Changes in the Workplace

I just got back from where dreams die..aka Walmart, because someone asked me to go there for something. Lots of empty shelves and coolers…I was wondering if there was a storm situation coming that I was unaware of. Ran into a daily shopper from my store who questioned why I was there…I had the same question. Unfortunately I was behind her in the check out line where she was not too gentle with the checker about why the shelves were empty. I tried to side with the checker as the customer tried to drag me into the conversation. This was a slippery slope because in her eyes I was still associated with my store even though I was not there. I still represent.

The checker was growing frustrated, but kept her cool trying to explain that there had been a lot of traffic at the store starting with EAA, the Pathfinders, back to school and college dorm runs. The customer kept it up and then complained about the curbside grocery pickup now available and how those pickers in the store were in her way and how were they finding products when there were such gaps. She also wanted them to shop for that service at night so she wouldn’t have to see them. I too have been annoyed at the people doing shopping for curbside pickup as many don’t use any words before they butt in front of someone or nearly run me over although I am sure they are on some sort of crunch….still, there is always time for courtesy. The checker told her how that was now the biggest part of their business and how they were the #1 store in the country in those sales when the Pathfinders were in town. Someone had a 5K pickup!!! I said that I had yet to use that service and was really considering it for any future stops especially now that I was being expected to weigh in on this convo. The customer continued with her irritation that she would now have to go to another store for other things they didn’t have at Walmart today. I was thinking of the same thing. Milk in half gallons? Not for me today.

I had waited by a back employee access door to catch someone to see if there was milk in the back somewhere. I get the back thing. Customers always think we are stashing things in the back at our store, but it’s white milk milk I want, not specialty milk milk….at a grocery store….at Walmart. I snagged a guy who was there as a distributor and he was nice enough to find me a store employee. Some Luke guy comes out, didn’t believe that I couldn’t find it and asked me 9 times what I wanted. 2% milk in half gallons is really hard to remember. As he was about to approach the cooler a co-worker walked up where they engaged in all the facts about her FMLA, when she was coming back, how much her boyfriend wanted to have her like walking in the outdoors and how much she didn’t want to walk in nature, what her plans were. I cleared my throat and they kept chatting. I took a small step forward. All I got was a look like I was getting in the way of their convo. They finally finished their wag and he returned to looking in the empty area where milk should be. He waved his hand all in the area as if to reach the non-existent. He said he would go look in the back. Gee thanks. He returned to report that there was no milk in that volume. Awesome. Thanks Luke. You are not a stellar employee and don’t try to get a job where I work although you won’t because starting pay is way more than what I get now even after 7 years. Things are not equal.

Back at the checkout that checker finally held up her name badge with her title on it. “See that?”she says to the customer ahead of me. I am the assistant manager of the women’s clothing department and here I am checking. We need all hands on deck because there are not enough workers to fill all the jobs we have.” I added, “You are doing the best you can.” The customer said to the checker, “You need to do better.”

I thought of both of those employee encounters at the same place and see such differences. One doesn’t care, the other can’t do anything about those that don’t care and still has to deal with customers that are disgruntled about something she can’t fix.

I was telling Rick about this and he responded that it is the same where he works. Frequently a new employee will begin and leave for good at break time or not return the next day. Then my husband and lots of his friends give the full measure. One of our favorite stories is how a guy named Jesus, was working and went out on a smoke break and never returned. I didn’t even know Jesus smoked.

We recently watched the Netflix documentary, “American Factory”. I think it was an even handed take on workers and corporations. I am wondering if there was always such a large volume of people who are not willing to do their best and expect so much or employees who are doing their best and expect enough