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The Walmart Diaries: Part 1 This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

I’m pretty sure that only at Walmart would a guy give me a shopping cart full of ice cream and tell me to throw it all away. And before I elaborate, yes, it was indeed a shopping cart full of ice cream cartons. Chocolate, strawberry, cookie dough, Breyers, Blue Bunny, Klondike Bars. Every kind of ice cream brand and flavor imaginable (and even some that aren’t) filled the cart, every pristine carton gleaming with condensation and a slight creamy lacquer at the top.

But back to Walmart.

I had just started my full-time job at Walmart two days previously. And of course, on my second day, I walked in, ready to swipe my badge, only to discover a war zone. The lights were dim, the floor splattered with puddles of water, the freezer doors dripped with melted frost, leaves scattered all over the wet tile, and the electronics were covered in muddy plastic. No sooner did I shyly tiptoe in than a manager grabbed me and propelled me toward to the freezer section.


“Listen, you’re going to help us throw out the stuff in the freezer section. Sean! Partner with her!”

With that short note, I found myself clambering into the wet shelves, throwing frozen dinners into a shopping cart, which Walmart employees have fondly dubbed a “buggy.” At 4 o’clock, I staggered out of the store, damp, sore, exhausted, and fervently hoping the next day would not involve trashing endless packages of Wanchai Ferry.

At 9:30, I walked into the backroom, nervously wringing my hands as a manager tugged along to meet the Department Manager of Dairy/Frozen.

“Hey, Rick,” the manager called, pulling me forward to a group of people bent around a wooden pallet. “This is Sarah, she’s the new Dairy Associate.”

A man wearing a blue baseball cap straightened and glanced at me through his glasses. I shrank back, instinctively intimidated by my bespectacled, rather good-looking boss.

“Is this your first day?” he asked me in a classically Oklahoman drawl, amusement flickering in his light blue eyes.

“My third,” I muttered, furiously avoiding eye contact.

“Well, you’ve kind of come in at an unusual time. Normally it’s not like this.” He gestured at the pallet, which I noticed was stacked high with ice cream cartons. “Uh, all this ice cream has gone bad. So, we’re going to count it, put it in carts, and you can throw it in the open tops. Um...can you find the open tops?”

I nodded as I took hold of an already full shopping cart and began to push it toward the exit.

On my way out, it struck me what a ridiculous figure I cut. Here I was, this tiny eighteen-year old trundling a shopping cart filled with ice cream cartons outside of Walmart. Not to mention that I was wearing pants and long sleeves in the middle of June...in Oklahoma. After only five minutes in the stifling humidity, sweat began to drip down my nose. In anticipation of my expected role in Dairy/Frozen, I had dressed accordingly, only to be nudged outside in 95 degree weather.

I scooped up a carton of Breyer’s Strawberry and heaved it up into the ten foot tall dumpster, only for pinkish ice cream to spray in my face and hair. Scowling, I flung carton after carton away, watching as the lids slipped off and rainbow sherbet soared in the air like pink and green and yellow ocean spray. When I threw the last package of Klondike bars into the dumpster, I was already slick with sweat and sticky with various flavors of ice cream. Exhausted, I pushed the shopping cart back to the main building, where I found two more shopping carts, each stacked high with ice cream, waiting for me.

One of the women sifting through the Magnum bars peered at me anxiously.

“Are you okay?” she asked.

“Certainly,” I lied. Of course I wasn’t okay. I seeped sweat and I could barely move my arms as I took hold of the shopping cart. I once again made the journey toward the dumpster, but this time, the cart hit a bump, jolting the load and sending a carton of ice cream toppling to the pavement.

“Nooo!” I cried, desperately lunging for the carton. But it was too late. The carton lay broken, its contents strewn on the ground. What had once been a fine specimen of Breyer’s Butter Pecan oozed in a milky, brown-streaked puddle dotted with lumps of pecan.

I picked up the carton and reinstalled it on the ice cream tower, and continued to walk to the dumpster, grimacing at the mess of Butter Pecan as I passed by. When I returned to the building, ready to take the second load, my legs dragged as though I was wading through a milkshake.

“Here’s Thelma, she can help you now,” a short, stout woman told me, gesturing to a newcomer holding a full cart. I glanced skeptically at the small, sixty-year-old woman in front of me. She was probably less able to do this than I was.

As the pair of us pushed our shopping carts out to the dumpster, I wondered why they would pick the two smallest people of the group to spend hours in the heat throwing out ice cream. And it was hours. We didn’t finish trashing ice cream until 12:00, when my face had gone as red as a tomato and Rick ordered me to take my break. I walked awkwardly into the nearest bathroom, my clothes clinging to my sweaty skin, and started to rinse my glasses in the water. As I struggled to wipe off the streaky smudges, I mused that it would be a long time before I could eat ice cream again.



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flyingpinkgiraffesThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Sept. 8, 2011 at 5:00 pm:
haha that was hilarious!  great story!
 
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