Last Saturday, I stepped into my old Walmart to grab a few things. It was past 2100–9 PM for those of you not used to the 24 hour clock–so the store was quiet. Almost too quiet. There were no screaming children or shouting parents, no teenagers shouting “Marco!” “Polo!” as they wandered the store in search of their friends, no annoying overhead pages, asking for various departments or their managers and associates. It was almost dream-like quiet within the building, an oddly unsettling sensation, just as unsettling as the remodel of the store itself. Or the fact that every associate I saw, I did not recognize.
It felt as though I remembered the store, but it didn’t remember me.
On one hand, it makes perfect sense: retail is fickle. Turnover rates are sky high and rare is it that someone has the wherewithal to tough out that sort of job for more than a few months, let alone a year or more. Retail takes a lot out of a person and rarely gives anything back; you have to have a lot of patience–or a high tolerance for humanity–in order to survive it. It doesn’t surprise me in the least that most of my coworkers from there decided to move on in one way, shape or form. I can’t say that I blame them. For the amount of work you perform, the pay just isn’t worth it in the end.
It does make the store feel empty, though. Empty not only on a physical but also an emotional level. The building feels utterly empty. I don’t know how to describe it. But there’s nothing there anymore. It’s a part of my past that happens to be a blank now, an empty space. On one hand, I miss it; there were some great people who worked there. On the other, I’d never want to go back there. I remember just how badly I was treated by management and how they wanted to get rid of me. I remember the less-than-friendly coworkers who either gossiped about me or started rumors about me to get me into some sort of trouble. I remember the CSMs who treated me like I was little more than dirt on the bottom of their shoes. I remember the managers who demanded that we be friendly to the customers but never said hello to any of us. I remember being written up for telling jokes and sitting next to people in the break room. That’s something I’d never want to go through ever again.
Maybe it’s best to leave that Walmart safely and blankly behind me, like so many other things. It will always be a part of me but thankfully, I’m no longer a part of it.