WTF?! “Walmart is now following you on Twitter!”

November 25, 2010 at 15:55 (Freedoms, Protests and Boycotts, Rambles and Rumbles, Views and Opinions, Voluneering and Community Service, Work and Life)

First of all, let me preface this with the fact that I really don’t “get” Twitter yet.  I’ve tried.  I’ve got an account and all, and even used to make quasi-regular posts to it.  But despite my efforts, I never really “got” it, and pretty much gave up using it.  Granted, I linked it to my (aka this) blog recently, but that was just in some desperate attempt to attain readership and fame (hey, I try to be modest in my life, but I don’t often succeed!  Forgive me there…)

Anyways, I woke up for a second time today as about 1430 (that’s 2:30pm for those you can’t read military time).  No, the second sleep wasn’t cause by turkey-induced lethargy, but rather by pure exhausting at having been up since 5am VOLUNTEERING!  Today is the day of Eagle Ridge Institute’s major fund raiser, our 11th (or maybe 12th, I can’t remember now) annual Turkey Trot Classic.  So when the race was over and my Thanksgiving Day volunteering was done, I tried to sleep just a little more in preparation for Turkey Dinner later today.  Oh, and I had to crawl into bed beside a warm body to simply thaw out from the FREEZING COLD the race was held in today!

So, upon my second rising, I skipped to my computer to see if any real people had sent me an email.  Out of the 18 or so emails I had, none was the responsibility of a human hand directly, but the result of some cold server-computer somewhere who’s human overmasters are determined in getting my “holiday buck” this year.  Yes, 18 emails, and not ONE from a “real” person.  Sad, really.

To my shock (read: disgust, awe, aghast, and disturbance), I was greeting from Twitter with the following email:  “Walmart is now following you on Twitter!”  Pinching myself to ensure I’m still awake and this wasn’t some horrible dream (it hurt, so I was awake), I pondered what on EARTH I could have done to bring the interest of “Walmart”.  Yes, I know it isn’t the “REAL” Wal-Mart of Bentonville, Arkansas – despite their twitter name of “@RealWalmart“.  A cursory view of their tweets told me that obviousness (that, and they are “from” San Fransisco – huh?!).

Then I remembered the conversation I had with my husband yesterday.  While discussing basically unimportant things (like the recent episode of Futurama – Season 2 we had watched on NetFlix), I told him that I had been of recently conducting a voluntary, personal, and basically unstated boycott of Wal-Mart.  (Yes, however.  I am a hypocrite in that I still shop at Sam’s Club – but damn it, I LIKE Sam’s Club’s Pharmacy team!  They remember me, and are nice to me, and make me feel like a person, not just another shopper.  Still, I digress…)

My husband was a little surprised at my personal boycott.  First of all, I think he thinks it’s basically pointless.  My not shopping at W’s won’t really impact much on W’s bottom line.  But I know that, and it’s NOT my point in my boycott.  Over the past few months, it has become more important to me than ever to patronize organizations or companies that 1.) I like, and 2.) who’s business practices don’t disgust me in one way or another.  I’ve never really “liked” Wal-Mart to begin with – I have seen them as a mostly necessary evil in today’s society, and one that can’t easily be avoided, but I’ve never stretched my feelings to say I “liked” them.  Basically, I tolerated them, sort of like I tolerate the Oklahoma State Tax Commission.  Again, not an organization I “like”, but one that is pretty much unavoidable in life.

On the second point, not patronizing companies that have business practices that disgust me in one way or another – allow me to look back into my history.  Almost four years ago, I had a complete mental and emotional breakdown.  The result was that I spent three mandatory days in the “happy house” (aka Saint Anthony’s Inpatient Psychological Ward), followed by several MONTHS of almost daily, intensive out-patient therapy to piece back together my sanity.  I place most (but, honestly, not all) of the blame of my breakdown on the company I was working for at the time – Securitas Security Services, USA.  LOOOOONNNNGGGG story short, my job required me to beg, threaten, plead, and all-but-abuse the employees of that company to help meet the over-demand we had for security guards due to both overcommitment and under-staffing.  If a shift didn’t get covered, it was my fault – no matter what the reason.  I was responsible in screwing any employee I could to get those shifts covered.  This “9-5” job really went on 24 hours a day, seven days a week, because, again, as scheduling manager, in the end, if something didn’t get covered, it was MY ass.

In short, my job was to screw (figuratively) our employees, pressing more hours out of them than they wanted to (or often even COULD) work like a person presses oil out of an olive.  It wasn’t just my JOB, it was my LIFE.  I abused others so that someone else (aka the company and the stockholders) could get rich.  But my own personal morals and ethics would only allow me to go so far to influence a person to work extra shifts for me.  I would ask, beg, plead, but I wouldn’t threaten to fire them, or demote them, or never give them extra hours if they needed them if they said no.  If they said no, I just said okay and moved on to my next victim/employee.  I tried to do the job with a heart, and that was my downfall.

The stress of this all-but-impossible job finally got to me one Monday morning in January.  After being told by a guard that he wouldn’t be in for work that day because HE WAS JUST DIAGNOSED WITH FUCKING CANCER, I had to tell my “boss” (one of two overlords I served) that I simply didn’t have anyone to cover the shift.  Not only was I out of people in general, this site required specialized training, evaluation, knowledge, and more – so I couldn’t put just anyone I had out there.  (Now, don’t get me wrong.  I had known for MONTHS this site was a problem site.  I had begged to have more guards certified to work there, or others hired to work there, or ANYTHING – and my efforts had gone basically ignored.)  None the less, when I told my boss I had nothing, he simply said (in his wonderfully tactless way) “Cover the shift” – which I took to mean come up with SOME poor bastard to do this in a way that won’t make our company lose the contract, or it’s your ass and your job that will suffer.

I snapped.  Driving home from work that day, my biggest concern wasn’t HOW I was going to kill myself, but praying that when I drove my car into a bridge, I wouldn’t accidentally take a vanfull of a family out with me.  The next day, I was checked into the hospital and began to work on my mental recovery of the stress (and abuse and torment) that job had put me through for more than nine months.  It was probably one of the darkest six months of my life – and the hardest psychological relearning to think that I have ever gone through.  In the end, I came out still recovering (which I consider myself to still be today, and always will be – like some kind of addict).  I never went back to work for that company.

All this story leads to this: a few weeks ago, someone I know went through a similar mental breakdown caused by – you guessed it – Wal-Mart.  Knowing that this wasn’t a one-off case, knowing a few more details about the management system at W’s, I decided to make the conscious effort to keep my money and support from such an abusive company.  I knew (and still know) that I’m losing out on the convenience and cost-savings Wal-Mart offers consumers.  I’m also losing out on the selection of items I have to chose from (there were quite a few “Wal-Mart exclusive” items that I really liked and miss).  And I know that such a small-scale boycott won’t really effect W’s bottom line.  But I have the personal satisfaction of doing what I know is right versus simply what is easy.  I’ll gladly take the sacrifices I have to make and miss out on the items and the “savings” so that I will, in the end, feel good about myself and where I chose to spend my money.

So today’s irony of being “followed” by “Walmart” just amuses me.  In fact, I almost feel stalked, lol.  Like they are saying “we’re WATCHING you, you non-WallyWorld person, you!”  It almost makes me feel like I’ve been put on McCarthy’s blacklist.  But, really, it changes nothing for me.  I will continue to shop, as I vote, in accordance to my beliefs.  At the same time, I know that most likely, some of the places I’m shopping at instead of W’s practice many if not all of the same unethical and immoral practices that W’s uses – but I just don’t know about it.  When and if I ever find out, I’ll probably try to stop shopping there too.

I may suffer by spending more and losing convenience by not heading to the Wal-Mart, but what I gain personally knowing that I’m not supporting something that I believe is wrong is far more valuable to me.  Many people dog capitalism in one way or another, but one of its values is that it gives a person power to support or not support a company based on the all-mighty dollar.  For that reason, I chose to use my capitalistic pursuits to spend or keep my money from those who I don’t deem worthy of it.  I work hard for what I get paid, and I think the companies that reap the benefit of my hard work need to earn it.  I don’t think Wal-Mart does, so they can keep their “low, low prices”, and I’ll keep my dignity.

Follow away, Wal-Mart.  Till YOU change, I will try not to.  My money won’t be yours.  It won’t hurt you overall, but it makes me feel better about myself, and that is what matters most to me.  Being true to my beliefs is far more valuable than “rollbacks”.  It’ll cost me more, but it’s a price I’m willing to pay.

Yours in service,

-MK

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2 Comments

  1. Traz-ak said,

    Ah… Two companies that I deplore… Walmart and Securitas. I’m not sure if I ever heard a couple of the details from that day at Securitas… I’m so glad for you that you’ve gotten away from those monsters. And believe me, I’m not calling them that in any sort of facetious sense. It’s a horrible company, and I long for the day that I follow your lead in putting them in the rearview.

    Concerning Walmart… You still should watch The High Cost of Low Prices if you haven’t already. Though, I have a hard time sticking to my own personal boycott of them. I MOSTLY shop elsewhere for everything, but I admit, there are those times, in the middle of the night, when few places are open, and none others are close, I do still go there on occasion for a few things. But apart from that, I’m with you: Solidarity, sister!

    • mousekitty said,

      I did watch Wal-Mart – The High Cost of Low Prices, upon your recommendation. It pretty much verified what I had already known and felt about the mega-giant company. It is a very good movie, and I highly recommend it to anyone who shops at Wal-Mart. Unfortunately, I’m afraid that many other large chain stores share similar practices, but because they aren’t the GIANT (or at least aren’t as giant), their transgressions go somewhat unnoticed.

      On the topic of Wal-Mart, I can’t wait to hear what the Supreme Court decides regarding the class action sexual discrimination law suit against them. I hope they do decide to hear the case and set a precedence for Wal-Mart and other stores (large or small) how how to appropriately treat their employees.

      -MK

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