Never Work The Night Shift At Wal-Mart
One time, out of pure desperation, I took a night-shift job at Wal-Mart on the overnight floor cleaning crew — a decision I have regretted every day of my life since. I require at least 10 hours of sleep per day to function, 12 hours to be my normal self.
My first few days were held during normal-person working hours, and were filled with amazing VHS videos made in the early 90′s about how to be successful at Wal-Mart, and how it’s super cool to follow all the rules!
To say the least I was really impressed by Wal-Mart, Inc. They seemed to really know what it was like to be the working man. I knew they would treat me well.
After I think the third day or so, I met my immediate supervisor: Davis. I’m always a little suspicious about a man whose first name is actually a last name.
Davis didn’t look like a manager, he looked like someone who had stuck around for more than a year while everyone else around him quit or got fired, so voila! Promotion!
Now Davis was an interesting man. He was all about cleaning, he knew nothing else. Everything in his life revolved around cleaning, nothing else mattered. He was the expert of all experts, regarding floor cleaning. He could tell you 10 ways to buff linoleum tile that you never knew were possible.
He explained to me how the other people working under him had certain…idiosyncrasies.
Brian appeared to be certifiably insane. The type of insane that you were scared that if you said the wrong thing, he would stab you with a pen from his pocket protector.
Dale was legitimately mentally handicapped. He hardly ever spoke, and when you asked him a question, you weren’t sure if he was even listening to you, because his lazy eye tricked you into thinking he was looking at something else.
Then there was Jared, an African-American youth who preferred to listen to his iPod, and realized that he was not a neurosurgeon, and lives didn’t depend on how well of a job he did cleaning the floor. The other three didn’t get that memo.
The first thing I learned was how to successfully use a dustmop. I have to admit, I was pretty awesome at it. Then I moved on to the buffer. It was a pretty simple machine, with only one rule: Never Stop. If you stopped, you would buff a circle into the floor that could not be removed. Next time you go to Wal-Mart, look for little swirly circles on the floor. If you find one, you know an inexperienced buffer-operator broke the Golden Rule.
After a day or two, Davis thought I was ready to give the floor cleaning machine a shot. I informed him that I had my Class A CDL (I can drive tractor-trailers) and he said oh, well I guess if you’re used to driving big rigs, you probably have a knack for figuring out how a piece of equipment handles.
While he was talking, I had to subdue the blusterous laughter that was threatening to erupt from my mouth-hole. Did he really just compare driving a tractor-trailer to running a floor cleaner? He did. In his mind, the floor cleaner was as complex of a beast as a D-9 bulldozer, and twice as sexually attractive.
After my first night with the floor machine, upon returning home to sleep the day away, I awoke to an unusual rash on my ankles. It was slightly itchy and red, but I figured I probably just haven’t been washing my ankles well enough.
After the second night running the floor machine, I knew something was amiss. I returned home to find the rash on my ankles was now blistering. It looked horrible, I had never experienced something like that before, and I was completely stumped as to why the skin on my ankles looked like it was falling off, yet there was a distinctive line where it stopped right above my foot.
After the third night, I had concluded that the distinct line on my rashy ankles was exactly where my socks were. Something was causing me to break out, but my socks were protecting me from it. I realized it must have been the cleaning solution we put in the floor cleaning machine. Somehow, it must have been spraying backwards onto my jeans, where it seeped onto my skin, but my socks (bless their hearts) repelled the attack. I showed Davis my rash and told him my conclusion. He offered to let me run the buffer for a day or two and see if the rash got better. It did. His next genius idea was to put me back on the floor machine to see if it got worse. Yeah, that’s a great idea, give me a rash on purpose. It did.
I told him I didn’t want to run the floor cleaner again. I could tell he was slightly annoyed, but for $7.35 an hour, I wasn’t going to allow my legs to fall off. The next day, I never showed up.
Never work the night shift at Wal-Mart. The people you see at 2:00am shopping at Wal-Mart are the scariest people you could ever imagine. What are they doing up at that hour? Why are they buying a box of Wheat Thins, two packs of dental floss, and a carton of cigarettes? Why couldn’t those things wait until a reasonable hour when normal people go to the store?
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