I worked at my first Wal-Mart for nearly a year before my spouse and I were relocated due to the military to south Georgia. I worked for a Walmart store there before my partner and I decided to get a separation. For the sake of not going back and forth I will speak about Greensboro in this post then the two stores in Georgia in Wal-Mart Tales part 3; one I worked before Greensboro and one after.
Anyways, It was a disaster to leave my recently purchased home in Georgia and estranged spouse at the time however, I thought being back in my old stomping grounds of Greensboro, NC, where I had attended undergrad at NCA&T would do me some good. The Wal-Mart store I was given was only minutes away from the school and one I had frequented during my wild years as a college student, suffering endless papers, finals, greek parties and fast nights. I felt at home, finally for the first time in six years since joining the military and being stationed in North Dakota away from everyone and everything I knew. However, at 26 years old, I felt like an old timer. My hay days of pledging, sitting on the plot and practicing a routine for the step-show were sadly long gone. It felt like sitting on a swing at your old elementary school, nostalgic and magical but distant and lacking substance for the here and now.
This particular store was were you could find every college student in the city along with every drug dealer, prostitute and pimp, literally! Names have been changed within this post to protect the character and individuals I will be discussing. However, I am sure that if they were to read this they would most clearly know who they are and perhaps others. I do not write this post with the intentions of demoralizing or shaming any person, especially since most are still currently people I would not mind knowing again. These stories are REAL and TRUE.
The store manager in Greensboro at the time was named Raynard. He shared a story with me once about how he had to hustle a pimp off the front end of the store that was trying to solicit new help. Raynard was a chill boss to work for. He was as laid back as the grease he must have slicked over his balding scalp daily to attempt to minimize the large gaping hole in the back. He was a white man married to a black woman and therefore somehow thought that this should have allowed him automatic acceptance into the black community as a “brother”. However, I was never too sure about him, he seemed shady in a way as if he would lowkey utilize the pimps services especially since he had a relentless itch south of the border and chain smoked between every meeting.
I kid you not, half way between the morning walk-through briefing with other managers he would attempt to scratch his pelvis on the low, unnoticed. Me being the “attention to detail” worker I am I always noticed! Then one day the itch must have been unforgivable becuase he full throttle scratched! No inhibitions and no worries, full hand, full grab, full scratch as if his loins depended on it and whatever was in his pants had latched on to his balls! When he had finished he continued to go along with the direction of the day as if he had not just had a total meltdown; when he was done he walked briskly to the side exit through the auto department to begin his first pack of Newport’s for the day and possibly check his underwear.
Since the store was teeming with young post puberty college students, exploring their education, possibilities and SEXUALITY, love was ALWAYS in the air! Or something like that….I recall a particular AP by the name of Vick that was “too hot to trot” he was seriously the freshest thing walking and it was dope to see his kid and play 90’s swag at times, but the dude obviously did not realize HE WORKED AT WAL-MART. There was no need to be that fresh to walk around Wal-Mart for 8hrs! He must have been trying to pick up babes as well as catch cold hard cases of make-up or clothing theft. One day this AP associate decided he was sexy enough to sport some new, fresh and perky UGG BOOTS to work!! I had already suspected this young man to be homosexual based on his particular care and concern for his appearance above all things but this was the icing on the cake. Like the men that tried to make male rompers a thing, this too should have been left to the ladies in my opinion. Several women held secret and public crushes on him and his social media CONSTANTLY reiterated that he was single but to this day I have never seen him with a woman…p.s. he’s still fly.
Ironically the AP that dressed to the teeth had a side kick that did everything in his power to say “Fxck THAT system”. The purpose of an AP or Asset Protection employee is to be as incognito as possible. They are to blend with regular customers to attempt to conceal the fact that they are tracking shoplifters. This AP individual was a heavy set gentleman named Earl. Earl would wear the same striped shirt EVERY DAY he worked with a pair of jeans, busted white tennis shoes and corn rows in his hair.
Maybe this guy had several of the same shirt, maybe he took it home and washed it daily but never the less if I were a shoplifter I would have been able to pick him out of a Wal-Mart Black Friday Crowd if he had that shirt on and I had seen him before! Gentle fellow and very well mannered…..but that shirt was like his super hero costume. It stood out like “Where’s Waldo” and he refused to retire it. Even his Boyz II Men/ Kid & Play/ GQ magazine, potentially “DL” AP counterpart Vick couldn’t talk him out of wearing the shirt. When I left six months later I recall walking through those sliding doors one last time into the world, looking back to wave my final good bye and catching a glimpse of Earl going into the AP office. I only saw the tail of his shirt before the solid metal door closed shut, but I knew it was him.
Back to the Wal-Mart “love” anybody who was anybody was having sex with SOMEONE or WANTED to have sex with someone at the store! It was an endless thirst trap for cashiers and back room stock boys. Like trying to keep a dog in heat from breaking the chain, working a backroom full of young men was RIDICULOUS! If I could not find them they were more than likely outside smoking a cigarette waiting for cashiers to take breaks or on the front end behind registers with cashiers!
It was a joy to be moved to the front end assistant manager position, “if you can’t beat um WHY NOT JOIN UM”. I never exactly loved being in charge of large sums of money especially for a company like Wal-Mart that demanded every dollar of “Save Money Live Better”, but it was better than working in a back room with hot, sweaty, musty, horny men for 12 hours trying to get a truck of 3,000 pieces cleared and on the floor for overnight stock crew in 2 hours. The front end taught me many things, such as WHY THERE ARE ONLY TWO LANES OPEN AT ANY GIVEN TIME!!! It’s because the cashiers DONT COME TO WORK OR HAVE BEEN FIRED FOR NOT COMING TO WORK. P.S. they could also be in the parking lot on the clock making out and rounding second base with a cart pusher.
Never the less wherever they are, it didn’t matter because 8 out of 12 registers had no receipt paper, bags or money anyway! Tried as one of the co-managers named Carrie did to assist me in learning how the front end worked she couldn’t quit figure it out even for herself! Organized chaos was what it was AT ALL TIMES however, she had pull with the front end supports and customer service managers. Carrie was a joy to work with, she was androgenous meaning she often wore male suits and attire, as if she had just been a groomsmen at a wedding. Sometimes she would bop into the store with full suspenders attached to her neatly pressed slacks and dress shoes as if she planned to be the store manager that day…..most days she WAS, due to Raynard needing to smoke or scratch in peace.
She too was a chain smoker and utilized the auto care smoke area to conduct her “off the record” counseling sessions and pep rally’s with numerous employees that had been with the company for years and now threatened to quit. I had decided Carrie was homosexual way before I met her wife that also managed a retail store. I confided in Carrie often when my spouse and I continued to have disagreements, being that my spouse was also a female at the time. I assumed she would understand and give logical advice so it shocked me when she stated she had been having an affair!
My eyes jumped from my sockets since she had literally just had her wife with her in the store that day! She often came to sit in the office and parlay with Carrie and the rest of the managers. She was a nice lady and seemed fun, but Carrie thought their mutual friend was funner. I remember walking to the front end one evening, feet swollen, back aching and mind in knots about how I will get the registers dropped, keep a cashier till we close and get the returns back when I see Carrie, her wife and their friend all smiling gayly, walking together as if nothing is going on. At that moment my life changed, don’t know for the better or worst but I learned a valuable detail about life. “Love truly isn’t everything”.
Same thought I validated when ANOTHER one of the managers admitted to me that he would “bend me over in the backroom had he the chance”. This manager was a nice looking gentleman and often resembled a flight attendant how clean pressed he was with phenomenal posture. I guess I had amazing titts back then because he was the SECOND manager to ask if he could suck my breast! Also a married man it seemed odd that he would even find me attractive in this way being he often referred to me as his “lil sis” in a genuine and sincere way. The last time I heard from him I was pregnant with my son last year, he reached out asking if I was in the area or would ever return. I assured him it was possible however, I was deeply involved as well as PREGNANT! He congratulated me dryly and persisted to remind me of how attracted he was to me and what he would love to do. I allowed the conversation to end.
Many rumors went around about who was sleeping with who, yet it always amazed me when it was confirmed. A manager by the name of Laura was a holy roller. If anyone knew that God was real it was she. A pleasantly plump woman in charge of apparel, I vaguely remember her being the subject of discussion of whether or not she was sleeping with another manager at the store by name of Ricki. Another manager named Marie was from New York and always had her 9 inch nails done in some new ghetto design. She had a large booty and was often the topic of conversation for the backroom boys and other male managers. The flight attendant that had a “hankering for breast milk” often flirted with her and eyed her figure. Their jokes seemed innocent until I realized he WAS THAT TYPE OF DUDE. If they ever actually messed around only they know.
I did not think things could get worst until my father was diagnosed with Leukemia and my world seemed to come crashing to the ground. Nothing and no one made sense but I continued to function out of pure adrenaline. The front end continued to be my biggest burden being that I had no form of training or assistance but then the Devil decided to pile a gaggle of ghetto, immature CSM’s (customer care managers) on my head as a glistening crown of thorns. I distinctly remember three CSM’s that drove me several nights to drink wine and smoke blunt after blunt in my downtown loft. Three in particular by the name of Erica, Samantha and Kimberly made me want to scream.
Kimberly was a goon from jersey, or so she thought. She held a crooked tooth in the bottom front of her mouth and often thought nothing more of her long flowing hair and best feature than to throw it into a ponytail at the crown of her head. Erica had a large butt she often twisted side to side while stroking her latest red lacefront and brightly colored/designer nails. There were others but they for the most part simply worked if they wanted to get paid and called out for homecoming when their PTO was denied. One a bus driver with an affinity for Mickey Mouse, another that adored lime green and often threatened to leave us all high and dry. This I endured along with the knowing that everything I believed I needed was coming to an end.
Samantha was the nino brown of the “wal-mart mafia”, nobody got change or got on a register unless it went through her and she often was the plug when it came to which way the front ends loyalty would move. She was a stocky girl with thick bowed legs and a shoulder length bob. It seemed Samantha and the manager Carrie had to work out deals of some sort for her to do her dang job FOR ME. Samantha clearly had the store on lock from the cash registers to the parking lot, because when I needed someone to come in due to someone else calling out it always seemed to have to go through her, I was convinced she was pissed she wasn’t the front end assistant manager and I had seemingly fell from the sky. This was often the look I received at the stores I worked for in Georgia as well that left me dumbfounded. I guess it was my fault I obtained a degree and applied to Walmart of all damn places!!! Did I look HAPPY TO HELP FOR REAL?! I didn’t shxt on anyones 10 years of service Wal-Mart did! Anyways more of that will be in Part 3.
Even still my determination to be “o.k.” Drove me to great heights. At one point I even began to believe I was trippin and perhaps DID have it together. Things happen and nobody can do a thing about it but suck it up and live. Just when I had come to a new found glory and revaluation that THINGS WERENT SO BAD AFTERALL, a support manager perhaps 19 years old approached me as a teacher would a problem student. Her name was Abby, she dated another support manager at the store by the name of Roger and she and I had usually had decent conversations. “May I have a word with you missy” she stated. Her bleached and colored golden curls bounced joyfully over her shoulders and her studious glasses sat daintily upon the rib of her nose bringing her hazel orbs into focus.
She led me inconspicuously to the customer service area and came to a jolted stop. “I heard you got a little touchy with Roger in the backroom” she started. I couldn’t believe I was now the one being accused of sexual misconduct, I should have known after hearing all the other rumors my day was not far out. I remembered offering Roger a hug one shift after he had asked about the status of my father and his condition while battling cancer. I told her this still aw struck at my luck. Roger was a very black skinned guy with lips that could cipher molasses through a straw! In my opinion she was too pretty for him but never the less they made a cute couple and I have never been the sloppy seconds type. Let alone steal this young girls boyfriend, no matter how out of it I felt. She tapped me on the shoulder as an adult would after listening to my explanations, the way an old man would do a young lad and requested “We keep our hands to ourselves eh?” It was at that moment of getting soned by a college freshman and several moments of re-evaluation after, that I realized perhaps retail just isn’t for me…