Walmart Midwits?

Aesop, over at Raconteur Report has a tale of woe regarding what he calls a “midwit employee” at Walmart unable to ring up a book. Things are not always what they seem.

Confession: In a desperate period I worked at a Walmart. So I have a little insider info on store ops.

Two things to understand. One is that Walmart assumes all employees below the level of department managers are brain-dead meat robots even if proven otherwise. And two, they actively discourage anything resembling initiative.

Aesop wanted to buy a clearance book. It had clearance price sticker, but the sticker wasn’t recognized by the register system. Aesop thinks the cashier was a frickin’ idiot unable to figure out how to input a price.

But here’s a secret. That situation called for an override code to be entered into the register. Almost no one below department manager has the override code. When this happens, it’s full stop, and hope you can get a manager to show up sometime before shift change.

And then hope that the manager remembers how to do it. After the argument with the manager over the item not registering in the system. On one occasion — similar to this — I got lucky and got a manager to show up in 15-20 minutes. Said manager insisted I was doing it wrong, and made me try to scan the item in multiple times. When that failed, the little prick made me manually key in the bar code number multiple times. Yes, that failed, so he called me a fucking idiot, pushed me out the way, and did it all himself.

Multiple fucking times. And it didn’t work. By the time the incredibly patient customer has been waiting close to half an hour, the manager finally admitted the item wasn’t in the system, and reluctantly entered the override.

It took him a couple, three times to get that right.

Sure, Walmart really does have a high percentage of low IQ workers. But cashiers — scary as this might sound — tend to be the brighter ones (check out the overnight stock crew for the real shoulda-been-adjudicated-maybe-have defectives).

Odds are that cashier knew exactly what do. But Walmart not only forbids it, they make it impossible by never giving them the needed security override ability in the first place.

More Wally World fun stories: And another confession. I started at Walmart as a “people greeter’ (do any of the stores still have them?), before I wrangled a transfer to sporting goods. I had no cashier access codes whatsoever (people greeters were about the lowest paid folks in the store; cashiers were paid more). My written duties required me to stay at the door until relieved by a manager for an authorized break.

One Saturday, a manager with just barely enough environmental awareness to realize that only one register was open and lines were backing up to the rear of the store, stormed over to me at the door.

“Why haven’t you opened a register?!”

“Because… I can’t?”

“Damn it, when you see the lines backing up, you open a register! Get over there and open that lane. Turn the light on!”

“But I don’t have…”

“Shut up and open the damned line!”

“Well, if you’re sure about that. I don’t think it’ll turn out well.”

“Open it!” And he stormed off, so proud that he put the stupid meat robot in his place and ensured the efficient operation of the front end.

So, yeah. I stood at the register with the lane light on as ordered. Customers swarmed, and were confused when I did nothing, other than explain to the irate crowd that I had no register codes, and they should take it up with… “You see that tall, fat guy over there? That’s the manager who thought it was a good idea to order someone with no register access to open the lane. Talk to him.”

That was fun. And other than that department manager hating my guts thereafter, there was no fallout, because the store manager was not a complete idiot. He just had low IQ department managers foisted on him.

And even the normal intelligence employees fall back on “active stupid” acts in retaliation. Sometimes customers get caught in the crossfire.

I have plenty more Wally World stories if anyone is interested. It’s a wonder they haven’t gone bankrupt… or to prison for fraud.


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2A advocate, writer, firearms policy & law analyst, general observer of pre-apocalyptic American life.

2 thoughts on “Walmart Midwits?”

  1. I once spent a day working with some Walmartians on a charity project. “Member of Management” was used variously as a joke and a swear word by that crowd. However, they were some of the hardest workers on site that day.

    A few years ago, while he was in school, Son worked there doing second shift stock work. He loved the place. For a while, I was afraid I’d raised a mental defective, but he’s turned out just fine.

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