Unfortunately, I work at Wal-Mart. I do not work at Wal-Mart by choice. No one starts out with the career aspiration of working at Wal-Mart. Like me, most people end up there after they've failed to find any work elsewhere.
Since this is my first post, let me begin by explaining what I intend to use this blog space for:
Every time I get home from a day's work at Wal-Mart, I have a new complaint about my job.
It could be jerk co-workers.
It could be a rude customer.
It could be an incompetent boss.
It could be an asinine corporate policy.
Whenever I get angry or frustrated or fed up with Wal-Mart or some other Wal-Mart related matter, I will create an entry on this blog as a sort of catharsis. Venting my frustrations will, hopefully, ease my stress level.
Now. Today's rant is about store/corporate policy.
Tuesday I was scheduled to work 12 noon to 9PM. That's OK. I don't mind working those hours. When I hired in, I agreed to twenty-four hour availability, all seven days of the week and all holidays. So, the hours I work are never a problem for me.
As a Wal-Mart associate, I am expected to stay on my feet on that hard concrete tiled floor for 8 hours a day. I agreed to that, too. Still no problem.
At 58 years of age, oftentimes walking and standing constantly on that hard floor makes my feet hurt. That is something I've learned to put up with, and truthfully, something I have put up with at many jobs I've had in my lifetime. Usually, when I get home after work, if my feet hurt too much, I take a couple of Aspirin or Ibuprofren and go to bed, and usually, when I awake the next morning, my feet are fine. I've no complaints about that. It goes with the job.
But last Tuesday, things didn't happen as usual. Tuesday, I did nothing out of the ordinary. Tuesday, my left ankle started hurting early in my shift. I thought it was because the weather was changing and arthritis was affecting the ankle I had sprained last December, and I was prepared to grin and bear it.
But it wasn't the ankle I hurt last year. It was the other ankle.
I have no explanation as to why my ankle started hurting. I didn't bang it on anything. I didn't twist it or turn it. I didn't sprain it. It just started hurting, and continued hurting throughout my shift. When I got home Tuesday evening, the pain had spread all the way to my knee. Just as I had done hundreds of times before, I took some over-the-counter pain relief medication and went to bed.
Only this time, the pain was much worse than usual. And worse yet, after tossing and turning all night trying to sleep through the pain, when I awoke, the pain wasn't gone. It was as bad, or possibly even worse than it was the night before. Something wasn't right.
Although I literally never call in sick, I decided to call in sick Wednesday morning a couple of hours before my scheduled starting time. I reasoned if the pain hadn't gone away during the night, it surely wasn't going to go away while I stood and walked around on that hard floor all day.
Today (Thursday) I had the day off anyway, and as I was still in pain, I used my time to visit the doctor and have myself checked out. He suggested I take the weekend off and stay off my feet, and gave me a note to give my bosses explaining that and also that I should be allowed to sit down occasionally during working hours the following week.
I went into the store to pick up a couple of things and to drop off the two notes from my doctor. Imagine my chagrin when I was told by the personnel manager that the company no longer accepts doctor's excuses, and that I would have to call in everyday that I took off. On top of that, she informed me that whatever days I took off were considered unexcused absences. Then she went on to explain that Wal-Mart doesn't allow associates to do "light duty" while recuperating. If I can't fully execute my duties with an injured ankle, I would have to take a (unpaid) leave of absence.
This, in spite of the fact that, during new hire orientation, every new hire is informed that if they have some sort of disability, a "reasonable accommodation" can be made to accommodate their infirmity.
Now, she says, I would have had to be injured in an accident while on the job to qualify for that accommodation.
I didn't know any of these policies were actual Wal-Mart policies, but, after my wife angrily called our lawyer to see if we had any recourse, I learned they are legal, if not legitimate policies.
As I said, I rarely have need to take sick days off. The last time I took sick leave on any job was in 1993, when I had to have surgery to remove a growth from my vocal chords. And I wouldn't have taken even those days off if I hadn't needed my voice to do my job.
So, no accommodation. Unexcused absences that will certainly look good on my work record. However, I could use one day of personal time and two days of sick leave to insure I wouldn't suffer a loss of income during the three days (I am scheduled off Saturday anyway)I have off.
Isn't that nice of them?