Monday, March 26, 2007

WalMartians...Little "Green" Men?

I have a weird sense of humor, so please don't take half of what I write seriously, or personally. I find irony and incongruence to be chuckle fodder. Even when things irk me or strike me as inane.

In my rooting around for a job within a decent driving distance, to help further our goals to GTHOOD (get the heck out of Dodge), I was summoned to Wallyworld's employment wonderland. A few months ago, I sent legions of online applications zipping into the ethersphere -- a smorgasborg of every conceivable local business possible having openings either full or parttime. After all, most places around here won't even take paper applications. This area has FEW if ANY real mom-and-pop businesses, and those that are here employ, well, Mom and Pop. I had to approach some of the Takeover Conglomerates if I hope to have any sort of gainful employment.

The wait has been nerve-wracking, and of course in the meantime has been the unfolding progression of interviews for The Job I Really Want. I'm down to two more left for that one before I know for sure. Drumrollll.....

But since there's NO guarantee of ANYthing, and since we reallllyyyyyy need the benefit of some shekels in the coffers, I'm interviewing at any and all available places.

Some of the folks I applied with months ago are now beginning to call me for interviews. Some are overlapping. I felt I needed to say this before mentioning that today I ventured into the vast monstrosity of mega-retail commonly referred to as WalM*rt. Yup. I feel like a traitor every time I go in there.

It's not that I don't like to buy on the cheap, or that I'm a purist to the degree that I'll decry any store with a paved parking lot. Yes, I've bought there. But I either have a twinge or an outright kick in the stomach to some degree doing so.

I've never cozied up to the salesman's soul. It all smacks of snake oil, slick willies, screaming advertisements, corporate sprawl, and meganopoly. There is nothing lovely, to me, about this sort of "progress." Especially when it equates into the buying up of rural America and the forcing out of regional tradesmen and distinctives.

Yes, we've all heard this rant before.

Cutting to the chase. I arrived early, in interview clothes. (Defined by me as Clothing Requiring Pantyhose)

A woman I'd never have pegged as a managerial sort came loping through, nabbed me, hustled me through The Secret Bowels of WalMartdom, and plopped me at a plastic table. She plucked a Ms. Doe from her floor station long enough to have her interview me from questions on a sheet of paper she'd never looked at before, and the said Ms. Doe circled her responses to my answers as I gave them. Just the general What Would You Do If sorts of interview queries.

As this process unfolded, there were stages of waiting. There were other people cycling through the room, and just overhead, from a TV suspended from the ceiling at an angle, was the constant drone of motivational speaking. A man, likely someone I should have recognized as An Important WalMartian (lol!), was trying to whip up enthusiasm with the typical hype. He was nearly at Old Tent Revival pitch, and I recognized the predictable Whip-It-Up charisma watch-the-birdie stay-with-me-folks manipulative business-speak. RAH, WalM*rt!! (I expected bunting and banners any minute) I did an instant tune-out, at least as much as possible with it being piped in from overhead.

During the first interview, I heard in another room what must have been a very large group of people, listening to a real speaker. There were no discernable words, and I'd not have known they were in an adjacent room but for the intermittent whoops and applause, all in concert...a little too much in concert? On cue? (Skeptic I am) Unless someone were running for office, this was a bit overly enthusiastic applause for the pre-caffiene hours of the day. Was someone internally on the campaign trail?

Then, from the overhead TV's nonstop preaching came the word that drew my attention back to the TV screen. "Sustainability!!!"

The Walpreacher was saying something along the lines of "Sometimes, from complaints and seemingly bad feedback we can learn something. You might have a whole lot of bad feedback, (blah blah blah) from people who seem to have nothing good to say about anything, but there are times we can hear that one that has some truth to it (blahblahblah)...such as SUSTAINABILITY!!"

He had my attention now.

And then he began the WalM*rtSaviorOfTheWorld has embraced Sustainability (and so on and so on) with a whole slick sell on the virtues of WalM*rt's leading the Saving of the World through its SUSTAINABILITY efforts blah blah blah.

It went on and on but I was filling out forms. I blanked after a couple of paragraphs from TV Man, but it had been enough to convince me that for some reason WMart is now using sustainability as it new cover slogan.

Does anyone remember the late 80s and early 90s when there was such an emphasis in the press about Made In the USA? WalM*rt was one of the biggest mouthpieces. I always look. I've never seen more Made in Chinas, Taiwans, Koreas, The Phillippines, etc in any one place. In fact you have to LOOK HARD for a Made in the US.

The word Sustainability rolled off me like an oiled slicker. It had the simple ring of Opportunistic Sales Approach written all over it.

I was sent back to a seating area in the store to await the availability of a manager for the second interview. I was joined by 4 other people. The Meeting should be over soon...all the managers were in it.

An hour went by. Sat, we did. And sat. And sat. Every once in a while, someone would appear to apologize for our having to wait so long. Inside, the managers, their meeting now exceeding two hours and going into the third, were still rapt and occasionally erupting on cue into little blurs of noise.

The young man seated beside me, also waiting for his interview, wondered aloud when the Sealed Room Meeting Participants would be done. ("After all, THEY were the one who had scheduled OUR interviews for precisely this time..." he said under his breath. How much longer would it be?)

After they've passed the Koolaid? I wondered... ;-)

(chuckling again...)

Non-managerial employees trailed faithfully in and out of the back rooms like soldier ants. Finally, we were summoned.

The rest went fine, but there was a tone to it all of having signed up with an evangelistic group. I get this feeling about some companies when seeing their intial line-up of cheerleaders. You have to kind of spray yourself down to not get caught up in the foreign language of it all. It's a mighty special Club, after all. I wondered if I would hear B movie zombie music at some point?


I dutifully drove to the lab to offer my recycled beverage for drug screening.

I exited the Fort Knox of bathrooms and was dismissed by the lab tech.

It's good for them to be thorough. You do not want to assist part-time in KitchenWares under the influence.


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