Life at Wal-Mart, Vol. 3: Welcome to Hell

In the past week, we've brought you two installments of real (horror) stories from real Wal-Mart employees. Today, our third and final installment: bloody applesauce, child porn, post-concussion drug-testing, health code violations, and employees who are very, very angry.

Horror Stories

  • "I was shelving jars of applesauce that I had helpfully transported from 4 aisles down. While putting a giant 40 once jar on the shelf, it slipped from my hand. I made the unwise decision to attempt to catch it. The next thing I knew, I saw shattered glass and applesauce all over the floor. Dammit! I would have to fill out an incident report over the damaged merchandise. A few moments later, I noticed the applesauce was mixed with a rapidly increasing volume of bright red liquid. I looked down at my arm and I was covered in blood from the middle of my forearm to the palm of my hand. The jar had shattered against my arm and two shards of glass had punctured my inner forearm in two places. The first cut was roughly two inches, and second about an inch. The cuts were deep enough to see bone, veins and more veins passed the bone. I stood there for a few moments until a co-worker came by. I calmly asked him to get me Todd, our supervisor. The co-worker looked at the the bloody man covered with blood and applesauce and screamed "Oh god, someone get a tourniquet!" (which would have been a terrible idea, I had not hit a vein) and darted off up one of the main aisles. A few moments later, I was surrounded by co-workers and the aforementioned Todd handed me a wad of paper towels and then inexplicably began wiping applesauce off my shirt. He walked me to the back room, gave me some new, less blood soaked paper towels and I was driven to the ER by another supervisor. At the ER, glass was picked out of my arm with a what appeared to be tweezers and I was given 10 stitches. And here is where the pure Wal-Mart evilness kicks in.
    I was driven back to the store, and told that I was have to take a drug test as soon as the local drug testing facility opened. Since the incident occurred at around 3 a.m., and the drug testing facility opened at 8, I was told I should just go ahead and finish up my shift. I was 19, it was my first job, so I agreed. I was sent back out on the floor to continue stocking the applesauce an hour after getting 10 stitches and glass picked out of my arm while wearing clothes that were absolutely soiled mix of blood and applesauce. I looked like I had just murdered someone. But why should that matter to Wal-Mart?"

  • "We had a very nice elderly woman working in the crafts department and had been with the company and in that one store for more than 25 years. A box fell off a high shelf, hit her in the head and left her dizzy and possibly concussed. The store manager tasks me with interviewing her to fill out an incident report, and this woman is nauseous, dizzy and exhibiting all the classic signs of a concussion. I ask, Shouldn't we take her to the hospital? Nope, let her fill out this form first, she's fine. Then the store manager pulls me aside and starts asking me if she said anything weird, if I thought she was covering her tracks and if I thought she smoked weed. Seriously? A box fell off a shelf in the stock room, it's on tape, there were three witnesses and she's about 75 years old. The store manager then has me take her to the company's drug-testing lab on the way to the hospital. The whole time this lady is complaining about feeling sick and having a headache, and then we have to wait almost two hours at the lab. The doctor at the lab even chews me out about taking her there first. Then I take her to the hospital where it's another two hours to get checked out. It comes back she has a mild concussion and can go home. When we get back to the parking lot, I ask her if I can drive her home or do anything to help her out. She's feeling a bit better at this point, says she'll be fine and just asks if I can drop her off directly at her car so she can go straight home. I oblige, go back in the store, log into the computer system and clock her out. The store manager finds out I did that after she was discharged from the hospital with "just a concussion" and rips me for it, saying she was fine to go back to work. Looking back, probably the only thing I regret about my time at Walmart was that I didn't just take that lady straight to the hospital or call an ambulance for her when she first got hit and couldn't stand up rather than listening to the store manager."

  • "The worst story, though. Involved my Girlfriend at the time. we were both hired for the Christmas rush, so we did all our "training" together. She worked in the Photo lab. One day she had someone come in and drop off a couple roll of film, as she was developing them, she noticed some nude pics, which they are allowed to print. The next roll had child pornography on it, at first they seemed like normal pics, kid in the bathtub sort of thing, pics all parents have of there kids. But, then things went downhill. She immediately stopped the roll, and took it out of the machine and called the manager. They told her to just give the roll back to the guy, and tell him they couldn't develop it. After the manager left, my girlfriend did the right thing, and called the cops. They arrested the guy, and fired my girlfriend. I was never so proud of anyone, as i was of my girlfriend."

  • "I worked as an overnight meat sales person in a small town super
    Walmart. I started noticing a LOT of health code violations regarding
    handling the meat. Cases not cleaned, re-labeling expiry dates, water
    leaks in the coolers, you name it. I complained to my first line
    supervisor, got brushed off. Complained to the store manager, got
    brushed off. When I finally went to the region manager and
    complained...they made a lot of crap up to fire me with.
    I found out about the made up stuff, because...I overheard the
    hiring/personnel person discussion with the store manager how they
    were planning to 'nail someone on overnight.'
    Also, Wal-Mart makes it a policy not to share information with health
    inspectors. You are told specifically what to tell them, and what
    you've "lost". Stuff you are supposed to tell them are things that'll
    get you shut down. You 'lose' records that will just result in a
    fine."

  • "I would also be left up at the desk for 9 hours with no breaks while being diabetic (they claim I never told them that, even though it was written on all the forms.) Customers would have to take pity on me and buy me food to keep me from passing out. One day I did pass out and management showed up, put me in a wheel chair, wheeled me to a back room and left me alone. No one called an ambulance. I finally came to several minutes later and managed to get to a vending machine to get a candy bar to boost my sugar. There were also numerous times that I was forced to break state and federal laws regarding firearm and WIC item returns. I would spend my lunch hours crying in my car in the parking lot. I finally just walked out, even though I had no other options. I would rather be unemployed then ever work for the again."

  • "My Walmart experience is one that I will never forget. I was hired for a brand new store that had just been built. I made within a dollar of minimum wage as a full time day stockman. My responsibilities were to get the carts, heavy merchandise and other lifting and lugging as was needed.
    My work routinely required that I go into the back of the store to get merchandise down from storage. I did this 3-5 times per day every day. The merchandise I was asked to get included bicycles, power wheel toys that weighed upwards of 180 plus pounds (in a very awkward large box with uneven weight distribution), barbeque grills and snow-blowers. All of these heavy items were placed in the top parts of the shelves (except for the bicycles hanging from the ceiling of the stockroom) as the lower parts of the shelves were used for merchandise that moved more frequently.
    I did all of this without every having access to a forklift, man-lift or even a second person to help (you know those boxes that say 2 man lift?). I had an 18 foot wooden ladder rated at 150 pounds; I was a lineman in football in high-school and weighed 225 pounds. I routinely had to haul 400 pounds up and down a wooden ladder rated for 150 pounds.
    The ladder also had the slight problem of being shorter than the bottoms of the bicycles I had put up or down from the ceiling several times a day. In order to reach the bicycles I had to stand on top of the ladder (the step marked do not step here), stand on my tip toes and reach the bottom of the wheel of the bicycle that was hanging from the ceiling. I then had to push it up, swing it sideways off the hook, and somehow lower it down while not falling. Try to hold a bicycle above your head by the back tire so that it points straight up sometime on the ground to get an idea of how difficult this was.
    I felt this was unsafe, complained to management repeatedly that I needed a forklift and was denied in my request again and again. One day while moving a large power wheel box I fell on the wobbly ladder. The only reason I recovered was that the power wheel box jammed just right for me to catch on the way down. This time I had enough and filed a complaint with OSHA describing the situation. After months of refusals, two brand new and taller fiberglass ladders with a higher weight rating mysteriously showed up the next morning.
    It took years after my parting with Walmart before that store received equipment like forklifts. I'd like to think it happened without someone getting seriously hurt and suing, but I just don't see any other way it could have happened. These events took place 17-18 years ago, and I have since moved on to a professional career that has taken me around the country as a consultant. I have never once in all of those years met a company that needed a union more than Walmart does."

Everyday Life as a Wal-Mart Worker

  • "I was basically caught by the manager making out with a chik at storage and was grabbed by him aggressively so I acted on self defense and am now facing assault charges. Bull shit"

  • "But the absolute worst thing about working there had to be the Walmart cheer. In case you've never been fortunate enough to witness the daily Walmart pep rally, it basically consists of all the available "Associates" gathering in a big circle to hear about how much money "our" store had brought in the previous day and how we all needed to work even harder so "our" store would bring in more money than all the other Walmarts nearby tomorrow. And to seal the deal we would all take part in the Walmart cheer, a ritual that simultaneously drains you of all hope for the future while at the same time somehow numbing you to the point of lethargic resignation to your lot in life."

  • "My wife has worked at Wal-Mart for almost ten years now. She has accumulated over 60 hours of sick leave, and god knows how much personal time, this year alone. The problem? Wal-Mart policy only lets you miss so many days a year, even if you use your sick leave or personal time. So having missed FOUR days since MARCH of this year (today is October 19th) She got talked to, and was told if she calls in sick or takes another personal day before a specific date in November, she will be WRITTEN UP! How can you let an employee accumulate sick and personal time, and then write them up if they take advantage of that accumulated time? But my wife assures me, that this is the Wal-Mart Policy, and always has been."

  • "I spent one horrible summer working at a Wal-Mart in college. They treat their employees terribly, and as a young, innocent late teenager I didn't see it at first. The employees are a mix of people just trying to do their job and the worst kind of people you could meet. The latter of course, never get fired. The former were often people on food stamps or other assistance. Many people had this as their second job to make ends meet.
    All the cameras at my store were trained on the employees because WE were the ones that would steal. There was a cashier who they caught stealing and instead of firing him they put him in the frozen section, because stealing frozen things is harder. I kid you not, that was their justification. The turnover rate at this store was 90%, and was in one of the best neighborhoods. The cashiers were 9 times out of 10 the most competent ones in the store and to be moved to another department usually meant you couldn't hack it at the front of the store. One of my co workers wanted to get away from the register and move to the floor, management refused since his IPH was high. They kept stalling and making excuses."

  • "Recently at Walmart there have been several new policies in effect trying to cut down on pharmacy staff diverting pills (stealing). I'm all for stopping people from stealing, but not at mine or my colleague's expense. The new rules include: no radios, no heaters, no fans, no food, no stools, no drinks (not even bottled water), no clothing with pockets, no cell phones (will be enforced by pharmacy cameras), and the biggest kicker: no technician can use the pharmacy restroom, BUT they still have to clean it."

  • "'Greetings from the 10th circle of Hell! There are few good paying manufacturing jobs in this city because these soul-sucking goons from Arkansas are selling out their country one lead-tainted cheap product at a time. Run for the parking lot. run!'
    That's how I wanted to greet customers but I was still too stupid to realize that 'faithful employee' was a Wal-Mart misnomer for sucker."

  • [A portion of a 40-point list]: "28. (This is an actual quote from a REAL Wal-Mart store Manager) "Wal-Mart associates are like cattle. All you have to do is prod them and eventually they'll do exactly what you tell them to."
    (Prodding refers to poking a cow with a hot iron brand.)
    29. The day after everybody (literally) in the store has their hours cut because of the floundering economy, it is NOT in bad taste to walk around soliciting charitable donations from employees who just recieved a 25% cut in pay.
    30. I can't put this cutely, so lets just tell it straight. Everybody in the store had their hours cut (see #31). Any associate who wanted to try to retain the number of hours they're scheduled was being scheduled to work other
    departments. One associate was scheduled to make up his hours in MY department... working the shifts -I- was just cut.
    31. My Store Manager had the gall to tell us at a meeting that, and I quote, "no hours have been cut from the schedule, they've simply been 'redistributed'". Redistributed to where, you fat fuck? EVERYBODY in the store is missing hours."

  • "Working at Wal-Mart isn't ALL bad. Once you get into Management that is. Our management (all dept heads/managers) used to go to Chili's every weekday for margaritas, then come back and drink on the to-go bottles they bought while in a 'meeting' in the front office for a few hours. Leave at the end of their shift totally blasted. Why not? They used the 'overage' money from when cashiers accidentally forgot to give it to customers."

  • "If you make it to management you're golden. Otherwise, welcome to hell."

The Wal-Mart Fans

  • "I have worked for Wal-Mart on the distribution side for almost 4 years now. I have to say it is the best job I have ever had. I get paid great and have good benefits. Management is pretty good. They are very approachable and will get down and work throwing boxes just like everyone else. Don't get me wrong I know the store side of the company gets paid less than I do and I guess people that don't work for Wal-Mart have an issue with that. But McDonalds pays even less and has the same overtime policy (there is no overtime). Wal-Mart has a lot of rules for employees and some ways of doing things that may seem strange or unfair to some, but if you had a company as large as Wal-Mart and were a target for lawyers wanting to sue you , maybe your rules would be the same. All and all I do not regret joining this company. Will I make a career out of it? Probably not, but I still enjoy my job and this company. Besides if people don't like Wal-Mart why do they keep shopping there?"

  • "I work at Walmart right now, and have for a year. With the raise I got for my one year eval, I am making over 2 dollars above minimum wage. It may not sound like much, but for me it really helps. I have arthritis, that has bothered me since I was in junior high (I'm 21 now). When I asked about getting a stool, I was told by my immediate supervisor that all I needed to do was bring in a note from a doctor. I got one, with difficulty ( I have no insurance, and had to to to a clinic). I brought it into work and was promptly told by personnel that there was a form for the doctor to fill out, and a simple not from the doctor wasn't enough. I went to the store manager and explained to him what was going on. He told me not to worry about it, and gave his permission for me to use a stool. No one has bothered me about it since."

  • "It is sometimes very easy to sensationalize the bad and highlight the evils of a large corporation, and I'm not trying to take away anything from the individuals who have shared their stories of great tribulation while working for Wal-Mart, but I thought I would share a story about a Wal-Mart greeter who was meaningful in my life. I only knew her as "Vida" or Mrs. Vida as I was much younger when I first met her. My mom always demanded that I respect adults and Wal-Mart employees were no different. Every trip to Wal-Mart meant we got to see Mrs. Vida and were obliged to give her a big hug...I will always appreciate Mrs. Vida and I'm sure she had to put up with her fair share of abuse too, but she was always there with a smile and a hug, ready to do her job."

My sincere thanks to everyone who sent in a story. You are all American champions.

Previously:


Life at Wal-Mart, Vol. 1
Live at Wal-Mart, Vol. 2

[Photo via Getty]