Saturday, February 27, 2010

Completed Day 2 of Work

I was way too tired yesterday when I got home to write anything so I will discuss both days now -- they were essentially the same anyway.

We had our initial orientation in the break room and at about 0900 the daily store meeting happened around us. I had heard that all Walmart employees do a special cheer as part of their team building but I didn't expect to be a part of it. I don't know about other stores but our store does the cheer. Every morning.

The history of this store is short which is a positive, really. It will have been open 2 years in July. The manager has been with the company for 13 years -- since he was in high school -- and has worked his way up to having his own store. He is young, enthusiastic, respectful to his employees, and follows the rules, as far as I can tell. Morale seems to be good though there is the standard whining and a little bit of negativity. There are only 78 people employed at the store so everyone knows each other (or will once we last 3 have met everyone).

Walmart has training down to such a science; it warms my efficient heart. They use a Computer Based Learning (CBL) system and you are assigned modules based on your job definition. That means that I had training in produce processing, etc. while my co-newbies Reggie and Stacey had training in cashiering and Over the Counter Drug stocking, respectively. Of course, we also had common modules such as Sexual Harassment, FMLA, etc. etc. As new processes come out new modules are written and assigned to each employee and we are responsible for logging into the system and checking for pending CBLs.

The first 3 days are set aside to complete the CBLs (approximately 25 of them) but it is encouraged that you complete them sooner than that. I started them after lunch yesterday and finished them today at about 1:15. It gave me brain-drain but it also meant that I got off work early today because my trainer didn't work today and there was nothing else for me to do.

So tomorrow I will be in produce learning my job. Joe is my trainer and he seems both nice and competent -- anyone who knows me knows that the competence matters more to me than the nice.

Oh, and time clocks have changed considerably since my last exposure to them (in 1980). I love technology.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Health Care Reform

We went shopping yesterday for my uniform and I really enjoyed it. This is an outfit I would wear normally, really. Well, I prefer a skirt to pants but khaki skirt/pants with a colored shirt is right up my alley. I also found a green hoodie to match since I figure that I will be in and out of a refrigerated space and I don't want to cover up my outfit with the wrong colored jacket.

Today we did a couple of things. The reason Ed is going up North is to help with butchering the pigs that our friend has been raising (one for each family). For any Vegans or for those who don't want to know where their meat comes from I won't go into any details but once the pork is off the bone it has to be bagged for storage. That's where my part of the work would have come in and that's what my handy-dandy FoodSaver is for. Since I won't be there, Ed will have to help Darryl butcher and then do the bagging and sealing himself. Michele, Darryl's wife, may be able to help him though she will be doing all of theirs so may not have time.

To assist him with that I made bags in advance out of all the rolls of FoodSaver bags we have so that he doesn't have to do that first. This way he will only have to place the meat in the bag and press on the vacuum/seal button. It's actually kind of fun to play with this thing and I also vacuum packed the steaks he brought home while I was doing this.

Since this doesn't require all of my attention I have been watching the Healthcare debate while sealing bags. It is wonderfully illuminating. There will be no deal, that's all I can see from this. Reconciliation is the only answer now and I wish that the public option was going to be the way we go.

We have 2 cats; Marty and Sammmy (Samantha). Marty enjoys going outside and for awhile I was letting him out with me when I smoked on the front porch. We have a courtyard and he didn't seem to want to leave it so we were both happy...until he actually jumped the courtyard wall one night and I had to cut him off. During Ed's shopping trip today I asked him to get harnesses for both cats so that we can let them out again on a leash. Getting the harnesses on the cats was very, very interesting. Marty adjusted quite nicely and has been outside with me already. Samantha, though, has not adjusted well and is still slinking around the house as if she has a brick on her back. It's pretty funny. I am going to take her outside next to see if she enjoys it. They really have no choice about it but I like to act as if they do.

Tomorrow morning is my first day of work so I will try to enjoy this evening. Bummed that Project Runway isn't new this week but it's for the best since I have to get up so early tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Employed? Yes I am.

I start orientation this Friday at 8:00 AM. I will have a uniform (and what does it say about my parochial school childhood and military adulthood that I am pleased as punch to have one?) that I have to buy. I will be wearing a green polo shirt and khaki pants with tennis shoes. The manager was quite apologetic that I have to buy the shirt since they are about to change that policy and will eventually be giving each employee two official green shirts to wear but until then I have to supply my own. I have no problem with that; I haven't been clothes shopping in so long that I am excited to get to buy something new!

The sad thing is that I won't be able to go on a trip to Northern Arizona that Ed and I planned for this weekend. He will go without me so I will be taking the bus to my first day of work. I won't be able to see the snow or the friends we planned to stay with up there but Ed will let them know I wanted to come. I certainly missed a lot of fun trips while working my old job so this isn't even unusual for me.

Ed and I are both thinking of this as an adventure. He agrees that it will be fun to find out what it's like to work in a grocery store and that the physical part of the job will be good for me. I won't stop looking for work more in my area of expertise or wage range but this is definitely better than sitting on the couch getting angry over the latest ridiculous statement made by some fundamentalist in Virginia

Job offer

I just got the call that I passed my drug screen and background check and I will be going in today to be given my job offer and get scheduled for orientation, etc.

So I am actually going to do this thing. I hope to be able to do the job well, regardless of pay, and that I will be respectful of all of my coworkers, bosses, and the customers. This will be a good way for me to work on my prideful nature, which is one of my serious downfalls.

My challenge in writing about this will be doing so without trying to spin it to make me look better than reality might show is the truth. Of course, only I will know if I am succeeding and I would hope that my desire for truth will force me to write accurately.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Off topic

The big news today is that Tiger made a statement about his issues. Ed (husband) and I watched but there wasn't anything surprising in what he said. I am sure the news shows will go on and on about it but there just isn't anything else to say about him, his wife, or his kids. Leave them alone, is all I can say.

Meanwhile, my state (Arizona) is controlled by the republican party and has managed to out-do themselves with truly ridiculous legislature. They voted for free hunting and fishing for Eagle Scouts but refused to add Gold Medal Scouts (the Girl Scout's equivalent). There is a bill to increase the wait time for divorce, a bill that will require all candidates for the president to prove their citizenship for Arizona elections, one to change the federally mandated minimum wage for those 18-22 to 75% of the minimum...and it goes on and on. Meanwhile, they have not finished balancing the budget for this fiscal year. Insanity in my home state.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The beginning

Without going into the details of why, I will start by saying that I find myself unemployed during the worst recession in my lifetime (I am 51). I have now been unemployed almost five months and have had no success in getting a job in any of the fields I have previously worked (and for which I was well qualified and well paid). With multiple degrees and various certifications, and having applied for every job that met my salary requirements, I have had only three interviews and no job offers.

I believe strongly that all able-bodied people should work for a living and I would only ask for assistance from the government if it was the difference between my children eating or not*. My kids are all adults now and taking care of themselves, and though my husband and I are definitely stressed over my lack of income, we not only wouldn't qualify for assistance, it is against my nature to ask. *It should be noted that I am not opposed to government aide for those who need it.

I do not believe there is any job that is "beneath me" so when my son challenged me to apply at Walmart I had to take him up on it or explain why not. This is a journal of that experience. Do I think I am unique in that I am willing to do a minimum wage job for which I may be over-educated and over-qualified (though in reality I have absolutely no experience in retail so am completely unqualified)? No. Do I think many people are actually doing it? I don't know. I don't even know yet if I have the job so this may end before I even begin.

Yesterday I had an interview at a Walmart Neighborhood Store (grocery store). I was interviewed by three people and was told that if I pass my drug screen and my criminal background check I will be offered a job in the produce section. The hiring manager is aware that I have no experience at this but that I am willing to learn and work hard. I will be told my hourly wage when/if I agree to take the job. It is part time, which was explained to me will be from 16 to 33 hours a week. I will have no benefits. He did note that if a full time position opens it is possible for me to move into it.

This morning I submitted my urine for a drug screen and I found it fascinating. The technology used by the clinic was awesome and the safeguards to ensure that my urine wasn't tampered with were well done while still leaving me my dignity. The testing itself was started via instrumentation while I watched and the results were then automatically emailed to the Walmart manager via the instrument's software within 30-40 minutes. Very nice system and I wondered how expensive it was. Being a Navy veteran, I have done my fair share of drug screens but this is the first as a civilian and the first in which I didn't have someone actually watch me urinate. Seriously awesome experience.

Because I don't drive and my husband was at work, I took the bus to the clinic for the drug screen. The clinic is just across the street from the Walmart so the bus trip was a good way to confirm that I can get to work via the bus if necessary. It was a nice trip; had my kindle so I wasn't bored and there was only one transfer. It took about 30 minutes to get there. Getting out of the house was rather refreshing.

I am looking forward to working at the Walmart Neighborhood Store in the produce section and will update when there is new information.