Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Painting the Roses Red

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Yet I continue to return to Walmart, day after day, supposing that at some point it will get better. It never will, and I'm certifiably insane.

Our Walmart is being converted from a regular Walmart to a "Super" Walmart. This has been an ongoing project for more than a year. It's gone from being a tiny store where they carry Walmart brand everything and nothing else, to a gargantuan store that carries multiple choices in varying Walmart brands. You can choose between the Mainstays product or the Home Trends version but either way its generic cheap crap in a shrink wrapped package; a box would cut into their profit margin. The only thing I can think of to say in their defense is that returns are relatively pain free there, if you can live through several days in line to get to the return counter.

During the remodel, the entire store shuffles on a daily basis. You will find automotive supplies right next to the yarn one day, and intermixed with the pet food the next. To make what would be a very user-friendly experience even better, throw in a hundred or so customers who are similarly irritated by the nail polish and the nail polish remover being in two completely different areas of the store. When you first walk in the door, the greeter who used to be a friendly, elderly gentleman named Howard has been replaced by mullet chick wearing a Dawg the Bounty Hunter T-shirt who grunts "Welcome to Walmart, hold on to your purse." I'm not sure if the remodel has included stationing purse snatchers throughout the store, or whether she's a disgruntled employee trying to warn customers that Walmart's primary goal is to rip people off. I think they should get Howard back, and when you walk in the door he could say, "Welcome to Walmart" and hand you an updated map and a Valium.

Part of the appeal to our community of having a Super Walmart is the mass of entry level, minimum wage jobs that would materialize. A friend of mine applied for a job there after high school. He didn't pass their computer pre-screening system and was never called for an interview. Instead he went on to earn 3 graduate degrees and is a well known professional in his field. He wasn't good enough to work for Walmart, but he now makes enough mint that grocery store priced paper towels don't even phase him, so he doesn't have to endure the shoddy service at Wally's. Some people do actually pass the computer screenings, take Cody for example, who passed the online personality test and landed a job working in the paint department. On Saturday, I waited in line in the paint department for 45 minutes waiting for someone to mix a custom color. No one was stationed in paint, because Cody failed to show up to work. My color was finally mixed by the associate from Automotive. Cody finally came stumbling in, (presumably once his hangover lifted) and assumed his post. His coworker made a snide remark, but the nearby manager didn't bat an eye or comment about his punctuality. After all, its difficult to find employees who can pass the tard screening and be hired. While we waited for our paint, we wandered around the store and ended up buying a lava lamp. We got it home, and it doesn't work.

Today I had to go back to return the lava lamp and to buy more paint, this time a premixed "White" latex Semi-Gloss mildew resistant paint. Our friend Cody was at work, but I knew right where to go for what I needed so I went ahead and helped myself. On the shelf in front of me was White Latex Eggshell, White Latex High Gloss, White Latex Satin, Bright White Latex Semi Gloss, Cashmere White Latex Semi-Gloss...but no regular White Latex Semi Gloss. Finally I found it, in the back corner on a high shelf, in a quart size container. The price per gallon is $19.97. (Funny, the last gallon I bought was 14.93...it's amazing how those prices keep rolling back.) The price per quart is 10.98. I'm sure Cody didn't realize that to buy it that way it would cost more than twice as much, he still had a good three hours before his pre-work joint wears off. The conversation went like this:

Excuse me, I need this paint in the gallon size, and there is none on the shelf.

Uhhh...I guess that means we must be out of it.

Ok...could you check and see if there would be more in the back? It's a pretty normal thing that you guys stock all the time.

We probably do have some in the back. But I can't get it for you.

Uh huh. Can someone else get it for me?

No. Its blocked off with junk from the remodel. We will put it out in a few days.

Well then, I want to buy the quart packaged paint at the gallon price.

I don't think you can do that.

In that case, I would like to talk to someone who would know if I can do that.

Um, you mean like a manager or something?

Or something...

Cody is amazingly able to work a telephone and calls requesting a manager. 45 minutes later Cody says he will be "right back" and disappears. Assistant Manager Jerry finally shows up.

Hi, I need this paint in a gallon size.

Jerry checks the shelf, and declares that they must be out of it.

OK.... Jerry having attended a 3 hour management training course realizes out that he can mix color into the Bright White base to obtain a regular white. "The formula is in this book right here." Great, lets do that then. Jerry mixes my paint for me. Just as I'm about to leave, Cody returns, appearing visibly relaxed.

Jerry: Hey Cody, has anyone shown you this book? It has formulas for any color including white.

Cody: Yeah, but I don't care about that, I like to use the computerized system.

Jerry: The computerized system is nice, except in circumstances when you need to see an actual formula in front of you.

Cody: Whatever, man.

Jerry: You are such a great employee Cody. I wish all the guys on my crew were are with it as you are. It's so hard to find good people. You wouldn't believe how many weirdos the computer screens out!


MommyK said...

What a riot. I shop there too because the grocery store charges 3 times or more what Walmart does, but I loathe going there. The people there are always really really great, or really really awful. And the parking lot gives me rage.

mary said...

I think those personality screening tests are crap. I spent all day yesterday filling out online job applications, and the mojority of them had those little annoying tests. The most annoying thing about them are that the split it up into separate pages, so I have to wait for the next page to load 37 times.

Luckily, Walmart is in Lebanon, not Albany or Corvallis, so I won't even waste my time applying there.

James made the comment that he has never seen an attractive person working at Wally World. Yeah, he makes fun of it all the time.

mumple said...


Walmart--and experience second to none!

I could go on and on about various Wally World adventures, but suffice it to say that, if you're smart enough to ace the application screening, you're too smart to work there.

An Ordinary Mom said...

Amazing. It is a good thing our Wal-Mart is too far away for me to shop at ... it drives me bonkers. I prefer the Target down the street.

Anna Maria Junus said...

So Cody didn't get sucked up into the vortex.


Well, I guess that's good news.