The last post I made was posted from a miserable hotel room in the middle of nowhere. I spent four days there this week, and four days last week, and that cumulative time was enough to convince me I need to do something else with my life. I was also working overnights, doing work on a Walmart…… unholy triad of evil there. I remain baffled that Walmart stays in business, and I could carry on for a good twelve hours listing all the ways it has worked hard to undermine the American working class. Per my therapist’s recommendation, I’ll stay focused on the now, and on me
I’ve been trying to change the course of my life, after years of working towards a career in public service and mental health, for the past six months I’ve been chasing a career as an electrician. Chasing is the key here, because it definitely feels as though it is running in the other direction. I spent three months doing the wiring for a craft store on a new build. There were problems, but I learned quite a bit, and I feel good about the work I did.
Then came Walmart. Apparently the company I work for owes it’s existence to the awful conglomerate… and I thought, my direct boss is a nice guy, he wouldn’t allow a CLIENT to abuse his employees…. wrong. In the world I come from you can fire a client. Not here, the client owns you, and any delusions of being your own company are washed away when the client makes an unreasonable demand.
That particular demand? We hire a workforce not to work, but to watch us work.
We run scissor lifts high in the air taking down and installing new lights. This is already difficult. Walmart NEVER cleans anything above shelf height…. the store I was just working on was 40-50 years old. You can imagine, or more likely you can’t. Over long periods of time the dirt plus condensation forms a kind of slime. OH, stack on that we aren’t allowed to move any shelves. The lights are planned regardless of shelf layout, meaning at times you have to lean eight feet off your lift to reach a fixture. All of this is not safe, definitely not OSHA approved.
I got disturbed by how often and how proud the people I worked with talked about not being OSHA compliant. I understand safety can be frustrating, but not nearly as much as going to the funeral of a coworker, and wondering if you’ll be next…. maybe I’m catastrophizing.
Anyway, scissor lifts. We are allowed to start a few hours before close, and during the time they are open, we are required to have a team member on the ground for every lift in the air. To protect the customers, I can understand it, it’s almost reasonable. This new manager comes in and says; you’ve always got to have spotters….
Which brings me to the project lead, and self appointed top spotter. He is a 25 year old obese man. I have nothing against the overweight, but this guy is awful and I feel the characterization is important for context. He’s been an electrician for at least five years, but he is still an apprentice. This means that he has sat his exams TWICE and failed, at least. This project was the first one they were giving him to lead…. and that was a mistake. Because the minute he got the word that we needed someone constantly on the ground, he was going to be that guy. The other spotters were going to be his friends, because he lacked sufficient management skill to understand how that destroys a team.
For the past three and a quarter days I watched him, while I busted my ass hanging lights, as he WATCHED HIS PHONE. The only time he didn’t watch his phone he was telling me to go faster…. It makes no sense at all, assuming speed is an issue, and men in the air a limited resource, that you would have your least experienced worker constantly in the air. Then I find out he’s badmouthing me behind my back.
It all came crashing down for me at that point, because I thought it was all my negative view of others, my tiredness from the work, the difficult circumstances. Nope, this guy was legit sabotaging me and those I worked with. I was only doing this stupid thing out of loyalty to my boss, who for complicated reasons couldn’t be on the job site for this job most of the time. I realized that I wasn’t helping anyone, enabling this behavior. So, I walked in, grabbed my tools, and walked out. Then I called my boss, who was actually on site…… and I laid it all out, just like I did to you. He wanted me to go back to work, and I told him I couldn’t under these conditions
I drove back to the hotel, got my stuff, drove home. I’m probably done with this stupid company, and at least for awhile with the career path. It doesn’t pay enough for the sacrifices necessary.
Hopefully something else will come along… but even if it doesn’t, I’ll be okay. I gave my all, and expanded my skillset. It’s on them if that isn’t of value in their silly system.