Friday, May 29, 2009

Walmart: My Personal Hell

During the summers I work at Century Bank, last summer as a random file scanner/switchboard operator/address label sticker/vault of loan documents reorganizer/anything else they could come up with, and this summer as a teller. All teller training is done at the main office of the bank, which has normal banking hours: 9-4 on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, 9-12 on Wednesday, and 9-5 on Friday (but you have to be there at 8 and generally don't get to leave until 30 minutes after the bank closes). Normally when someone teller trains, they are kept at the main office for a while, just to be sure they're comfortable with it before they are sent to whatever branch they are intended for; however, when I finished my initial training, there was someone already waiting to start theirs, and since there are a limited number of windows, and I hadn't made any huge mistakes so far, I was sent to another branch. This was fine because the branch they sent me to also has normal banking hours. I was there for a few days and liking it well enough when I got the dreaded call: they wanted me to fill in for someone who had called in sick at the Walmart branch. This particular branch is about the size of my bedroom, is located right in the middle of the front wall of Walmart, between the SmartStyle and customer service, and is open from 9-8 Monday through Saturday. The regulars there work in shifts: one group works Monday-Wednesday and the other group works Thursday-Saturday and at the end of every month they switch. Since I was not a regular, that first week, after having worked the normal 8-4 at another branch on Monday, I worked 8-8 on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, AND Saturday. I had Sunday and Monday (Memorial Day=bank closed!!!) to recuperate and then worked Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

The last half of the week is when most people get paid so that's when everyone wants to come cash their checks. Since they don't make it to town before the other branches close, they all head to Walmart. At any given moment on Thursday and Friday afternoon and all day Saturday, the line can be backed up all the way past customer service to the bathroom. It is utter chaos. We don't have time to think between transactions. It's all mindless handing out of money, and when it's all over and the bank is finally closed, we are all so stiff and sore and worn out that we are completely worthless.

The beginning of the week is not much better than the end, but for a completely different reason. It is very slow and we are all quite aware of the lengthiness of a 12 hour work day. We sit at our little windows and watch the world go by, literally since everyone in the county goes to Walmart multiple times a week. When I get tired of people watching I just kind of stare out into space. There are 3 light bulbs within my line of sight that flicker on and off constantly all day every day. You can't escape them. When you look down, the flickering reflects on the floor. Wednesday, I watched a bright yellow "Clearance" balloon escape from its string and float up to the ceiling. It was headed for a sky light, but got stuck on a rafter, so it hung out there for a while. Eventually it unstuck itself from the rafter and made it to the skylight. It floated there for the better part of the day, but by late afternoon had apparently tired of sky gazing, so it floated off towards produce.

I think I'm going to die in Walmart.