-Mart, where not only are you working overnight in a gigantic wasteland of a career path, you are doing so along side people who clean department store floors and stock Liquid Dawn dish soap and various salty Golden Flake snacks on shelves 8 hours a night for a living. IN GEORGIA. These people weren’t exactly what one would consider to be members of the conversational elite. I would have believed that these people were only a protein strand away from being considered single-celled beings, except that it definitely takes more than one cell to produce the smells that eminated from most of them.
Add to this conglomeration of educationally inept rednecks the fact that they actually had quite an elaborate social structure built into their little group, one that did NOT readily include people who pronounce the word "green" with only one syllable or have, at any point in their lives, read so much as the advertisement on a book of matches.
It turned out that the overnight shift at Wal-Mart wasn't a very stimulating work experience.
My first few weeks were rife with frustration, the likes of which I had never experienced before and honestly haven’t experienced since. Because I was the new kid, and because I just did NOT belong in their little social structure, I ended up the victim of several "funny" little pranks. I was told that the electronics person on overnight had to cover for the pet department, which was on the opposite end of the store. I was also informed that during my down time I was to pitch in and help other departments stock their wares. It was common for the first few weeks to find me putting away stock that wasn't in my department, meanwhile being paged back to my department every 10 minutes for customers who, according to the paging person, had mysteriously "just left". Between stocking bars of Ivory, running to my department every 10 minutes for phantom customers, and jogging over to the pets department to scoop fish for people who had no intention of actually purchasing them, I was pretty worn out every day when my shift ended. It was about a month before I found out that neither the Ivory nor the fish were my responsibility, and that since my department was home to some of the most expensive and easily shoplift-able items in the store, leaving my department was actually a HUGE no-no. For all of my hard work and willingness to “pitch in” around the various departments, I received a big fat "Needs Improvement" on my 1 month probationary report - which, oddly enough, only bothered me because of the idea that Wal-Mart actually had 1-month probationary reports for people doing such mundane tasks.
Once I learned the truth about my “extra duties” and subsequently told those who asked me to do them to “fuck themselves”, things kind of leveled out and became actually quite simple for me. My daily routine eventually ran as follows: I would arrive at the store about 10 pm, help the 3rd shift person clean up, receive my stock about midnight, put it all away by 1:00, and kick back and watch the brand-new digital satellite tv network that had just come out, or some of the latest in this new movie technology called "DVD" while doing my homework until 6 AM, when I left the store for class. I was becoming quite happy with my routine, despite the fact that I was surrounded by undereducated redneck mollusks who, while I was watching movies and the brand new MTV2 network, were busy stocking detergent and mops that they, just a few months prior, had a gullible and eager-to-please college kid do for them while they sat in the back room and turned the walls yellow with their 3 pack-a-day tobacco habit.
This is when things started going downhill.
As time progressed, my manager started noticing discrepancies on my inventory reports every morning. Every night when I took over the shift, I had a little note that reminded me to check the battery count again or verify that the film count matched up with the printout, because the rack was off by 1. I would count and count again, and the counts would match exactly with the ones on the little inventory printout I had just received from our handy dandy computer terminal. It baffled me, why this man would keep insisting that I verify counts on the inventory he had apparently counted just that morning, but I didn't really pay much attention to it. I didn’t spend too many cycles wondering why the almighty computer system at a discount department store was screwing up numbers. I figured “It’s one goddamn roll of film in one Wal-Mart. It costs four bucks. Our profit last year was in the tens of millions. Sam WILL get over this.”
But this was not a problem that faded away easily. More and more inventory began disappearing overnight from my department with no apparent cause. Over time, a roll of film or a pack of batteries turned into several rolls or packs, which then graduated to video games, printer cartridges, and eventually a television. It truly made no sense to me, but every single evening I would get increasingly terse notes that stated that certain areas of our inventory were experiencing unaccounted for reductions. I would watch the department like a hawk: Not a single customer made it in and out of the department on my shift without my eyes glued directly to them, and I never ONCE saw any of them scanning the area nervously while shoving a television in thier knickers. The morning shift employee arrived at 5:30 AM for register count and shift change, So the theft couldn’t be taking place between our shifts. The disappearances were absolutely not happening. Nonetheless, inventory was apparently vanishing from the shelves every morning and reappearing every evening when I started my shift. One morning, I was confronted by the overnight manager about this situation. I, of course, was completely mystified and had no clue what exactly was taking place. I walked over to the offending aisle of printer cartridges and demonstrated for him that the count matched EXACTLY with what was on his new morning printou… hmm. That’s odd. It actually WAS off by one. No one had even come into my department that evening. There was no way possible that any of the inventory could have left the department that evening. Something, somewhere, stunk. Badly.
After a day or 2 of asking around on the overnight shift, the morning manager, not surprisingly, received absolutely horrible reviews of my performance from the other employees. The part that really fried my turkey was the fact that the overnight manager, Darius, supported the claims of the overnight staff that not only was I lazy but I was also pilfering the stock for personal gain. I was FURIOUS! I did my job and I did it well! I mean, come on... How can one suck at watching free satellite TV?Many times an evening he would stop by and tell me so. Why, all of a sudden, would he confirm such manure by these losers? I explained my case - nay, pleaded - to the morning manger, to no avail.
Unfortunately, when an entire overnight shift at a Wal-Mart hates you and their opinions get confirmation from the shift manager, anything you say to anyone who isn’t there to see the comedy of errors take place just is NOT going to believe you.
Which leads to a deeper, darker secret than working at Wal-Mart: I, Joe The Peacock, was actually FIRED from Wal-Mart. I would say only a retard could get fired from Wal-Mart, but this isn’t true: even the door greeter with Down’s Syndrome who once bit a female customer’s inner left thigh and refused to let go was still employed. I was completely mortified.
I visited the store the following week to pick up my final paycheck, where I met up that nameless friend from wayyyy up there in the beginning, the one who initially tipped me off about the opening in the first place. He had heard all the rumors and gossip, and fortunately he was pretty tight with a few of the overnight employees. Conversation naturally ensued and I discovered that, in an attempt to frame me for theft, some of those magnificent meat-heads were using the inventory gun to go in and scan items, then increasing the inventory by 1 in the computer every morning for the morning printout so that it looked like we had unaccounted for shrinkage in inventory. Pretty crafty, I must say, especially since at that time the inventory system didn’t record what time a change was made if it had been manually entered. It only paid attention when things were scanned in from the truck or scanned out at the register and went out the door.
The worst part of the entire conversation came when it was revealed that the overnight manager, Darius, who works at the Morrow Wal-Mart, was actually in on the whole scam as well (I only mention his name for literary effect. I would never encourage anyone to take this information and look up the phone number for the Morrow Wal-Mart and call to tell that shithead how much he sucks).
The only validation of my personal character came when I asked him what I had done to piss them off so badly. He replied: “Dude, you didn’t do anything. These are simple people who are not worthy of your hatred. You don’t belong in a job like Wal-Mart. Everyone knows it. One day, you will become a famous writer and amass a huge following. People will adore you and look at you as an influence for themselves and their children. Statues will be erected in your honor. A car will be named after you. You will eventually evolve into pure energy and understand the true nature of God."
He really did say that. Honestly. No kidding. You could ask him yourself, but since he DID ask me not to reveal his identity, I can't give out his name, so you can't ask him. He can never ever deny that he said any of these things. My word is law. Disbelieve at your own peril.
Truly, hearing all of this stuff about the conspiracy made me a bit angry.
Naturally, when anger is involved, revenge is not very far behind. At least, in my world it's not.
I truly felt that a company who would engage in these nefarious practices deserved some heavy duty payback. After our conversation, I went home to plot out one of the most glorious plans for revenge ever conceived - well, maybe not ever conceived by, like, everyone.. but definitely the most glorious ever conceived by ME.
I need to make it absolutely clear that for legal reasons, neither Joe Peacock nor Mentally Incontinent can recommend that anyone ever reenact the following descriptions of my actions If anyone chooses to take it upon themselves to reenact the following plan, we cannot be held liable for the outcome. (We do, however, heartily endorse them if you do them. We won’t accept responsibility for your actions, but we WILL send you some awesome greeting cards and pat you on the back once you are released from jail.)
The day after Thanksgiving is notorious for being the single busiest shopping day of the entire year. Naturally, every single Wal-Mart store in the nation is completely swamped with parents hoping to find great deals on stupid toys that their children will completely destroy within 4 minutes of opening the package. This fact does not stop them from coming in DROVES to hand over their hard earned money for the cheaply made knickknacks. Knowing this, I set upon planning the ultimate revenge which would take place on that infamous day.
Being the guy who set up just about everything in that department for almost 7 months, A few small advantages were mine and mine alone. For instance, I was the only one who knew the lock out codes for the DirecTV system, which was located in the demo cabinet that was actually a floor model of an entertainment center we sold in the furniture department. Along with the DirecTV system was the demo DVD player (which happened to play Video CD’s that could be made on a personal computer, should one feel so inclined) and demo VCR. Incidentally, I was the only employee that even knew that there were keys for that cabinet because one evening I opened the cabinent to find keys hanging from a staple on the inside of the unit. I grabbed them and put them on my keyring, figuring that since I was pretty much the only person here capable of reading the labels on the buttons and therefore was the only one who would ever access the cabinet that they would come in handy. We never ever locked the cabinet, so i quickly forgot the keys even existed. Very conveniently, I happen to accidentally keep those keys after I left the company (the only copy of those keys, actually, which adds to the overall humor). I also happened to be the only one with all the CMOS and screensaver passwords to all the demo PC's in the department. My major advantage was the knowledge that, while there were 2 department phones present on the counters near the registers, there was actually a 3rd line that was active but unused under the main CD rack in the center of the department.
Thanksgiving night, the store closed from 4:00 pm until 12:00 am. At 12:01 am, I entered the store and began working on my plan. The morning manager never got around to filling my position, and 80% of the workforce had the night off for the holiday, so the store was literally my playground.
First, I glided over to the demo machine cabinet and verified that it was unlocked, It was, just as I figured It would be, since I was the only one with keys. I immediately attacked the DirecTV system, locking out every channel except for “The Hot Network”, a hardcore pornography channel which I then ordered a full day of programming for. While in the cabinet, I inserted a special Video CD I had burned that afternoon especially for this occasion into the demo DVD unit, then I put a special VHS tape I made into the VCR. I turned off all the units so that the screens for the televisions would just show black. I then locked the demo cabinet up and stole all the remotes for the systems from the front drawer. After that, I turned up the volume on every single TV to Max. I moved on over to the PCs and changed a few settings on all of them, then rebooted them to lock the passwords in. Finally, I took a cordless telephone from the department and plugged it into the aforementioned vacant store phone jack, hiding the base of the unit with boxes of inventory. I ran over to the pharmacy section to plug in the remote charger and phone receiver so that it would be fully charged for the next morning. Everything in place, I left the store with a gigantic smile on my face.
Naturally, the store was FLOODED starting at 6:00 am that morning, the time at which all the special sales were to begin. The traffic in and out of the store was absolutely astounding. There were lines specifically to wait for a place in line for the registers. Around 11:00 am, I showed up and easily breezed through the store. Due to the volume of customers in the store, I blended right in. Not a single person there recognized me at all. I went over to my rigged electronics department to do a final survey of the area. All the televisions were on, screens black, a small message at the bottom of the screen said “signal unavailable”. All of the demo PC’s had rolled over to their screensavers, which scrolled in blue text on a red background "I AM A LUCKY COMPUTER! TAKE ME HOME!". Moving the mouse or using the keyboard would not disable the screensaver since it had a password. Everything looked ready.
I ran over to my secret hiding area in the pharmacy, the only department not completely ravished by the holiday shopping crowd, and pulled out the cordless phone. I tested it, it worked.. I entered the code for an overhead page and blew into the receiver a few times. Lo and behold, my little puffs were clearly audible over the intercom.
It was time for the festivities to begin.
Using the paging system I had just hijacked, I announced in a clear and resounding tone: "Greetings, Wal-Mart holiday shoppers! Thank you so much for coming out this wonderful day to take advantage of our special deals! One of our unadvertised specials is taking place RIGHT NOW! For the next 30 minutes in the electronic department, if you see a computer with a message scrolling across that says ""I AM A LUCKY COMPUTER! TAKE ME HOME!", that computer's model is 70% off the already low sale price! These computers are first come, first serve, so hurry to the electronics department and as always, thank you for shopping Wal-Mart."
The flood gates opened.
I made my way along with hordes of bargain hunters to the electronics department to witness the lucky shoppers search for the computer models that were "on sale". Astounding! Every single machine had a demo model which scrolled the magic phrase! Wal-Mart's policy is to honor any advertised price, and in-store announcements certainly qualified as an advertisement, so this would naturally put a gigantic dent in their normal operational activity. But my actual intention was not to screw Wal-Mart on the price of their crappy Acer and Packard Bell computers; it was to build an audience for the actual revenge.
As the department reached a capacity bordering on critical, I pulled out my stolen remotes for the demo units and turned all 3 of them on. Immediately, the top row of televisions, at full volume, flipped to images from the DirecTV system which was locked on hardcore pornography, the middle tier of televisions were showing images from the VCR which contained a movie cleverly entitled "Where The Boys Aren't Volume 12 - Sorority Sleep Over", and the bottom row of televisions were playing footage from the DVD system which contained a Video CD chock full of downloaded German “Scheiße” films from various newsgroups across Usenet (if you don’t know what ‘Scheiße’ means, it's probably for the best!).
There is absolutely no way I can describe the resulting chaos better than you are probably imagining it, so I will leave it alone, mentioning only that I barely managed to crawl out of the store because I was doubled over from laughter.
What a happy holiday season I had that year.
I heard later from my nameless friend that the store had to honor the “advertised” sale on all of the computers and that the television “wall o’ filth” actually played at full volume for the better part of an hour, as the department was so packed with spectators that employees could barely move through to the demo cabinet, which they obsessed over unlocking instead of simply turning off the televisions. Overall, the panic and unrest went on for longer than 6 hours. He continued working there, and about 6 months after that glorious and most holy event, he told me that they still hadn’t figured out how I had hijacked the paging system. I have been tempted to pull the entire stunt once again, but in my efforts to leave the store, I neglected to take the charger for the phone with me, and the battery has long since died.
The best part of it all: They accidentally paid me for another 2 weeks after I had been fired. A few weeks after mailing me the check for the work I didn’t actually ever clock in for, they sent a letter explaining that this was an error in the payroll system and requested that I send the money back.
I wrote the word ‘Scheiße’ with a chocolate bar on the letter and mailed it back, wondering if they would get the joke. I then put the money into a tech-heavy stock portfolio which about a year ago lost every cent that it made for me.