I’m a Monster



One man. Two boys. Twelve kids.

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85 Responses

  1. Avatar NewDealer says:

    Quinoa is tasteless.

    I don’t think Wal-Mart is inherently evil. I probably would not shop there for a variety of reasons but I am not going to get high and mighty on people that do unless they said something like “I shop at Wal-Mart because they pay their employees shit and treat them horribly.”

    That being said, they are in countless stories about horrible pay and other bad labor practices and if you need to host a food drive for your employees it is a clear sign that you are not paying them enough.


    There are better places for me to spend my money like CostCo for bulk purchases.

    I’m sympathetic to the idea of political heresies because I have a few. Based on an unscientific study of facebook posts and others, I am supposed to really like upworthy stories. I find them mawkish and the hyperbole used to sell them gets on my nerve. I’d like a moratorium on the use of phrases like mindblowing. I also have a feeling that I am supposed to care about girls in tech and engineering and make posts about encouraging my hypothetical daughters to go into tech and engineering. As an unrepentant arts and humanities person, I don’t really quite care and think the STEM STEM STEM mantra is overrated as a cure-all.

    If I have daughters and they are deeply interested in science, I will do everything and anything to encourage and support their interests. But I’m not going to say “instead of drawing, why don’t you look at physics or engineering” because of some political belief.

    Now watch the Internet descend on me.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      The Internet thumps, ND. It thumps in your general direction.Report

    • Avatar dhex says:

      “Quinoa is tasteless.”

      unlike upworthy, it most certainly is not. you just gotta treat it right. kitchn has some good recipes.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        I’ve not yet had an experience recommending quinoa as in any way qualitatively superior to rice. And rice is both more affordable and easier to find.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        I don’t think I’ve actually had quinoa.

        But its classification as a “pseudocereal”, and my memories of the great Couscous Con of some years back, make me doubt that I am missing too much.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        Quinoa just takes on the taste of whatever you put with it. It’s a mostly a chameleon albeit a healthy grain like chameleon that adds mass to the plate.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        Couscous con?

        Fwiw, I don’t love quinoa, though I’ve had good quinoa dishes. I just couldn’t pass off making a “grass-fed quinoa” joke.Report

      • Avatar dhex says:

        all things being equal i would probably pick rice over quinoa but if you can get it on sale (and properly rinse it at least three times) it’s a nice, nutty, hearty replacement grain or psuedointellectualcereal or whatever.Report

    • Avatar zic says:

      Quinoa’s not a ‘grain,’ which are members of the wind-pollinated grass family. It’s related to beats and pigweed; it has a flower, and it’s pollinated by insects. The ‘grain,’ really the seed, is the most compact and complete source of protein available in the vegetable kingdom. When the Spanish were looking to subjugate South America, they did their best to wipe out the indigenous quinoa populations; the basic necessity of life; even more important to the diet than corn. Of the four food staples — corn, squash, beans, and quinoa, quinoa is the only one that did not take hold and become major food of Europe; and when you also add in potato, and tomato, chocolate, and peppers, it becomes more clear that silver and gold were not the only thing driving the conquistadors.

      Quinoa’s flavor/blandness depends on the variety; the more colorful cousins have a bit more flavor. I like it cooked in stock, like a pilaf. I often take a cue from those fine Indian cooks (not of this continent, but the land of spice) and treat quinoa as a dal; cooking it in coconut milk with spices appropriate to the balance of the meal, and maybe some allium, peppers for flavor/heat/color.

      That it is unavailable in WalMart has more to do with supply; it’s not easy to grow in N. America and much of what is available is still imported from South America; though there it is grown successfully in Colorado. Most of the US, the climate’s not quite right; too wet in some places, too arid in others; and where it does grow well, the infamous pigweed grows even better; and they both fruit at the same time. Harvesting is also a challenge; though I’ve heard of some farmers using millet head on a harvester/thresher.

      Quinoa is a particularly valuable food for vegans and for vegetarians who don’t care for beans; or haven’t bothered to learn enough about food combinations that provide all the amino acids necessary for good health (think brown rice and beans or chick peas and sesame seed type combos.)

      Deriding a food this valuable, a food that was nearly wiped out in an attempted genocide/subjugation doesn’t do much to make a good case defending Wal-Mart; but it may suggest opinions formed on lack of information about quinoa as a food and it’s history, and Wal-Mart’s current practices that seem bent on conquering the world and bringing about some lowest-common-denominator global living standard then what most folk would, until recently, consider American middle class.Report

  2. Avatar morat20 says:

    The Walmart around here has really…slipped. It was never exactly high-class shopping, but lately it’s like nobody’s even trying.

    Target or Amazon works better for me.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      I was pleasantly surprised at how nice the Walmart by me was.

      Growing up, we didn’t have any around. We had Walgreens, and I just sort of assumed those were the same thing. In college, a friend and I drove out to Quincy from Brighton to see what all the hubbub was about. “It’s a SUPER store!” we were thinking. Upon arrival, we quickly learned otherwise.

      From there, my own bit of elitism crept in and it was a place I looked down upon. Target was okay, in a pinch, but Walmart? Ugh. Our first visit there… which I wrote about earlier… further turned me off. Seeing a family with young children roam the aisles at 1am, eating fried chicken and dropping the bones on the floor, was none too pleasant. And watching the “sandwich artist” at the Subway housed inside the Walmart cough into the lettuce was the nail in the coffin.

      But, in reality, it’s quite nice. I’ve never really bought food there, but the produce section looked ample and fresh… nicer than some regular super markets. Any employee I interacted with was very helpful. The main complaint I have is the 900 checkout stations, of which only 3 are open at any given time.

      To me… its the people of Walmart that give me the heebie jeebies. And I’m pretty sure that that makes me a monster.Report

      • Avatar Roger says:

        I basically agree, Kazzy. The stores are dirty, the parking lots are clogged and the employees don’t seem to want to help.

        I now prefer Target, and I used to hate them back when I worked for/with them. ( I was never a Target employee, but I used to spend all my free time doing their inventory control back in college).Report

    • Avatar Shazbot11 says:

      This can happen with some medium or high end bigger department stores, too. Some of them just fall to crud.

      But Walmart is so bare bones, that when it gets dirty, or not stocked properly, or whatever, it looks like the zombie apocalypse.Report

  3. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    For lots of stuff, price is the only consideration. That’s why there’s Wal-Mart.Report

  4. Avatar Squeelookle says:

    Please appear this time comment?

    I’m not going to tell you you’re a monster but I consider shopping at Walmart and making their economic model of employee abuse to be the moral equivalent of not tipping at a restaurant and I’d ask you to consider the moral costs of your slightly-cheaper items due to wage depression and mistreatment of workers. I’ve worked for that hellhole and I wish more people hadn’t shopped there and had told them over and over that sweatshop conditions are not acceptable.

    We get worked up over kids in sweatshop overseas making Nike shoes yet Americans aren’t willing to stand with the abused workers of the Walton brand hellholes and sweatshops here at home.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      Do you think the folks working at the Carter’s outlet are making that much more?

      My wife took a seasonal job at Pottery Barn because she wanted to take advantage of the employee discount after we bought our home. If she was paid more than minimum wage, it was only slightly so.

      I realize there is more to it than just wages, but I would be surprised to learn that the lot of the Walmart employees is drastically different than that of the outlet employees across the highway.Report

      • Avatar Squeelookle says:

        I don’t know about the wages. I know the working environment is better at Carter’s and I know from talking to the women working at the one I used to get baby clothes at that they get the hours they need and don’t play the game of overhiring staff numbers and then giving people too few hours to make ends meet.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        So now the problem is Walmart hiring too many people, is it?Report

      • Avatar Squeelookle says:

        None of the employees at Carters are making so little from their employment that they have to be on food stamps.Report

  5. Avatar Chris says:

    I basically live across the street from the bourgiest Walmart on the planet. I shop there almost every day. I know a lot of the employees, because it’s never busy (except on Sunday evenings, because my whole neighborhood apparently does their shopping on Sunday evenings) and, as I said, I’m there almost every day. I don’t feel evil for shopping there. I don’t think they think I’m evil for shopping there, even though they’ve talked to me a bit about the way they’re treated. I wouldn’t mind having another place to shop right across the street as an alternative (I stop at HEB once a week to get real food), but c’est la vie.Report

    • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

      You live in Austin and you shop at Walmart?…

      Why don’t you just move to Round Rock or Pflueggerville, heretic!Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Nob, it’s that or HEB. I do some shopping at the little grocery store that’s actually closer than Walmart (and my girlfriend jokes that if I were any closer to Walmart, my address would be Walmart), but their selection is extremely limited, and their prices are pretty steep. But they have Boar’s Head hotdogs, and I love those hotdogs.Report

  6. Avatar Squeelookle says:

    Help please? It says my comment is in moderation?Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:


      I attempted to email you but it appears you used a fake email address. As such, I’m limited in communicating with you beyond the scenes. However, I will say that I’ll approve your comments that are in moderation but would appreciate if you didn’t submit them multiple times. I don’t know what the moderation glitch is but will do my best to approve that which I can. But I’d like to avoid filling the thread with comments ABOUT moderation.

      If you submit your next comment with a working email address, I can discuss more with you.Report

      • Avatar Squeelookle says:

        I was told by Mr Truman that the only thing I could do was keep trying to submit.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        Understood. What I am saying for my posts is that I will push through any comments stuck in moderation ASAP but am not going to push through multiple comments that are essentially identical.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        The problem with simply releasing comments from moderation is that a lot of them are going directly to the spam folder. So re-submissions are probably the most reliable way to get them through, absent private email notifications (ie Sque sends Kazzy an email and Kazzy sifts through the spam folder and finds them). Obviously, when comments go through multiple times, just release one of them.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        Duly noted. Squee, submit away and I will approve the first one I come across unless a latter one adds sufficiently to the former.Report

      • Avatar Squeelookle says:

        You might have my email now. Thank you for looking.Report

  7. Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

    I keep hearing about Wal Mart stores that are understaffed with dreadful customer service and empty shelves (e.g., ND’s link), and then Kazzy and Chris talk about their local Wal Marts being “surprisingly nice” and “bourgeois.” My Wal Mart is…neither. It’s just what Wal Mart’s traditionally been.

    I don’t really like shopping there, though. Big box stores with crowded aisles give me the heeby jeebies, a sense of claustrophobia. I will, but it’s usually only after I’ve hit the other places (well except KMart…our KMart really sucks; it’s got a kind of 1970s oil-price boom recession kind of feel; I almost expect to see Mr. Brady standing outside trying to persuade me to let him design a house for me).Report

    • Avatar Shazbot11 says:

      Yeah, it hurts my mind to shop in some big places. The light is a big part of the problem.

      But everybody’s favorite place, Costco, is my absolutely least favorite place to be in. Give me Walmart or Target or whatever over Costco. “Know ye who enter here: Abandon all… help, any hope of finding what you need, not taking five hours in line, etc.” All to save three cents when you buy 700 pounds of Bandaids.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      The Walmart here is weird, though I assume not completely unique, in that it ended up caving to a long list of demands made by area residents: it’s smaller than most Walmarts, it’s surrounded by smaller businesses, some local, within its shopping center (which would have been entirely Walmart if the neighborhood hadn’t protested), it’s not open 24 hours, its parking lot has restrictions, and so on. The upshot of this for neighborhood residents is that it’s small enough that no one would go out of there way to go there, particularly since there’s another, full-sized Walmart just a couple miles from here, so pretty much everyone who goes there lives nearby, and many if not most of the people who work there are neighborhood people too. People are just nicer to their neighbors, I’ve found. It’s also new and clean (it’s only about 4 years old). The rest of the Walmarts in Austin, with maybe one exception, can be pretty miserable places to shop, especially when they’re busy.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        Sometimes such demands can be reasonable (traffic effects, for example), and sometimes they’re just a form of snobbery. But either way, sometimes it’s just good business sense to go along with them. I imagine there being a full-size store nearby had something to do with that decision on Wal Mart’s part.Report

      • Why wouldn’t residents want the store to be open 24 hours? As a consumer, I would like the convenience of a nearby store open all the time. Granted, you do say there’s another Walmart nearby that is open 24 hours.

        Sadly, I do fear one answer might be that it’s bone thrown at the fabled and oft venerated “LOCALLY OWNED SMALL BUSINESSES” who don’t want compete on the hours. But I don’t know that from what you wrote.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Pierre, mostly because of the traffic, I gather. I didn’t live up here when the battle was under way, so I didn’t attend any of the meetings.

        The Walmart moving here but not taking up the space they had planned has resulted in the neighborhood thriving. Since I moved here it has become one of the hottest neighborhoods in Austin, all sorts of stores and restaurants have opened in the space that would have been taken up by Walmart, and there’s actually a nightlife up here now. Hell, were I so inclined I could eat out every night for more than a month and not eat at the same place twice, just with the places that I can walk to in under 10 minutes. A few of those places were here before (notably the burger joint used in Dazed and Confused), but most of them have moved to the neighborhood in the last 2 years, and several just in the last 6 months.

        Off the top of my head, within a 5 minute walk from my apartment there are now 7 burger joints, 6 sandwich shops, 4 Chinese restaurants, 1 Tai restaurant, 2 Vietnamese restaurants, 1 Japanese restaurant, 1 Persian restaurant, a steak house, 2 frozen yogurt shops, 3 coffee houses, 2 bars with good food (one with excellent food), a salad restaurant, two pizza joints, a doughnut shop, an Alamo Drafthouse (OK to good food, with movies and alcohol), 2 Indian restaurants, a Noodles and Company (whatever that is), a breakfast restaurant, a kabap place, and 4 Mexican/Tex-Mex restaurants. About 2/3 of those moved in in the last 3 years, and almost all of it because Walmart opened up there and revitalized the area.

        Then (still within a 5 minute walk) there are a couple toy stores, sports and outdoor stores, 3 or 4 gyms, yoga, a diet place, a giant comic book store, a giant camera store, a bridal store, maybe 10 furniture stores, and maybe 50 other stores, some chains, some local, about half of which have moved in over the last 3 years, again because Walmart opened up. They didn’t just build a store, they built a shopping center, which caused other stores to move in, which caused more stuff to move into the surrounding shopping centers, which caused some of those shopping centers to expand, and so on.

        I’m sure there are still some anti-Walmart people who are pissed that they moved in, but those people are insane.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Alamo Drafthouse

        [Steaming with envy.]Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:


        Wal-Mart is the first big chain that I’ve heard as being open 24 hours. One of the things I miss about New York is the lack of 24 hour places. There might be a few in SF but not many. In New York, many bodegas (corner stores) are open 24 hours. Many diners are open 24 hours, etc. In SF, the corner stores in my neighborhood are 8 AM-10 PM operations. I’ve never needed a 3 AM corner store run but it sounds like a good thing if necessary. I fondly remember late night trips to the 24 hour diner in college.*

        *This was in Poughkeepsie, not NYC. I also remember being annoyed by people standing around and dithering about going to the diner or not and just going to my room to crash.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        I lived around the corner from a West Side Market when I was in Manhattan, which was open 24 hours. I had to cross just one street to get there. Doing the whole “bachelor pad” thing, there were at least two occasions where I showed up in my pajamas/bathrobe and slippers to purchase toilet paper at 3am. I probably would have been written off as the neighborhood loon had I not been 24 and healthy-looking. Also, the UWS was full of far more legitimate loons.Report

      • Avatar dhex says:

        “I’ve never needed a 3 AM corner store run”

        not ever for rubbers or novelty cheetos or various forms of seltzer in various states of decay? why bother living in ny if you’re not going to buy dodgy stuff at 3am?Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Will, and I know the chef’s mom, so I often get my meals for free. Not the beer or liquor, though.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        “not ever for rubbers”

        Are you trying to make me feel bad?

        or novelty cheetos?


        or various forms of seltzer in various states of decay?

        Never been a big fan of carbonated water.

        “why bother living in ny if you’re not going to buy dodgy stuff at 3am?”

        The Met, MOMA, The Frick, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brownstones, The Strand, New York Theatre Workshop, the Public Theatre, Shakespeare in the Park, the Lincoln Center Festival, Mostly Mozart, WFUV, WNYC, I was born in the area, the Village Vanguard, Townhall, it feels like home, etc.Report

      • Avatar dhex says:

        “I was born in the area”

        bro, yer long island. don’t hide your striped shirt roots!

        for reals, i really do find it hard to believe you never needed to kipper out for anything at 3am for that special something only a terribly lit bodega could give you. where would you get bottled water before heading to the park and waiting for the sun to rise?Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        I said the area, I didn’t say the city 🙂

        I’ve been to a Bodega at 6 in the morning for a bottle of water on the way to the gym if that counts.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Doing the whole “bachelor pad” thing, there were at least two occasions where I showed up in my pajamas/bathrobe and slippers to purchase toilet paper at 3am.

        Never Honey Nut Cheerios? (“Kazzy coming!”)Report

      • @chris

        [Sorry, I accidentally hit submit too early]

        Thanks for the answer, and I appreciate the development that you describe. What, however, do you believe about the 24-hour issue? Why would the neighborhood want to demand that Walmart not be open for 24 hours?Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Pierre, I suspect that it was a traffic issue, or more specifically, they didn’t want out-of-neighborhood people in the neighborhood at 3 am.Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

        Is this the one across the street from the Dragon’s Den and Hopdoddy’s?Report

  8. Avatar Will Truman says:

    I never shopped at Walmart when I was young and living in the big city, unless I happened to need something at three in the morning. Then I moved to a place where Walmart was the only place to shop that was open late. From there it became a habit and even when I moved to another city where I had more late options, I’d still go to Walmart for the convenience (prescriptions, eyecare, cheese, and a basketball pump all available at the same place!).

    The last town I lived in didn’t have a Walmart, but needed one. So Walmart became a special thing for whenever I was in the city. I liked going there for the usual reasons, though I think I started getting accustomed to the not-Walmart experience. Because when we moved out here, I started to find Walmart a rather unpleasant shopping experience. There are 10,000 little things that are some combination of things that didn’t used to be the case or things I had just gotten used to.

    So I find myself going to Walmart when I need to go to Walmart, rather than when I need to get some stuff (if I can get the stuff somewhere else). A lot of that is rather specific to my circumstance. If I were still living in the circumstances that had me shopping at Walmart in the first place, I’d still be shopping at Walmart.Report

    • Avatar greginak says:

      I think other big chains have caught up to Walmart in terms of the Having 5 odd and unrelated items available at all times Experience. Walmart isn’t also all that cheap anymore in my limited experience. I think for a lot of people its a habit to go there or its just the closest big store.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Here in Austin, your choices are basically Walmart or Target, unless you want to go out of your way to Costco or Sam’s Club (which is Walmart anyway). We haven’t had K-Marts since ’00 or ’01, whichever year they went bankrupt. Walmart isn’t as inexpensive as it used to be (though the clothes are still pretty cheap for the most part), but it’s still noticeably cheaper than Target.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        My experience is that while there are lots of non-grocery stuff you can get at Safeway and the like, it doesn’t remotely compare to Walmart where there is a decent likelihood that you can get just about any old thing. The downside is that other places have grocery items that Walmart lacks.

        As for price, it varies. Most items are actually about the same. Sometimes Walmart is actually more expensive (Pepsi-brand soft drinks, around here). But then you run into more items where Walmart stuff is significantly cheaper (Sausage is $2.50 at Walmart, $3.80 at the other place, and were $4.80 at Safeway back in Arapaho).

        It was never about price for me, though. It was about convenience.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      Though our paths are different, our destination is relatively the same. If I need specific items and I know Walmart has them and has them at the right place, I’ll go. But it isn’t and likely won’t ever be my default shop for a myriad of reasons (some legitimate, some probably not).Report

  9. Avatar greginak says:

    I dislike the liberal tendency to harp on certain companies as uniquely terrible ( see Walmart, Starbux) It is just as bad as the sickly love of certain brands people have like for many cars of sporking Harleys. I’ve found Walmarts to be really individual in how they work for a customer which seems odd to me. Most giant chains go for every store being the same. One of our walmarts in town is often verging on Mad Max level of chaos while the other is busy but fairly efficient. What they both fail to do is be able to stock things based on the actual frickin season. So they will start putting out summer stuff in February or March….this is AK, summer is a ways away people. In any case simply shopping at a store doesn’t make you much of a hero or goat.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer says:

      In some industries that is just how it works.

      Fall and Winter clothing goes on sale at the end of August even though cold weather is still a bit away in many parts of the US. Spring and Summer clothing goes on sale in mid to late January.

      I don’t hate Starbucks and they seem to treat their employees well.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        Oh i understand the concept but if a business can’t adapt in even the most marginal way to its local area, then that doesn’t strike me a great company.Report

  10. Avatar Vikram Bath says:

    The list of worst paying companies is basically a list of retailers. Walmart happens to be the biggest one and it makes a lot of money, so it gets the most criticism. If your objection to Walmart is how it treats workers, you can’t really shop at Target or K-mart either.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      I often hear people trot out the “How Walmart treats its workers” line. And I am admittedly naive on the matter. What, exactly, does Walmart do that is so horrific? I don’t mean the horror stories, per say, as those are likely to be either exaggerated, misreported, or rare exceptions. But what are the day-to-day indignities they foist upon their employees? Of course, if the horror stories can be documented to be day-to-day or otherwise business-as-usual, I’m all ears to them.Report

      • Avatar Squeelookle says:

        Did you read my comments in the other post by Mr Kelly? I will be happy to provide something of an average day’s experience once I get the chance to write it out if you want it.Report

      • @kazzy

        I don’t have much in the way of actual evidence (no cite, no personal experience), but here’s what I’ve heard and what I have a problem with, to they extent that they are true and represent something systematic:*

        1. A culture of systematic racial and gender discrimination when it comes to promotions to management.

        2. Mangers face a lot of pressure to keep down labor costs, which encourages them to cut corners and sometimes bully people to work off the clock.

        I have no idea how true, if at all, these allegations are. And if they are true, I don’t know if they’re unique to Walmart or if all/most large retailers are like that.

        *Not that isolated incidents are any less bad because they’re not “systematic,” but if something is systematic, then it reflects presumably on things the company can address or is responsible for creating in a way that it, as a whole, might not bear all the onus of what happens from individual actors. (I’m not speaking legally here. I just see a difference.)Report

      • I’ll also add that the “Walmart cheer” strikes me as humiliating. Maybe it’s not a gross rights violation, but I can’t imagine that it’s fun. OMMVAIMBWOTF*


        *Others’ Mileage May Vary And I Might Be Wrong On The FactsReport

    • Avatar trizzlor says:

      Walmart also gets criticism for it’s heavy-handed anti-union policies and culture. Not all businesses will be able to offer great benefits – I understand that – but I’m more sympathetic to such an outcome when employees have at least had an opportunity to negotiate collectively.

      I worked at a Walmart about a decade ago and their corporate culture towards unions was cartoonishly bad. All the new associates had to suffer through video brainwashing sessions that denounced union “organizers” (i.e. employees thinking about starting a union) as rogue, outside agitators just trying to make a quick buck from dues. The presented counter-point to unions was the “open door policy”, which meant an associate with a concern could freely talk to the manager (how generous!) and the manager would try to help if the concern was reasonable enough. I thought the whole thing was transparently manipulative until I brought it up with my co-workers. While none of them really believed in the open door policy, they were even more suspicious of unions and bargaining. They generally agreed with the idea that Walmart is always looking out for us, and in a dispute between Walmart and an employee it’s the employee being unreasonable. This culture, that the associates are indebted to Walmart merely for hiring them (as opposed to the employment being a mutually beneficial exchange) was quite pervasive and deeply creepy. I, of course, had the luxury of seeing it that way because the job was just a temporary transition for me, not the paycheck that fed my family. Still, it’s that instilled Stockholm syndrome that makes me very uncomfortable to shop at a Walmart, much more-so than their wages or benefits.Report

      • Avatar Squeelookle says:

        Third try.

        Yes I remember those videos. They were horrible and badly made. I can’t understand how anyone falls for them. I suppose it helps that a lot of the people they hire are low income and low education and anti-government and the videos equate unions with government. Many of my coworkers believed in a lot of stupid conspiracy theories too.

        As the open door policy goes it is really just for show. Coming to your manager is the way to get yourself put on a watch list or get your hours cut for being a malcontent.Report

      • Avatar Squeelookle says:

        Also Roger Walton said the same thing you mentioned about people being supposed to be grateful to Wal-mart for being hired and so grateful they will put up with any abuse no matter how wrong. I think you are right to call it stockholm syndrome. They try to break you down and make you unhappy and miserable and constantly feel threatened and vulnerable.Report

      • Avatar trizzlor says:

        Exactly, the fact that simply speaking to your manager is billed as some kind of generous policy gives you a good idea of their general attitude. To be fair, Target has a nearly identical training video for their employees, so this looks like it could be a standard tactic. Personally, I think that wages/benefits will generally be decided in an unsympathetic way, guided by the balance sheet. And if things are really bad then we should be changing them through legislation like the minimum wage. But where these companies have a lot of flexibility is in setting corporate culture. Places like Walmart and Target should be scorned for their decision to manipulate and intimidate their employees.Report

      • Avatar Alan Scott says:

        On the stockholm syndrome-ness of Walmart:

        A year or two, I read a blog post written by someone who had been hired as a walmart manager. She described her training as a lesson in making your employees feel crappy about themselves so they won’t ask for better pay.Report

  11. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    I suspect that a great deal of the animosity that is directed at Walmart has to do with its scope and success — or to be more precise, its size and scope at the exact moment the pubic largely became aware of trends it wasn’t comfortable with. And in this it’s not really alone.

    When Americans realized they were turning away from family dinners, community diners and coffee shops, McDonalds became a pariah; it did so again two decades later when the destruction of the South American natural landscape to make way of agriculture became a big issue. In the insane 90s tech bubble Microsoft became a villain. Public criticism about gentrification in low income neighborhoods coincided with Starbucks’ becoming ubiquitous. Big story trends about cheap, overseas labor made villains of Nike, Apple and K-Mart at different times.

    Walmart has two real waves of negative press where it gets made into a boogyman: The first is when urban development & growth boundaries become big news, the second is whenever a lot of news hits about the growing disparity between the investor haves and low-wage have-nots in our society.

    Like all those other companies, Walmart isn’t really doing anything radically worse than others. They just happened to be the most visible case study when we decided we were unsure we liked how things were going.Report

    • Avatar Don Zeko says:

      This sounds about right. it’s not that I want the Walton’s to get religion about high wages and benefits. it’s that i want to live in a society where even a company like walmart has to pay their employees better and treat their employees better in order to be able to hire staff in the first place.Report

  12. Avatar j r says:

    I don’t really understand the “they treat their employees bad,” so it’s immoral to shop there argument. Most of the people that I’ve known who were treated terribly on their jobs also happened to work in some of the most sought after places of employment (investment banking associate at Goldman Sachs and soldier in a Ranger battalion are two jobs that come to mind). Those people are, of course, compensated for their misery to an extent that they remain. Work sucks. That’s just the nature of the best. It’s a very small percentage of people who jump out of bed in the morning ecstatic about the prospect of going to work. We work, because we value what we take away from the bargain more than what we put into it, even if we don’t often feel that way.

    The low wages and the practice of keeping people under a certain number of hours is a different animal and I could see that triggering ethical concerns for some consumers. However, here is the question that I have: If Walmart X in Town Y disappeared tomorrow and was replaced by a store that payed workers a “living wage,” considering the necessary price increases to make those wages possible, would this be a net financial benefit or a net financial drain on, say, the poorest residents of Town Y?

    ps – I know that Walmart doesn’t always have the lowest prices on a particular item, but they do have fairly low prices on a wide assortment of items. And having everything under one roof certainly saves you the car fare and the time necessary to run all over town buying things in different stores.Report

    • @j-r

      I’ve wondered about this, too, but along a slightly different trajectory. If people are treated horribly by their employer, it seems to me that they put up with the treatment because they haven’t been able to find a better employer. So not shopping there might put that employer out of business and cause those people to lose their jobs. Not that it’s a slam dunk we should shop at such employers, but just something I’ve been thinking about.Report

      • Avatar Alan Scott says:

        I’d argue that are a lot of factors contributing to the lack of job mobility for WalMart employees.

        The biggest is that most retail jobs hire part-time and treat full-time employment as a benefit of seniority. So a WalMart worker who gets paid minimum wage for a thirty hour week might be qualified for a job that pays an extra $2 an hour, but that job will only be 20 hours a week for the first few months. When you’re barely scraping by on what you make, you can’t afford that temporary cut, even if you’ll be better off in the long run.

        Economic illiteracy and lack of familiarity with structures of employment. Workers that are qualified for better jobs don’t apply for them because they don’t know about them, or are under the mistaken impression that it’s not okay to look for a job if you already have one.

        On-hire drug testing. Not gonna lie. Lots of retail employees are getting stoned on their off-hours. The only time they have to pee into a cup is when they get a new job–so where I could have simply dropped off my application somewhere else when I don’t like my current job, a smoker would have to go cold turkey for a month before even applying.

        And here’s a big one: WalMart eats your soul. Some bad jobs are bad enough that they negatively affect your own sense of self-worth. That’s going to make employees less likely to reach for something better. I’ve read a blog post by a former WalMart manager who suggested that the store was actively and purposely engaged in this behavior–that, basically, WalMart managers are trained to act like cult leaders. Certainly puts their beginning-of-shift cheers into perspective.Report

      • @alan-scott

        Much of what you say makes sense at least arguably.

        However, I don’t really buy the economic illiteracy and lack of familiarity argument. In my experience and speaking only anecodotally from people I’ve known (and I have never worked at Walmart), even very low paid, working-poor kind of people have a very keen sense of other possibilities that are immediately available and are very ready to pursue them if they determine those jobs would be better for their situation. It’s possible that some of them might have shorter time horizons that might limit their view of their possibilities, but I’m not sure how far I’d take it.

        As I said, your other reasons seem arguably good ones. I don’t know, however, whether the way to help their situation is to decline to shop there, hoping that if enough people will do so, then the employer will shut down and the people will look for different jobs. (Of course, you could say that it’s not as much a question of not shopping at unethical employers to punish them as it is a question of shopping at ethical employers to reward them.)Report

  13. Avatar Will Truman says:

    As luck would have it, I went to Walmart tonight because I had to pick up some drugs. I will note that as Uninsured Americans, we paid roughly half as much for the drugs as we did at the previous pharmacy. that was nice.

    Anyhow, I found an iPhone in my shopping cart. That may have been the first time I have actually touched one of those things.Report

  14. Avatar Squeelookle says:

    @alan-scott I think you mean this article. http://labornotes.org/blogs/2011/08/how-walmart-trains-managers

    It is exactly how we were treated at the store I worked at. It was all about abusing the employees so harshly that they felt there was no way to ever fight back or complain.

    I also found this link for some more from Gawker. http://gawker.com/wal-mart-is-scared-of-these-true-stories-from-its-own-e-743832841

    I’m trying this once more and then I am going to bed.Report

  15. Avatar Damon says:

    I’ve shopped at Walmart, but generally, don’t. It’s not as an attractive / pleasant experience than other places but mine also had automotive, sporting goods, and other things not generally available unless I drove 20-50 miles to another city.

    It all comes down to utility for me. When I moved from that location 2 years ago the Walmart is no longer convenient, so I don’t go anymore…I expect that Walmart is not as “evil” as some claim and not as great as others claim.Report

  16. Avatar North says:

    Personally I prefer Target but then I would considering that it’s a Minneapolis based corporation.Report

  17. Avatar Katie says:

    Besides the poor treatment of workers I hate shopping at Walmart.
    The one here never has their 10 items or less lanes open. The place is too big and I can’t find things. Matches? Who knows where those might be. So much cheap junk there. I never buy groceries there because there is no choice of brands. They have their own brand and maybe one other. When they first opened here they had a nice craft section but it’s all junk now. If something is on sale at Safeway, it’s usually cheaper than Walmart. The only way I go there is if it’s the only place to find something that I absolutely have to have now.Report

  18. Avatar Squeelookle says:

    Mr Kazzy did you get my email about what working at Wal-mart is like?Report

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