I started there as a 'cart-pusher', officially known as a Courtesy Associate. They pay cart-pushers the impressive salary of minimum wage. I had to return carts to the building from the parking lot, help with 'carry-outs' (usually swimming pools and trampolines), and other mundane tasks. The cart thing was the hardest. The job never ends, and can never be caught up. The store I worked at was big enough to warrant 3 of those electric cart pushing machines, and at least 4 people on duty at all times, but we had only one machine and one or two people on duty at most times. Then a customer backed into it and ruined it, so we had zero equipment. For 6 months, we pushed carts by hand up the steep parking lot, all day, every day, in the 100 degree heat, the pouring rain, the blizzards even. (By the way, you cannot stop and go inside because of rain. There must be lightning, and it has to be over the parking lot itself). I once had a job digging ditches by hand, and it wasn't as draining as this. The person in charge of the cart-pushers is any of the CSM's on duty (customer service managers). They are the ones who stand around up front and monitor the cashiers. Every hour, one or more of them comes outside to see if the lot looks good. It is never good enough of course. So we got yelled at hourly by the CSM's; sometimes by the higher managers also. The slackers were ignored and the workers were yelled at. This is an endemic problem to all depts. at Walmart actually.
Since they would not repair nor replace the machines, and they kept us seriously understaffed, we couldn't keep up. Every day around noon the cart corrals start filling up, and by 2-3 PM they were all running over. Then by 4 or 5 there were no carts inside the store, and customers complained profusely about having to exit the store and get one themselves from the lot. One day I was near a manager when he fielded a phone call from a customer about it. After hanging up he said, "I wish the customers would realize that we don't have to bring carts to them- it is just a courtesy!" When I was a door greeter later on, I had to listen to ongoing complaints from the customers about it. They didn't know that cart-pushers are treated like shit, have the hardest job in the store, had no equipment, and are understaffed.
Sometimes there would be no one at all scheduled to work all day, then 3 or more would come in later in the evening to a mess that would take 8 or more hours to clean up. No matter how hard we worked, it was futile. Sometimes we teamed up and pushed rows of 20, 30, 40, even 50 at once- just to get the job done- but sooner or later we got caught and they chewed us out for being 'unsafe', saying we might lose control and run the carts into a car. It is also against the rules there to utilize teamwork- you work alone or else! But pushing more than 5 at once is not steerable alone, and also not enough to keep up...All of our problems were directly traceable back to management's rules, harassment, and foot-dragging.
One day when it was literally 100 degrees out, a co-worker and I were working together to clear the lot faster. One of us would push a row of 40 carts while the other steered. We swapped off and after several trips had cleared a large area and stopped for a drink of water. They keep cooler jugs outdoors for us to 'stay hydrated'. So we were getting a drink of water. Then a manager comes out and chews our asses for standing around. When my coworker stated that we were 'hydrating', the manager got mad and told him to go to the office. He was surrounded by managers and CSM's, and yelled at like a bunch of adults ganging up on an unruly kid. He was so mad he put in his notice. I stayed longer though. In this time I witnessed many similar incidents of managers treating us like crap, as well as their ass kisser pawns the CSM's.
Besides the management harassment, we were in constant danger from crazy drivers in the lot. One of us was hit by an armored truck's mirror. We all had near-misses daily in the parking lot. Almost all people completely ignore the stop signs and the crosswalks. We became so aggravated we started yelling at these dangerous drivers, even flipping them off from time to time. We never got in trouble for it, and the store ignored our pleas for speed bumps. One day when I was crossing the crosswalk by the main entrance, someone stopped his car, and yelled at me, "You better watch it or I'll have you shot!". I blew up. I said, "What?!" He repeated, "I'll have you shot if you scratch my car, so watch where you're going!". To make a long story short, I got in his face and asked him to pull a gun so I could kick his ass. He didn't, but I found out later he is married to another employee there. I seen him almost daily after that waiting for his wife. I complained to management that he was bothering me. Security asked me all about it. They said that next time he looks at me, tell them so they can come observe his actions. Needless to say, (a term my English teachers said never to use, but it sure applies here), nothing was done and to this day he hangs out there a lot. This incident made us cart-pushers realize we were on our own, and one of them now packs a gun even. Managements' foot-dragging is bound to lead to a shooting there eventually.
After six months of pushing by hand, they finally got new machines. By this time I had developed tendonitis from all of the hand pushing of rows of heavy carts as well as the hand-turning of hundreds of them each morning. This was because of the night people placing the carts in the wrong area, and each morning hundreds of them had to be drug around to the rows they went in. Ongoing complaints about this problem netted no results. Walmart admitted to this causing my arm injury, and worker's comp covered it. I was receiving treatment for it from their approved doctors.
In the meantime I was placed on "restricted duties". I became the candy wall zoner, meaning I pulled up the candy on the racks there. Fun. Then I got to help the 'zone manager' with misc. tasks for awhile. I later helped a department manager mark down halloween clothes, luckily for her. I did not need a calculator to figure one-half and one-fourth like she did. Not exaggerating, by the way.
Later I was made into a 'people greeter'. I found that saying "Hi" to people was boring. I started pulling out carts and arranging them. I talked to customers that came in whenever I could. I washed the door glass. Before long I was informed that it is not my job to touch the carts, so I should stop messing with them. Soon after a drunk customer threw a fit because I did not pull out a cart for an old lady fast enough. He complained to the head manager of the store, and I was chewed for it, even though I was not supposed to touch the carts at all to begin with. I did get a cart out for her, but not fast enough to please the drunken redneck I guess. Can't win for losing.
Then one day I was informed by a CSM that I was wanted in the office. He watched the door while I went to this meeting. The previous summer I had called in one too many times, as the heat literally made me sick at times from the exhaustion and sunburn of working in a parking lot all day. I was written up for this in the fall by my manager. Now, the next summer, I am told that I am going to be written up for the same thing, for the same absences. Why? I inquired why I could be in trouble twice for the same thing. The manager- this time a different one- got mad and said, "So you think that I am doing something wrong here???!!" I replied, yes. She said to just enter my S.S. number on this screen. I said, "Will that be like signing my name to it?" "Yes". So I said, "I am not signing anything." Then we were going to discuss it with her manager, she told me. I was escorted to the store manager's office. He was busy- his door was closed. So I was told (not joking here) to clock out for lunch, come back from lunch in an hour, and then go sign the write up in front of the store manager, or, I was going to be fired. The store mgr. there never speaks to the lowly hourly employees unless it is to fire them- everyone in the store knows that. As any of the assistant or co-managers will tell you, "It's not his job to talk to the hourlies". So I was going to be fired for refusing to sign a write up- for something I had already been in trouble for months ago. Guess what- I did not return from lunch. Such was the end of my employment there. I learned later that the managers told everyone I had mysteriously walked out with no explanation in the middle of my shift. Liars.
Now the good part. While on worker's comp, I had an insurance agent calling me periodically to see how it was going. When I told him I no longer worked there, he said it didn't matter: the insurance company will pay for treatment until my arm is better. Next time I went to the doctor, the dr.'s office's "worker's comp. liaison" asked me if I still worked there. I told her no, but the other guy said it is alright. She left the room. Another woman came in, asked me where I worked. Same story to her, then she typed into a computer. Then the doctor came in, with the liaison woman. As he looked at it, he asked why I didn't work at Walmart any longer. I tried to succinctly explain. He then said he was releasing me from his care as he could do nothing else for me. These things never heal, he stated. The liaison bitch smiled, really. Doc walked out, then Liaison Bitch left, and that was that. The agent never called me again and I have no money for a lawyer. Handicapped by Walmart, screwed for life with no compensation. At least, I consider not being able to use my left arm a handicap. I can't write, do dishes, lift anything more than about 2 pounds, and it hurts off and on constantly. Every morning I wake up in pain.
That's Walmart for you- pain.
related post here
(c) james platt