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Television vs. Wal-Mart

Bill Ramey

Television has definitely shaped my life in many different ways. I used to watch all the TV shows where the kids would all have jobs, and was able to buy all of these nice things for themselves, and their families. Seeing all of these images on TV made me want to get a job and start making the big bucks like the characters on all of my favorite TV shows.

When I turned sixteen I decided to turn this TV dream into a reality. I was sixteen years old when I started working for Wal-Mart. I had gotten the idea to work there from a commercial that I had naturally seen on TV. I had been hearing about how much Wal-Mart was growing and moving rapidly across the country on the news. I had also heard of them opening a store close to where I lived.

I decided to go to the store a couple of days later and fill out an application. A week later I received a call from a manager at the store who said that I had been hired, and I was to show up at a Wal-Mart employee orientation meeting in two days. When orientation came around I was very nervous. I wondered who was going to be there, what was going to happen, and if Wal-Mart really was the type of store it portrayed itself as on TV.

When I first walked in and saw the store it was empty and in the beginning stages of set-up. I was given a name badge and told the meeting would start in a little bit. I sat down and waited for the festivities to begin. Again, all that was on my mind were the images I had seen in the commercial of low prices, and the employees that loved working for the company.

The meeting began and we started filling out paperwork. I didn't think that there would be so much paper work to fill out, but being that this was my first job I guess I really didn't know what to expect. I came across a stock option sheet and it made me think of my neighbor who had been chatting with my parents about how he follows the stock market on television and in the newspaper. He would be watching his stocks go up and down all of the time. The assistant manager started talking about the minimum to put in if we were interested. I thought sure, why not? I decided to put $10 a paycheck into the stock option.

As we continued to fill out more paperwork the store manager came over and introduced himself. He told us how he started with the company, how he had pushed carts nine years ago, worked his way up, and ended up in the position that he was in today. I found this very interesting because this was the job that I had been applying for. This was the job that I was looking for when I saw Wal-Mart on TV.

After finishing all the paperwork we were allowed to leave, and given a work schedule. On the way home all I could think about was how the store manager had worked his way to the top, and this is what I wanted to do as well.

Two years had gone by and I still wasn't moving up in the company. I decided to try a different section of the store. I went to the automotive department, which is still considered part of Wal-Mart, just a different division. Right after I started in automotive, the manager was transferred to another store. This was the man that was going to make it happen for me, this was the man who would help me become one of those happy employees that I had first seen in that commercial two years ago, and now he was gone.

I was starting to give up on the Wal-Mart "dream" until we hired the manager that would change my life. When she noticed my ability to work, my dedication, and commitment to the company she enrolled me into the Manager's Training Program. I started the training program and was on my way. Finally everything good I was told, and saw on TV about Wal-Mart, was happening to me.

The training program was going great, and I was really starting to enjoy my job. I began to help out at other stores, and even went to Arkansas for a week of training. Coming back from Arkansas I was offered a chance to manage my own store. The only catch was it was in Elkhart, Indiana. I decided to accept their offer, and off to Indiana I went.

When I first started at my new store I really enjoyed it. However, the 75 to 80 hours of work, and no days off was starting to weigh on me. Suddenly my once perfect job was turning out to be awful. I wasn't getting any help either, which made it not even worth going anymore. I began looking for a new job, even though I had gone through so much with Wal-Mart.

It was at about this time that I saw an infomercial, or television show, on college and high school education, and the different jobs and pay scales that were available for each level of education. I was very interested in this since I chose not to go to college after high school. After sitting and watching this for a while I started to think, should I go back to school, because of course the special said college was the way to go. I thought that maybe I was too old to go back.

I had seen college campuses on television and saw all of these high school kids walking around on campus. I had taken three years off would I still fit in? Just then the special said that more and more adults and high school graduates were going back to school, and that it wasn't just teenagers anymore. I felt like this TV special was aimed directly at me, and my experiences after high school. It was amazing!

The next day at work was the last straw. I was told to stay and make sure that my store was ready for inventory. This wound up turning into a 24-hour shift, straight with no breaks. In the morning I called my boss and told her that I was stepping down and going back to my old store as a regular employee. She couldn't understand why, and I didn't really have the energy to tell her. I couldn't tell her that I had a change of heart about school because of a miraculous TV special. So I came home and started working at my old store. Sure I had to take a pay cut, but I don't work as hard as I once used to. I am now attending college hoping that in the future I can get that good office job that was portrayed on the TV special, and start making good money.

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