Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for January 18th, 2011

Are we _really_ supposed to want to work at Wal-Mart? A rant.

with 8 comments

Folks, I have grown tired of these “people who work at Wal-Mart” commercials, and as I just saw (and heard) another of these, I need to discuss why I do not appreciate them in the slightest.

First off, I am really surprised by the tone of these commercials.  The Hispanic woman who’s proud — very, very proud — of her work at Wal-Mart because it “got her off welfare” and now she’s even gotten her son a job there — far be it for me to say, but shouldn’t she have aspired to a bit more than this?

Look.  I worked as a cashier for three-plus years and a grocery stocker for a few more.  I do not look down on people who do these jobs; I know they’re valuable and that many very smart, capable people work in these jobs for a time, or maybe for their entire life.

But for someone who was basically lost, by her own admission, before she started working for Wal-Mart . . . either this is TMI (too much information) or she’s dissembling a little bit to be polite.  Either way, I dislike it very much and wish she’d stop.

Where you work is only part of who you are; I realize that and respect it.  And I recognize that this Hispanic lady, along with the others who are proud to work at Wal-Mart and have been trumpeting it to the skies for at least three months now, are smart people who would seem to have more than one option.

So why is it, then, that whenever I think about Wal-Mart, I have the Saturday Night Live skit in my head where Wal-Mart comes in and takes over everyone, so the folks who used to have independent thoughts or were independently opposing Wal-Mart are now subsumed into its inexhaustible matrix?

These “people who work for Wal-Mart” commercials, to my mind, are sad.  Just sad.  Because I don’t for one minute buy that Wal-Mart is a “hip and happening” place, or one where people often go and grow . . . that some do is undeniable, but that most do?  Unlikely at best.

All I can do is shake my head and change the channel when I see the “people who work at Wal-Mart” commercials, because it just rings so hollow.  And false.

I cannot believe I am the only one, either, which makes me wonder why these commercials are still on the air.

If this is an attempt at framing the narrative, Wal-Mart corporate board, it’s utterly failed, because I just don’t see how pointing out a bunch of people who happen to work for you who are uncommonly cheerful about it helps get people to spend money at your stores.  (If the thought behind this narrative framing failure was that if we saw the people who work at Wal-Mart that we might realize they’re just like the rest of us, well, all I can say is, “I see your point but that doesn’t mean I’m going to spend any more money in your stores.”  In other words, it’s a non sequitur of major proportions.)

So with all of that being said, all I can do is hope these “people of Wal-Mart” commercials will soon go off the air.  Because all I can think of when I see these bright, amiable people talk about their Wal-Mart experiences is this:  “Why?  Why?”

Written by Barb Caffrey

January 18, 2011 at 6:01 pm