[ by Joe the Peacock, MentallyIncontinent.com ]
I first heard about the Wal-Mart position from a friend of mine who was working the early-morning shift. He explained that the electronics department needed an employee on the overnight shift because the last person who worked there was caught masturbating to a Cindy Crawford workout tape.
Sadly, I'm not kidding.
I was in college and needed the money, so I showed up one Wednesday for an interview. Believe it or not, the interview process was pretty thorough, especially considering that the job paid $6 an hour and entailed wearing a blue smock, cleaning up after dullards, and answering the same questions hundreds of times per hour. After a grueling two-hour interview, a drug test, and multiple calls to my references, I was finally accepted into the ranks of the Sam Walton elite: I became Joe "The Overnight Electronics Department Employee" Peacock.
The job was a complete nightmare.
The first few weeks were extremely frustrating. Because I was the new kid, I ended up as the victim of several "funny" pranks. For instance, I was told that the electronics person had to cover for the pet department, which was on the opposite end of the store. I was also informed that whenever possible, I should pitch in and help other departments stock their wares. It was common to find me putting away stock in other departments, while being paged back to my department every 10 minutes.
Things went downhill from there. It started with my manager noticing discrepancies on my inventory reports. Each night, I found a note reminding me to check the battery count, or verify the film count, because the rack was off by one. I would count and count again, and the counts would match the inventory printout. It baffled me, but I didn't spend too many cycles worrying about it. Yet more and more inventory began disappearing: video games, printer cartridges, and eventually a television. The notes from my manager became increasingly terse. I watched the department like a hawk, but saw nothing remotely suspicious.
One morning, I was confronted by the overnight manager. I walked over to the offending aisle of printer cartridges, and demonstrated for him that the count matched exactly with what was on his new morning printout . . . hmm. That's odd. It actually was off by one. No one had even come into my department that evening. Something stank.
After a few days of investigation, the morning manager, not surprisingly, received horrible reviews of my performance from the other employees. The part that really fried my turkey was that the overnight manager, Darius, supported the claims of the overnight staff that I was not only lazy but was also pilfering the stock for personal gain. I was furious. I explained--nay, pleaded--my case to the morning manger, to no avail.
Which leads to a deeper, darker secret than working at Wal-Mart: I was actually fired from Wal-Mart. I would say that only a retard could get fired from Wal-Mart, but even the door greeter with Down Syndrome who once bit a female customer's inner thigh was still employed. Truly it was one of the low points of my life.
The following week, I visited the store to pick up my final paycheck, and I met up with the friend who initially referred me to the job. Fortunately, he was pretty tight with a few of the overnight employees, and he told me what had happened. In an attempt to frame me for theft, some of those magnificent meatheads had been using the inventory gun to scan items, increasing the inventory by one unit every morning, so that it looked like we had constant shrinkage.
I asked my friend what I had done to piss them off so badly. He replied: "Dude, you didn't do anything. These are simple people who are not worthy of your hatred."
Still, hearing about the conspiracy made me angry. And when anger is involved, revenge is not very far behind.
The day after Thanksgiving is notorious for being the busiest shopping day of the entire year, and I determined that my vengeance should take place on that day.
Since I was the guy who set up everything in the electronics department for almost seven months, a few small advantages were mine alone. For instance, I was the only one who knew the lockout codes for the DirecTV and the demo DVD player. These components sat inside the cabinet of an entertainment center, and I still had the keys. I was also the only one who knew the CMOS and screensaver passwords to all the demo PCs in the department. But my real advantage was the knowledge that there was an extra working phone line underneath the main CD rack in the center of the department.
Thanksgiving night, I entered the store at midnight and set to work. The morning manager never got around to filling my position, and 80 percent of the workforce had the night off, so the store was my playground.
First, I went to work on the DirecTV system, locking out every channel except for The Hot Network, a hard-core porn channel. While in the cabinet, I inserted a special DVD-R I had made into the demo DVD unit, then I put a special VHS tape into the VCR. I turned off all the units, then locked up the demo cabinet and grabbed the remote controls. After that, I turned up the volume on every TV as high as it would go.
Still not satisfied, I moved over to the PCs and changed a few settings, then rebooted them to lock in the passwords. Finally, I took a cordless telephone and plugged it into the aforementioned vacant phone jack. Everything in place, I left the store with a gigantic smile on my face.
Naturally, the store was flooded at 6 a.m, when special sales began. There were lines to wait for a place in another line. I showed up around 11 a.m. and easily breezed through the store; not one of my former coworkers spotted me. I went over to my rigged electronics department to do a final survey of the area. All the televisions were on, screens black, with a small message at the bottom of each screen that read "signal unavailable." All the demo PCs had rolled over to their screensavers, which scrolled in blue text on a red background "I AM A LUCKY COMPUTER! TAKE ME HOME!" Moving the mouse or using the keyboard would not disable the screensaver, since they were password-protected. Everything looked ready.
I ran over to my secret hiding area in the pharmacy and took out the cordless phone. It was time for the festivities to begin. Using the paging system I had just hijacked, I announced: "Greetings, Wal-Mart holiday shoppers! One of our unadvertised specials is taking place RIGHT NOW! For the next 30 minutes in the electronics department, if you see a computer that reads "I AM A LUCKY COMPUTER!" that computer model is 70 percent off the already low sale price! These computers are first come, first served, so hurry to the electronics department! And as always, thank you for shopping Wal-Mart!"
The floodgates opened. Following the hordes of bargain hunters, I rushed over to the electronics department to look for the computer models that were "on sale." Astounding! Every single machine had a demo model that scrolled the magic phrase! But my actual intention was not to screw Wal-Mart on the price of their computers; it was to build an audience.
As the department reached critical capacity, I pulled out my stolen remotes for the demo units and turned on all three. Immediately, the top row of televisions, at full volume, flipped to images from the DirecTV system that was locked on hard-core pornography; the middle tier of televisions began showing images from Where the Boys Aren't, Vol. 12--Sorority Sleepover, and the bottom row of televisions was playing German scheiße films.
There is no way I can describe the resulting chaos, so I will leave it alone, mentioning only that I barely managed to crawl out of the store because I was doubled over with laughter.
What a happy holiday season I had that year. I heard later from my friend that the store had to honor the "advertised" sale on the computers, and that the "wall o' filth" actually played at full volume for the better part of an hour, as the department was so packed with spectators that employees could barely move through to the demo cabinet, which they obsessed over unlocking instead of simply turning off the televisions. Overall, the panic and unrest went on for longer than six hours.
The best part was that Wal-Mart accidentally paid me for another two weeks after I had been fired. Some time later, they sent a letter explaining that this was due to an error in the payroll system and requested that I return the money. I wrote the word scheiße with a chocolate bar on the letter, and mailed it back, wondering if they would get the joke. I then put the money into a tech-heavy stock portfolio that about a year ago lost every cent.
Oh well. Easy come, easy go.--Joe Peacock
A longer version of this story appears on Peacock's website, mentallyincontinent.com, and will be Chapter One of the forthcoming book of the same name.