Sunday, October 17, 2010
My Life as a Walmart Associate
Once I was back in Montana, I started looking around in earnest for a job. Of course I hated to get one because there was still so much to do around everyone's place before winter, but having no income sort of made it a necessity. I studied the help wanted ads, meanwhile putting in an application at Walmart, since I knew if nothing else worked, they would probably hire me.
As it turned out, I didn't get a chance to try for any other jobs because Walmart called me up almost immediately, called me in for an interview, and hired me on the spot. "Wow, Tina, you must have been a really special applicant for them to hire you so quickly!" Not really. My special qualifications were that I was breathing and I could move.
See, it's another lovely result of the oil boom. Working on the oil fields pays well. REALLY well. People are leaving their long-term jobs and going where they can make $10 to $15 an hour more, which creates a huge job vacuum. Everyone wants those high paying jobs at the same time that there are huge new population numbers that need to be served in restaurant, motels, gas stations, and of course, Walmart, the only large store of its type within 2 hours drive of Williston.
This Walmart is the top selling Walmart of its size--in the country--at the same time that it has the lowest employee #'s. Store executives want to know how this store does it...keeps operating costs so low and profits so high. I can tell them after working there for 2 and a half weeks. Sheer desperation!
As one of the cashiers (a surprising career choice for one so math challenged as I!) I am at the front lines during the day. Literally. The lines stretch 6-10 people deep most of the day, and these are mostly people, carts piled high with goodies, who shop like they come to Walmart once a month--because they do. Or it's oil workers coming in and buying 2 cart loads of bedding, socks, snacks, and drinks for the company. It is non-stop work all day as we watch the store merchandise flow through our registers and out the door.
Then, at last evening comes and it is time for me to go home. As I walk to the back to go clock out, I see the evening shift just coming on. Like a frantic troupe of magical gnomes they rush about trying to replace an unreal amount of stock before the flood-gates of customers begins pillaging the store the next morning. This happens EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
This particular Walmart gets a lot of complaints because of the empty shelves and long lines. I regularly hear comments from people in my line about how Walmart is too cheap to hire more cashiers and that's why the lines are so long. Au contraire! Walmart would LOVE to have more cashiers, indeed, I've felt a little bit like a rock star as a new hiree, but no one is applying. They'd love to have more stock on the shelves, but people don't realize that the magical gnomes can't keep up with how fast it flies off the shelves.
As for me, I love working there. I am getting a little better about making mistakes and needing help constantly, and I love the work. I am the airline stewardess on my customers' Walmart journey, and I try to make sure I meet their needs in a fast and friendly way. No one has been really mean yet, so I'm having a great time.
Oh, and one more WONDERFUL thing about my new job at Walmart. When I first hired on, I was thinking, "Oh dear, I'll be standing still all day. What a dull and lifeless job. I shall get quite pudgy." I couldn't have been more wrong. I am hauling mid-range weights (milk jugs, heavy cans, dog food, cases of water, flat-screen TV's, etc.) all day long, plus periods of quick stepping when I scan items in customers' carts or put their bags away. I am getting 8 hours of low-level exercise every day, and I am losing weight!!! Yeah! Instead of joining a gym, I am letting the gym pay me. Couldn't be better.More affordable housing, but this time in Montana. Note: If you read in Noni's blog about the fox that jumped over her, this is the house and the upper left-hand window is the one it jumped out of.