THE FOLLOWING MAY OR MAY NOT BE A TRUE STORY.
Now I know what you are thinking: two things. Number one, why zombie apocalypse? That’s so overdone right now. Okay, I hear you. Let’s just say it can be any kind of apocalypse: virus attack, mutant overruns, alien colonization. Anything. Except vampires. That is soooooo overdone right now.
But I am going to say heck-with-it and make this story a zombie apocalypse.
Secondly, why a Walmart Supercenter? Why not Target or Kmart or Sears? Well if you see the clientele via a website called People of Walmart, you’ll see that it is corporate policy to make sure zombies head for Wally World instead of the competition. After all, they save you the most on everything. Save Money, Die Better, Walmart.
So if you can believe those two things, then you can believe that Shawn and I actually discussed this in detail once.
“Walmart is the perfect place to stay while the undead rise. You’ve got everything you need there. Food, medical supplies, guns and ammo.”
“And yet,” I said, “You still have to wait twenty-five minutes to get ahold of a manager to unlock the firearms, and even then he’s grumbling under his breath about it.”
So imagine my surprise during overnight hours, when shopping for Pop Tarts, an iPad a Samsung tablet and antifreeze for a boat motor, that the walking dead started attacking human civilization!
A few minutes before, though, at the checkout, I scanned my debit card. ERROR. Scanned it again. ERROR. One more time. ERROR.
“You have to do it a certain way,” my cashier told me, “Hold the card flat against the terminal and bend it back.”
“Do I have to wiggle my toes and whistle ‘Call Me Maybe’ as well?”
Before she could answer, a clatter from inside the vestibule got our attention. At first I thought it might be the beginning of Black Friday, but whew, no, it was only zombies.
“Zombies,” the cashier said, “That’s a relief. At least they won’t ask a hundred stupid questions.”
As you may know, the undead move slow, so the associates and I were able to make a plan. The hero of this saga, Alan, made decisions as leader.
“I want everybody to go back to TLE and grab as many tires as you can, pronto! We’ll block the doors and windows so they can’t come in.”
“Sorry, we’re out of stock on all tires,” the overnight automotive guy said, “And we don’t have a TLE. We actually don’t sell tires at this store either. So technically I’m right.”
“Nuts,” Alan said calmly and then directed, “Okay, let’s all of us go grab a bunch of pallets and place them against the wall.”
“MAKE SURE YOU USE THE PALLET JACKS AND DON’T LEAVE THEM UNATTENDED ON THE SALES FLOOR!” a disembodied voice from the speaker above said, “AND EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE ZOMBIES, THAT’S NO EXCUSE NOT TO USE GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE!”
I helped them stack the pallets in front of the doors. Miraculously enough, the escapees from the cemetery I have previously mentioned hadn’t made it to the doors yet, because they were fascinated by the toy-crane machine.
“WAIT!” Associate David said, emerging from the backroom, “Don’t block it yet!”
“I have to return this movie to Redbox! I’m not going to pay for one more night rental if I can’t see it!”
After Dave returned his rental and had his brain consumed by the horde, the associates and I managed to block access from the front. They kept pounding on the glass, wanting in, their appetites quite insatiable, as if they had just eaten a Stouffer’s Lean Cuisine.
It was the calm in the storm, we sat down and had a moment before we decided to divide up the store supplies. In addition to my share of merchandise, I negotiated an extra pack of Sharpies and a Shake Weight.
While I was grabbing a cart full of lithium batteries in electronics, I noticed the zombies had broken through! En masse, they marched limpingly down the main aisle, carrying with them body parts I could only hope belonged to management personnel. Quickly, I decided to duck into the restrooms, hoping I could escape from there.
The scent of nectarines greeted me inside, my favorite of all smells associated with a Walmart restroom. I looked up at the ceiling tiles… there’s got to be some way out. Some way, any way!
I climbed onto the sink; immediately it collapsed under my weigh and I hit my head on the tile floor.
Assuredly concussed and doomed, I closed my eyes, expecting the inevitable. I wasn’t going to survive this horror story. Outside the doors, I heard the scratching of plaster, the smacking of lips, the guttural gasps of paralyzed but reanimated vocal chords.
But the door never opened. After a few minutes, I heard a “Shhhhhhhhhh…” and things got really quiet. It was a good 45 minutes before my terror abated enough to let my curiosity take over.
I pushed the restroom door slowly, trying not to let it CREEEEEEAAAAAK but it did. My eyes went wide, perspiration dripped from my forehead, and my heart started beating even faster!
There was a line of zombies waiting impatiently as one of them sat at the employment kiosk trying to fill out an application!
Worse yet, a frustrated associate named Jane from the back was trying in vain to help them out.
“It’s asking for a password. Do you remember your password?” Jane asked.
“BWAAAA-RAWR ARRRRURRRGH RAHR,” the job prospect replied.
“No we don’t have your password on file. We’ll have to call I.T.”
“ARRR-WOO RAWR ARRR-WOO?” he asked.
“No I can’t tell you if telemarketing is an acceptable job code in customer service,” Jane said impatiently. With a tsk, she also said, “You can actually apply for a Walmart job at home on the Internet, you know.”
So, I survived that day, if not for my wits, my courage, and the fact that most zombies don’t have a DSL line at home.
But I must caution you, if and when you should decide to shop at Walmart in the future:
Please be nice! I know it’s hard and frustrating at times when you go into the store and you can’t find anything or the floor associate doesn’t seem particularly helpful.
Just remember that in this economy, zombies have to work at Walmart too!
Gimme a “P” “P!” – gimme a “U” -”U!” gimme a “B” “B!” – Yadda yadda yadda – What does that spell? “PUBLIC RESPONSE!” Where is it provided? “IN THE SPACE BELOW!” What do we want to be? “TROLL FREE!” “Woot!”
Creatively, I am going in a different direction starting with the new year, and I intend to bring the DT Log back to what it was pre-Internet, which is updating and entertaining friends.
So this will be the last public DT Log WordPress post.
Some of the things I have learned after two years working in a photo lab:
Studio portraits are unnecessary. – The most stress of this job is trying to convince customers that we as a lab need permission from the photographers to reprint their works. But with a few exceptions, the quality of studio portraiture is very poor. Even when it does pass muster with lighting, clarity, composition, I still find most shots to be sterile, unimaginative and not worth the money. Often, I find candid snapshots more charming and better suited for wall placement.
Some people’s fear of technology cost them hundreds of dollars each year. – I started this job thinking that there was still a use for film in most cases, but now I have come to the conclusion that digital saves a ton of money. To process 27 pictures on film, you have to buy a Single Use Camera for $4-8 and then process in one hour for about $8 if you want just singles. Multiply this by 20 to 30 per year from our frequent shutterbugs and that can be upwards of $200. A simple investment of a Fuji bundle for just $90 and then printing 100 pictures for 15 cents apiece (not including pictures you couldn’t otherwise delete on film), and the savings would be within reach very quickly. Alas, technophobia not just abounds in the baby boomers and up, but a lot of Gen Xers as well.
The Polaroid brand has been run into the ground, and Kodak is headed that way too. – With Tom Petters being found guilty this past week of his company’s Ponzi scheme, Polaroid’s future is very much up in the air. They don’t produce Instamatic film anymore, and their product output is abysmal. Polaroid digital cameras have the worst quality of any national brand, and they break very easily. Once solid in reputation, Kodak is having trouble because of lot of their past business has been selling film. They posted a $137 million loss in 4Q 2008, and started whittling away at their workers due to “plunging sales of both digital and film-based photography products.” Despite friendly yellow boxes and decades-long brand loyalty, their products aren’t very good anymore, and customers are starting to bypass them in favor of Samsung, Sony and Canon.
There is no down time, ever. – Since this is my first experience with retail, there is always something to do. Always. Where once I had a job where I could listen to the radio and leisurely key in office supply orders, this is absolutely, mentally and physically, the hardest job I’ve had to do in my life. And appropriately enough, I don’t make even close the amount of money I did when I was in data entry. Of course the rent in Minnesota is much, much cheaper than California, but it doesn’t feel like an equitable trade-off.
Self-service photo kiosks are designed to be “user-friendly,” but those designers couldn’t possibly know what that means. – Programmers overestimate the ability of the average customer to use their machines. Instead of simplicity, the kiosks are filled with all kinds of confusing twists and turns under a mission of upselling and offering as many choices as possible. So unlike In-N-Out Burger menus, the complexity of the touch-screen options actually mean we lab workers are spending more time walking our customers through orders. We’re not supposed to “order for them,” so guiding the average first-time user (and there are hundred of them each month), means we fall behind in our other lab duties.
The one-hour photo is the wackiest place in any store, so naturally I fit in. – Photo is the landing place for quirky personalities due to the intense interaction with machines and customers. On one hand, the routine is very right-brained, and you follow a rigid to-do list that is more science than art. Once aforementioned customers have problems on the kiosks, we must do a mental 180 and teach using our left brains. Couple that with the physical stress of being on our feet all day, we are exhausted by day’s end. So gregariousness, joking around and loud, amusing proclamations are the hallmark of the ideal photo worker’s personality. And since we know the names of our customers, those wacky customers often congregate and join in the absurdity. I suggest if you ever wanted free entertainment, go to your nearest discount or grocery store on a busy day and watch the lab work.
Hope this was an entertaining one year-point-three-three of DT Log on WordPress.
See everybody on the other side of the decade on FA.
Ascent: August 30, 2009.
Mark Ness, one of two people to successfully highpoint all the counties in the state of Minnesota, called Crow Wing County’s summit “one of the most remote in the state.” He is very right about that. There is virtually no chance of driving right up to it. The way to claim the high point is to trudge through the woods and sidestep the swamps.
It was daunting for my first county highpoint, but I had to do it, since Crow Wing is my home county.
Dug up from The Book of Lists 2:
In his book The Shadow Presidents, author Michael Medved relates the extreme disappointment of H. R. Haldeman over his failure to implement his plan to link up all the homes in America by coaxial cable. In Haldeman’s words, “There would be two-way communication. Through computer, you could use your television set to order up whatever you wanted. The morning paper, entertainment services, shopping services, coverage of sporting events and public events… just as Eisenhower linked up the nation’s cities by highways so that you could get there, the Nixon legacy would have linked them by cable communications, so you wouldn’t have to go there.” One can almost see the dreamy eyes of Nixon and Haldeman as they sat around discussing a plan that would eliminate the need for newspapers, seemingly oblivious to its Big Brother aspects. Fortunately the Watergate scandal inteverened, and Nixon was forced to resign before “The Wired Nation” could be hooked up.
A very prescient article, because it seems like Haldeman’s plan to wire up the nation has come to fruition.
It comes from author David Wallechinsky’s list 6 OUTRAGEOUS PLANS THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN. And while Wallechinsky laments the “Big Brother aspects” of such a technology, he couldn’t foresee the ability of users to be able to communicate freely with one another while the rest of the media becomes consolidated into a huge corporatocracy.
To think we could have had something like Fark 20 years earlier.
For years and years, and many viewings, it took me until LAST YEAR to be able to parse the differences of Brian Johnson’s letter from the beginning of the movie The Breakfast Club, and his final draft.
Each of us… each of us.
EACH OF US!
I’ve seen John Hughes’s movie at least 25 times [it was one of my sister's VCR tapes on heavy rotation], and yet the subtly of this escaped me. The point of the entire movie. What happened? Did I see it when I was too young and then I only paid attention to the off-color jokes upon repeated viewings? Did I just zone out as soon as Simple Minds’s “Don’t You Forget About Me” started playing behind John Bender’s triumphant fist-pump under the football crossbar?
A great, great screenwriter… John Hughes… disarming us with laugh-out-loud humor, and then reeling us in like a guffawing big-mouth trout to absorb the drama underneath. Someone who was an example for me as I tried in the mid-90s to be as prolific as I could putting stage direction and dialogue to page on my Commodore 128.
He holds the record for fastest time writing a screenplay: 2 days for Weird Science.
Two days! 120 pages?! Most writers only crank out 2-3 pages a day if they work 8 hours at it. I can imagine John at his typewriter, right next to a percolating Mr. Coffee. Pounding away for hours and hours and coming up with the funniest lines in movie history, establishing the smart-ass teenager movie as a genre, letting the caffeine help transcribe the movie in his head.
I finished my first screenplay in 8 days back in 1994 – Night on the Edge. I thought to myself… wow, this is great. I can do one of these a month! So many ideas! I’ll have a stack of scripts by the end of the year!
Well, that proved to be an exception. As a matter of fact, the most recent script I completed took 12 years!
I don’t think I could have matched the frenzy of completing The Breakfast Club in 3 days, or the week spent on the first draft of Mr. Mom. His scripts, all comedies poked with sentiment, and done the right way – National Lampoon’s Vacation, Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink,
and my favorite Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, where the most lasting moment is when Cameron closely examines the famous pointilist painting by Georges Serrault, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte: it is an illusion made up of millions of dots.
John Hughes gave spirit, humor and intelligence to his teenage characters, and it is sad that he should die at the young age of 59 – influencing some great screenwriter-directors like Judd Apatow and Kevin Smith, (me too, maybe, someday?) With the whirlwind of my life as a teenager, I probably figured out way too late [into my 30s!] that I was a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal.