Chronicles of Wally

Don't Tell Mama I Work At WalMart !

Wally_M

Wally_M
Location
Retail, Hell
Title
Low Man on the Totem Pole
Bio
I am a wage-slave currently owned by Wal-Mart. I spend my days toiling at the front door of Walmart and observing the human condition from a rather interesting perspective. I write about my life....or lack thereof.

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Salon.com
Editor’s Pick
JULY 17, 2009 9:33AM

History and Insight Into the Job of a People Greeter

Rate: 39 Flag

The position of People Greeter was first set up by Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, as a way for senior citizens to supplement their Social Security checks by spending their remaining days being verbally abused by the general public. 

Management was ordered to go out and find little old men and women who had one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel and position them at or near the front entrance to each store.  Their job was to greet strangers and since, for most of them, even their next of kin were strangers now, this job was a natural. 

Their other duties included handing these strangers a shopping cart, as long as they could do it and still keep one hand on their walkers. Those confined to wheelchairs were exempt from this responsibility.

Management of each store was ordered to designate one assistant manager to make hourly checks of the Greeters and make sure they still had a pulse.

So the next time you walk into a walmart store and you see one of these geriatric welcome-wagon people, take a closer look at them. What you are really seeing is a person who, in all likelihood has spent a lifetime working. They might have climbed the corporate ladder until age knocked them off, or they may have built and ran their own business successfully. Many of the men you see are members of that Greatest Generation who fought through WWII and now all of them have one thing in common.....They are fated to end their days at a front door of Walmart.

Something else they all have in common: They all say a prayer each night before they go to bed: "Please God, don't let me drop dead at the door."

My own story is a bit different from these poor folks. I came to the door after sustaining an injury when I was working in the meat market. I was the victim of a falling box of frozen turkeys.....a story for another time.

While I mended, I was put on the door to fill in. One of the regular greeters was recouping at home from a quadruple bypass surgery....Walmart had given him a week to heal and get back to work.  Who says corporate America doesn't have a heart.

Well I enjoyed what I was doing so much I decided to transfer to that position full time. Besides where else could I work where my co-workers would refer to me as "The Kid"?  All of them had at least twenty-five years on me.

The first negative thing I noticed about the job of Greeter was that because of the advanced age of most of these folks, customers seemed to think it was alright to verbally abuse them.  I have seen greeters cursed, pushed, and even spit upon.  So, the first thing I did when I started as a greeter was to reeducate some of my more rude customers.

Suddenly they were faced not with some frail old Greeter, but with a fifty-something, six foot, one inch guy with a bad attitude.  The first time I greeted someone in a friendly manner only to have them say: "Shove it up your ass",  I yanked off my badge and invited the guy outside. "I will put something on you Ajax won't take off buster."

That pretty much set the tone for door greeters from then on and we suddenly got a bit more respect at my store. Now don't get me wrong, I am not some bad ass who goes around looking for a fight. I merely make it a practice to treat everyone in the same manner they treat me.

So there you have it....a little about the job of People Greeter and the people who do that job. Now do me a favor and the next time you go into a Walmart store, go over and gently shake the greeter, wake them up and give them a warm, friendly "Hello".  They might go right back to sleep and not remember you being there at all, but I promise you, you will feel good for having done it.

Just remember, when you get old, you may find yourself in an old folks home living on rice pudding, or at the front door of Walmart being a greeter.

Do yourself a favor...stay in the Home.

 

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"Clean-up on isle 9!"
Wally…Wally…Wally… You are not being fully honest here are you? The main function of the "people greeter" is not to welcome people into the store is it? The primary function is to stop people from stealing things and walking out the door. You don't check receipts as a courtesy to the customer, now do you? And you don't check every bag/sack/backpack/lunch box carried by an employee just to be friendly, do you?
WalMart assumes the worst of every customer and even worse than that of their employees.
My store has the bulletin board in the break room proudly declaring which People Greeter/Asset Protection employee stopped the most theft that week. "Wally_M ..$22.50! Congrats!!! Well done!!!" Meanwhile management routinely robs employees of their bonuses, shorts the foreign employees pay, deliberately hires illegals only to call immigration on them the day before payday thus saving the store two weeks salary.
(Sorry. Not as funny as your post. I do enjoy your humorous look at the grim world of Walmart So no more rants from me. Promise)
Wally,
I love your exposes on life at WalMart. I have long believed that as time goes by for my generation (58 next month) there will be an incredible level of competition to become a WalMart greeter. I'm practicing now and wondering if playing jaunty tunes on a kazoo or making up funnly little jigs to dance would be the best course of action in greeting people for my job audition. Or, if perfecting a surly faux friendly greeting would be best.
You could/should become a recruiter/trainer for those who aspire to this job. It could be more lucrative.
I avoid the big W with tremendous effort. On the rare day that I enter, I do enjoy spending a moment thanking the greeter. My mom did something similar her last year of life. She didn't have to as her home was paid for, she had plenty in the bank, and she owed no man or company. Mom just believed she shouldn't be casual with the remaining savings previously earned by my hard-working blue-collar father... Just thinking of that memory gets me every time. Hugs to greeters, would be or not.
First, congratulations on on being an Editor's Pick!

You bring a human perspective to a position few of us thought about, and I am sure you bring a a little bit of sunshine into the lives of those who let you in!
OM....I haven't even got started on the Corporate Evil which is Walmart, give me time and I will touch on that subject. Now about the loss prevention or, as they call it now, Asset Protection portion of my job.... Yes that is part of it but every store varies in the amount of attention paid to that. Most all the Walmarts that I know of only check EVERY receipt on Blitz Day. On all the other days we are asked to check large items not in bags to make sure they are on the receipts. Yes, we have the board with not only Greeters names and pictures who have stopped thieves, but any other worker who helps save the shrinkage. My biggest stop to date was two thousand and some change when a guy tried to wheel out a cart with a flat screen tv and a computer in it....go figure.

As for checking the employees...I rarely do that, except for managers. I check those puppies every time they leave the store!

As for the robbing of bonuses....all I know is that I have never failed to get one at either store I have worked in over the past almost eleven years. Now if they hire illegals and work them even a day and then call INS to report them, they have to be really stupid because besides hauling off the illegals, Walmart will pay a hefty fine. And, trust me on this, there are legions of lawyers lined up and just waiting for Walmart to withhold workers pay. So, that would have to be an all time stupid move on Walmarts part. Now, having said all of that, I will also tell you, I don't mind you ranting in my blog one bit. I actually agree with you about the bad that Walmart does and I plan on using alot of the material from this blog to write a book about Walmart, but I have to wait 19 months to publish it...that's when I will hang up my greeting shoes! Thanks for reading my blog.

Walter....a recruiter for Walmart? Did you ever have any experience with military recruiters? A Walmart recruiter would be even more hated than those guys! Oh and forget the kazoo and take Martial Arts lessons instead.

Scupper....thanks for reading my blog and God bless your mom. Many older folks take the job because they want to continue to be productive and they also love to socialize with the customers and other workers.

Buffy....HOLY MACARONI! What a surprise to come home to after a day spent "Greeting"! The Editor picked my blog....uh...does that means he actually read the thing? Should I watch my language from now on? Thanks for reading my little offerings Buffy, it means a lot to me.
Wally, An EP means ramp up the rhetoric! Hit the gas, Buddy! That said, i always greet the greeter with a smile and a howdy. I don't think they want to be there anymore than I do and probably much less.
I worked for Wal-Mart for all of a month in the summer of 1999. It was the only job I was ever fired from, for refusing to do the Wal-Mart cheer. (Silly me...I thought that being pleasant to customers and a competent cash register worker were the job requirements.) I really didn't care that I'd been fired...it was the third job I was working at the time. And yes, I worked two or three hours off the clock.

Fast forward seven years. I get certified letters in the mail saying that I'm a plantiff in a class-action lawsuit against Wal-Mart for said unpaid overtime. The lawyers had managed to track me down over three states and six or seven mailing addresses, all over what amounted to $17 unpaid back pay for a part-time job I'd worked at a month the better part of a decade ago.
Yes I have seen them, and not noticed them. I also did not notice the people--presumably able-bodied--who abused them. Why why why does a store like WalMart attract the worst of what I can only call White Trash?
Geeze..it's hard to tell who you dislike more, the old people who you ridicule and stereotype while they're just trying to keep themselves together in a responsible way, or Walmart, the single largest supporter of the nations move to energy conservation via compact flourescent light bulbs and every other form of energy conservation in the US. You do know they've signed on as the biggest supporter of Obama's health care package too, right?
Walmart, if it is to be faulted, is more a symptom of a dimwitted society, another of which would be essays that begin by characterizing senior citizens as dazed and confused parasites that deserve your scorn and ridicule for not staying home as a shut-in or as a human disguised as a decaying dishrag. Thanks.
Good post. I actually get kind of tickled at the little old folks who work as greeters. I have never seen anyone be nasty to them but if I did I would probably pop off at the mouth and rip the aggressor a new one. I don't like to see anyone mistreat the elderly.
Michael....Thanks for the comment and thanks for being one of those nice folks who always smile and speak to us old-geezer-greeters!

Leeandra....Yes, I have heard of others who had similar experiences with that class action suit. It just points out that in cases like that, it is the lawyers who really make the money, not the folks they represent.

Scruffus...thanks for the comment!

Kenneth....I have a theory about that. I had planned on writing about it in the near future. Thanks for reading and commenting!

Doug lucchetti...Damn, man who pissed in your corn flakes? It's called humor...look it up. As for Walmart going green, well hell the only thing they are concerned with turning green is their bottom line. I am glad you told me about them signing on to Obama's health care plan though, that really makes everything alright with me.
Did you spot the sarcasm in that last sentence? Just another attempt at humor...unwad your panties. :)
Lucypuma....Thanks for the comment. I also want to thank you on behalf of all the eldery greeters of which I am one. I wish more people had your attitude.
I'm appalled by the way people treat greeters. The greeters in the big box stores around here are usually either old folks or the mentally handicapped. I cringe every time I see someone ignore them, or do worse. Thanks for sticking up for them.
I always greet the greeters. I also say "see ya" as I head out the door. I can only imagine how much it sucks to stand there all day. And on cold days, getting hit by that blast of air every time several people come in, yuck.
Jess...thanks for the comment and thanks even more for the kind thoughts for us elderly and challenged greeters. Any time you want to see a greeter smile real big, just smile at them first...works every time for me.

Ocular....the cold days are the worse; I HATE cold weather. After an eight hour shift all I want to do is curl up on a heater!
W,

Excellent writing. Have your read much Voltaire? You are channeling a bit, and that is ALWAYS a good thing.

Sam Walton's bastard child is true to its AK roots. It represents the decline and fall, mirrors a lack of education, and, well- no WM store has ever stocked the best product of its kind, ever. Further, all big box stores employ non-experts for the most part, and constantly run out of the few things worth a trip. My heart goes out to you, and to all the real plumbers, roofers etc. who, due to various economic reasons, bite the bullet and put on the vest.

On a very serious note, I spend a lot of time in the Bay Area of California, the place where virtually all the technology red staters "use" is originated. In my experience you could not drag the folks responsible for most innovation that benefits society to such a place. In fact, in classic reverse discrimination admitting to shopping there is instant ostracism. If I am in Berkeley and need 50 shower curtains (don't ask why, listen to Frank Zappa) I will head out to Tracy to make the purchase, with a floppy hat on.

Seriously brother, you got talent. Keep at it!

Aloha Kakou
Surfer....Thank you not only for the comment, but for the compliment as well. You are right about Walmart; they strive for the lowest common denominator in all things.

Kay...that greeter sounds like the kind of guy I would love to meet. It takes a real talent to make those phrases sound the least bit genuine and heart-felt.
After reading your well-written, enjoyable take on being a Wal-Mart greeter, my impression was that you have the presence of mind to see things clearly, but when Doug Luchetti piped up I thought, "Shit! Wally's all messed up!", but after reading your reply to Doug, I thought, "Fuck, yeah, Doug, you douchebag!". Just call me Easy Reader.
very very funny. great stuff. :)
Adam...Thanks for reading and commenting. I do have to disagree however; Doug isn't a douchebag, he just failed to see the humor in my entry and hell, sometimes I even fail to see my humor. :)

nofrillsmonkey....I am very glad YOU saw the humor and I thank you for reading. I love that nickname, by the way.
In Australia we have women who act as greeters,at stores similar to
your Wmart.
I'm glad that they have 'asset protection' in place,seemingly for every item that's stolen,the cost is added on to the consumer.
I've gotten to know the greeter at my local store well enough to share a cigarette,in her coffee break.
More writing,please.:)
Dear Wally, I enjoyed your submission very much. I began my dislike of Wall Mart when they first existed only in Arkansas. They consistently went to small towns that had just enough thriving businesses to serve their public (Mena, AK) Outside of the town they built their big box place. What a curiosity for the townspeople! They all trouped out there and found prices so low, they began shopping their and developed amnesia about their local business district. One by one the store downtown failed and is became and remains to this day a ghost town. It began to dawn on them what the BBStore had done to them. Workers were jerked around and then the local were fired in order to bring in workers who would work below them. It has always given me a nasty taste in my mouth.

About five or so years ago, I wanted to get a wonderful cleaner a friend used when she came to help me after I had some surgery.
She told me the only place she knew to purchase was Wal Mart.
So I swallowed my pride and went. As I am in a wheel chair, I look for a store cart which most big box stores provide. There were about ten of them! Most stores have one or two. BUT, they looked like they had been used as bumper cars. I chose one which looked like it might have some life left in it and started out. Strangely, there were no greeters there. I was only near the cleaning supplies and the damn thing conked out. Imagine, I can't walk and there are no clerks. I got the attention of someone who trucked all the way
back to checkout to find someone to rescue me. None of the other carts worked so they found a wheel chair and pushed me back to the checkout. I got out of their as fast as I could! Still no greeter in sight! (If you wish, add this to your memoir.)
Is my face red! In the forgoing comment, I misspelled their for there, said is for it, and other mistakes. Apologies to all. I really do know how to spell but always need to spell check!
Can't wait to read more.... Wally World is one of my pet peeves in the world.
Peter...most people don't seem to realize that all stores pass on their "losses" to thief by charging higher prices. Last year our store alone lost almost 900,000 dollars in shrinkage of which over half of that was to thieves.

Elizabeth....that is an all to familiar story with Walmart. Many little towns have been crippled by them. Oh and don't sweat the typos, I am probably the KING of typos myself. I'm just glad to have you as a reader.

Renee....it would seem that Walmart is a lot of people's pet peeve. Thanks for the comment.
Yeah, but Wal Mart has yellow hominy. It's hard to find yellow hominy.

"I will put something on you Ajax won't take off buster."

Thanks for giving us the inside story.
I do think different stores have different policies, depending on the manager. Our greeters are little old ladies who can sprint faster than I can to accost someone who has not paid for something. That's a story for another time, too.
Congratulations on the EP and Cover!

warm, friendly hello's to you,
I love the greeters at any store which has them. Although this essay has illumined something of the complexity of the backstory, I ultimately find that they bring a bit of a much-needed human touch to the commercial sphere. I always respond warmly. I know its probably not as easy as it looks and try to let them know that their kind welcome - that bit of human warmth and connection - is appreciated.
zumalicious....Thanks for the comment. Sadly, even our Yellow hominy comes from China.

Brenda....Yes, every store is different. I would love to hear the rest of that story sometime.

Spotted_mind....Thank you so much and I gotta tell you, I was really shocked when I saw my blog on the cover. I was doing the "happy dance" all day.

Monsieur.....Thanks for the comment and thank you too for being kind to your greeters. There is a special place in Heaven for folks like you.
Wally, man, I feel for you. The Evil Empire was a thankfully brief stop (a little under a year) on the retail job parade in the time before entering my current career. Me and my coworkers were definitely treated like crap by some pretty darn miserable people. Thankfully, I had the perspective to realize that majority of people ranged from a tad underdeveloped socially to awesomely friendly.
You are awesome. And you're right. People seem to leave their humanity at the door when they walk into a retail environment. I worked for Walmart as a pharmacy tech for 4 years when getting my college degree. I was always nice to the People Greeters. And, yes, most were older than my grandparents.
I would much rather be doing something than nothing, and I gotta say I don't like the condescending ageism displayed toward older people who either choose to or have to work. "Their job was to greet strangers and since, for most of them, even their next of kin were strangers now, this job was a natural. "
For what it is worth,

I have an autistic son who is 20. He is a high school graduate but not college material and quite inept socially.

We have two Wal-Mart superstores here in town.
The manager of one of them works in tandem with a state agency to find kids like my son who can work their asses off but just are not going to get through any kind of face-to-face interview.

There are a number of people in this boat doing back of the store work or simply collecting shopping carts.
My son works very hard, but he shows up on time, follows the rules, volunteers to work on holidays where possible and his annual review said "exceeds expectations".

A kid who could not get through a face-to-face interview with the manager of the supermarket where his older sister had worked while she was in community college.

Yes his wages are skimpy but it is a start.

I can no longer knock Wal-Mart. I disagree with some of what they have done with their workforce. The medical benefits are not extensive but he DOES have a medical plan. He will have a dental plan at some point in the future. He gets vacation days and he has gotten a bonus. He is learning what work is, the hard way.

But don't make blanket negative comments about the entire company. They are inappropriate.
I
FridaC...Ageism? My, I think we have now plumbed the depth of Political Correctness haven't we. Look, this is humor and since I am a card carrying member of the Senior Citizens Club, I figure I have a right to kid them...and me, a little. If my humor is not your cup of tea, well....thanks for stopping by.

Odd....I once knew a man who was a complete SOB, or so I thought until I found out he was kind to children and small dogs. I had to rethink things...maybe it wasn't a complete SOB, but he was still close enough to one for me. So it is with Walmart...yes they have done some good things. Of course I might argue that much of the good they do has been forced on them by varing court cases and changes in the law, but still....they have done some good.

So maybe they aren't COMPLETE SOB's....they're close enough.

Sinolez and Gwen...thank you both for stopping by and reading and thank you for your comments too.
I go to Wal-Mart maybe once a month or every two months, primarily to get large recurring items on my list that are either hard to find or cost substantially more elsewhere (50 lb bags of cat litter, and the like). I call it "going to hell". The greeters at this particular store are surly, taciturn and snippy. On one occasion, I hadn't even stepped through the door when I saw that there were no carts available inside; I turned to go to the lot to retrieve one, and the greeter grabbed my arm and demanded to search my bag. I grabbed his arm and forced him to let go. Again he demanded to inspect my bag (at this point, I still had not set foot in the store). I threw it to the ground and said, "You want to inspect? Go ahead!" That was when he backed off.
Eric...if it happend the way you said, and I have no reason to believe it didn't, well then that was just all kinds of wrong. That greeter broke a few iron-clad rules in dealing with you and chief among them was laying hands on you in any form. That alone is grounds for immediate firing...right on the spot, no questions asked. I just finished being involved in a court case against Walmart. I was a witness in the case, not a defendant, thank God. A guy was suing for a quarter of a million dollars and one of his complaints was that a greeter grabbed his arm. So, yeah, Walmart takes that sort of thing very seriously. Thanks for the comment.
It's patronizing I think, if people needed so much "nice" in society people would treat each other better. Saying hello to somebody shouldn't have to be a paid position. I remember a time when saying "hello" was pretty customary, today they charge you for it. It goes with out saying, that manners are the only thing that are arbitary, because when they are not used it is quickly noticed. So where is the bias? Due to the many new languages, due to the new way of government, due to mega stores, with people with no money and credit card woes, we now are a kinder gentler country, because we have hired greeters and society kinda dosen't care anymore whether it has the desired affect, just that some person is standing ready to take bad attitudes, low wages, and deal with reciepts, returns, directions in store and still be told in an indirect manner "your not good enough for any other job". It sucks is what I think, but that is only my opinion, I think it is phony and it is unfortunate that our society has gone so far out of whack.
Good day. In fact, I kind of thrill of the old men who act as welcoming. I have never seen someone uncomfortable for them, but if I did it, I'd probably mouth off and tear a new attacker. I have not seen anyone really pozhi
BR, Linda Coleman, Medical Assistant Phlebotomist Jobs from phlebotomy jobs