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From Jim Gilliam's blog archives
Going undercover at Wal-Mart

February 22, 2006 11:59 AM

Here's someone who got a job at Wal-Mart in order to write about the experience. Whoever this is is smart, articulate and the blog is a great read. It's like a quest to get more hours. Like, the food sucks, can I have some more?

And then there's the lunch room. There's a horrible scene in the movie about this..


In addition to convenience, many associates are drawn to shopping at WAL-MART by the 10% employee discount. However, this discount is only for immediate family, does not cover items that are on sale, and most importantly, does not cover any food. I have made it a habit to announce an employees discount to them in an effort to get across how shitty a perk this really is. "And 5 cents is your discount..." Essentially, WAL-MART has captured the market of 1.3 million Americans, nothing to slouch at. This stranglehold is never more pronounced than at lunchtime. Nearly every associate will clock out for lunch then run back into the store to pick up a container of popcorn shrimp or a frozen dinner along with a soda and some other junk food. Although this meal is still meager and unhealthy, it nevertheless adds right up, easily breaking 3, 4, or even 5 dollars.

Therefore I have been bringing my own lunches, a luxury I am well aware many of the associates do not have. My seemingly modest lunches of rice and bean leftovers have drawn ooh's and ahh's, and feeling guilty I have tried to cut back as much as possible. Not helping matters is all of the people who content themselves with a bag of chips and a soda from the vending machines, or even worse, not eating at all. I routinely chide my friends -- especially the young women -- to eat something substantial since far too many of them treat their poverty as an incentive to diet. One woman summed it up tragically when I asked her if the tiny burrito she was sitting down with was dinner. "Yeah, if you are poor" she sighed. "The second week [after payday] is always meager."

More from the archive in Wal-Mart.

Going undercover at Wal-Mart (02.22.2006)

Next Entry: Amazing. (02.27.2006)
Previous Entry: Google rips Bush admin: "so uninformed as to be nonsensical" (02.19.2006)

Read the 11 comments.

tomaig:

In my local Wal-Mart, you can buy a whopping BIG burrito for a dollar. That's one (1)dollar. Do they even sell "tiny" burritos in Wal-Mart?

The second week after payday being meager is now "tragic"?

I guess way back when when I was a young man in the Navy - where we got paid every two weeks - those meager "weeks-before-payday" were not annoyances or inconveniences but were instead tragedies.

Oh, the pain, the pain...

Come on Jim - I know you're not a Wal-Mart fan but surely you can see how mawkish, how contrived, how melodramatic this whole thing is?

The employee discount is 10% but he's telling his employees ""And 5 cents is your discount..." "? For what? a 50-cent candy bar? Is he being deliberately misleading?

The kind benefactor, chiding his friends to "eat, eat!" while his rice-and-beans leftovers bring forth ooohs and aaahs? He feels guilty for his bounty (rice and beans!) and, abashed, now brings in less so as not to shame his poor, pitiful co-workers?

What a load of tripe....

Fri Feb 24 2006 8:55 AM


Dave E.:

"The employee discount is 10% but he's telling his employees ""And 5 cents is your discount..." "? For what? a 50-cent candy bar? Is he being deliberately misleading?"

"However, this discount...most importantly, does not cover any food."

Sounds pretty clear on my first read.

Nothing quite as American as that open contempt for the working poor...


Fri Feb 24 2006 3:45 PM


Mike of the Great White North:

Actually i sort of agree with rick on this. He's right that as long as the worker has the right to quit, there is a choice. No one is forced to work at wal mart. Thats why i would consider for all wal mart workers to strike and fuck the company over. If wal mart can find scabs to replace them, so be it. It's like ive said with my beloved Toronto Maple Leaf hockey team. I love them to death but im not paying 250 for a nose bleed seat (exageration) but as long as there are idiots out there willing to pay to watch, the team has no incentive to lower the price. As long as there are people willing to work for shit, then thats what wal mart will provide.

I would advise people to go on welfare rather than work at wal mart because wal mart pays below the poverty line. This will no doubt cause the right to go up in arms, but unless theres a system in place to help the unskilled learn trades or skills without assistance (like OSAP here) then they will always be stuck at the bottom and forced to live as an underclass. Wal Mart is a highschool job, not a career.

But i'd still love to see that strike!

Fri Feb 24 2006 7:02 PM


Paul:

That blog is a wonderful read. So is this one. Always something interesting. Just have to step over the trolls in the comments.

Thu Mar 2 2006 12:52 AM


Frank Lennon:

Many grocery chains do not give discounts on food products, mainly due to the low profit margins in food sales.

Many do, however, give their people decent discounts

Sat Mar 25 2006 4:28 PM


Frank Lennon:

I meant benefits in my last line, not discounts.

Sat Mar 25 2006 4:29 PM


Former_WD_Employee:

I am a former Winn Dixie employee. Winn Dixie a grocer out of Jacksonville, FL. When I worked there, we would receive Associate Discounts with our Customer Reward Card. At times, we would be rewarded with a 5-10% Discount, but each month, there's a different promotion.

Thu Mar 30 2006 10:15 AM


j:

Undercover's report contradicts itself. He says, "Nearly every associate will clock out for lunch then run back into the store to pick up a container of popcorn shrimp or a frozen dinner along with a soda and some other junk food. Although this meal is still meager and unhealthy, it nevertheless adds right up, easily breaking 3, 4, or even 5 dollars." Then says they only have a tiny burrito to eat. Which is it?

Sat Jun 3 2006 6:37 PM


Justin:

J you're a dummy. There's more than one employee. Different people eat different things for lunch.

Also many people do not have a choice but to work at wal-mart after all other local businesses have gone bankrupt.

Sat Jan 20 2007 5:34 PM


aegreatone:

i used to work at walmart and I can say right now I was quite happy with my old job. 10% discount saved me allot of money and although it didn't cover food, i was never eating frozen foods or a tiny burrito, i always brought a lunch with me and it sure wasn't a meager meal of rice and beans...it was more like leftover spaghatti, pork chops, steak and anything else that was made last night for dinner with a nice Powerrade.

Walmart at the time was an easy job for me. Although the pay was not as good as say my peers were getting, but then again, my peers were working in the texas hot sun for 10hrs making 10-16 an hr...it payed enough to get through college and afford my apartment and other stuff to keep me occupied.

I reliaze that my situation, is not as hard on folks as others, some of my walmart associates had mouths to feed, and didn't enough to afford the bills at the end of the day. but what do you expect 7 bucks a pop. There's plenty of other jobs that pay more than Walmart, so why not go there?

I chose walmart because it was an easy job for an 18yr old like me. Now at 22, i have a great job working for a computer company pulling down 600-800 a week.

Thu Jun 28 2007 3:10 AM


Mrs. Stewart:

I work at Wal Mart and LOVE my job. They treat me well and pay better than most of the retail jobs in the area. I happen to shop there for everything BUT food, so I get a discount on the things that I went there for to begin with. We also have a Subway in our store and get 10% anytime we want. That's better than a meager meal of beans and rice.

You seem like a person who has nothing better to do in life than be a disgruntled employee and make everyone's job harder than it already is.

The discounts don't just end at 10% off at Wal Mart. Have you looked on the website at all the other discounts you get..such as 20% off Verizon cell phone plans? I think things like that make up for not getting a discount on the already discounted food, don't you?

Your store is probably one of the stores in a city that hardly makes any money, so they have to pay you less. But I love mine and would never have anything bad to say about it. Every store is different and it's not fair for you to degrade ALL of them when you've worked at ONE of them.

Fri Aug 24 2007 3:06 PM


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