Ramblings of a Nutbar

You’ll probably regret this.

Walmart – Devil in a blue box.

Okay, I’ll preface this by saying I’m a capitalist. Big Time. I am all for making money. I think money is a wonderful thing, and having it eliminates many problems (albeit creating a few of it’s own). That being said, I find myself becoming more and more disgusted at Walmart as I get older.  The reason is that too much of anything, even capitalism, can be terrible. Making money is great, but doing so at the cost of American jobs and the lives of innocents is another.

Lives? You mean you didn’t hear about it? Friday, during the “Black Friday” rush, a temporary maintenance worker at a Walmart was killed by the mob of shoppers standing in line for all the stupid crap they didn’t even need. If this doesn’t upset you, I don’t know what will.

Reading other posts out there in the blogosphere, I know that if I let this sit without explaining further, I would get piles of “It’s not Walmart’s fault!” comments (that is, if I were popular enough to gather comments), but most anyone who has ever worked in a retail environment, as I have, knows the truth.

Corporately-operated busnesses are eternally attempting to cut costs and maximize profit. In and of itself, this practice is a great thing – I wish more corporations would do this with their multi-million earning C level execs for example. But the downside to cutting costs is that you usually have to sacrifice something. Apparently Walmart sacrificed security.

In this case, the police had warned Walmart well enough in advance that the crowds would be tremendous, as if common sense doesn’t dictate that in a recession with the highest unemployment rates in years that maybe more people than usual will show up to save money. Walmart was asked by the police to have adequate security staff on hand to open the store.

What did Wally World do? Did they have two or three security guards standing at the door to push back the crowd while the doors were being unlocked? That sounds like a sensible idea to me. But sadly for Jdimytai Damour, this didn’t sound like a good idea to Walmart.

No, instead of using common sense and having as many security officers flanking the entrance as possible, they had a great cost-cutting idea. Security guards cost a lot more than most everyone else working at the store level. Why, for the cost of three of four security guards, you could hire a whole fleet of maintenance guys. And why would you need a whole fleet of maintenance guys, when one will do nicely? So they assigned the role of unlocking a door with thousands of tired, cranky, mob shoppers on the other side to one lowly maintenance guy. A temp worker at that. I imagine his personnel file probably had “Expendable” stamped on it in big blue letters with an “always” and yellow smiley underneath it. I’m sure fellow Star Trek enthusiasts are wondering if they actually gave him a red shirt before sending him to his doom, or if they just expected him to know he wouldn’t be returning from this away mission.

I’ve worked in a lot of retail and hospitality environments. An established business, especially one such as Walmart should have known better. Working in the hotel industry, we always hired on lots of extra security during special events. When I was working at my last job, security always opened the doors, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Walmart’s quest to save money, maximize profit, and cut corners is the direct cause of this man’s death. Had he been a security guard, I would have been less incensed, but he wasn’t, and he should NOT have been the one opening that door.

And of course there’s the other stuff, like the way that Walmart has left Sam Walton’s “buy American” approach, and embraced selling cheap foreign garbage, or their unethical business practices in employee treatment (I had a friend back in my hometown who got fired for requesting a few days off – to go to a funeral!), etc, but you get the point.

The saddest thing is that I’ll probably wind up continuing to shop at Walmart, because frankly, there’s nobody else in the area that has the same selection at prices we can afford while I’m busy being unemployed. So really, I’m just whining.

And because I don’t think the shoppers are completely guiltless either, here’s a great video by Peter Coffin:

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December 1, 2008 - Posted by | My Random Thoughts | , , , ,

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