I had a similar experience working at Walmart for 4 years.
I remember getting the phone call. The HR recruiter at Walmart had seen my application and wanted me to come in for an interview. Being a kid in high school, I had never been employed. My parents were putting extreme pressure on me at the time to find some sort of job to gain any working experience.
When I heard $7.90 would be my starting wage, I jumped for the opportunity. My friends all worked for minimum wage. After accepting the offer, I felt a sense of shame, I would be working at “Wally World.” Not only that but the location I worked at was less than a 6-minute drive from my high school, so everyone at my school would know of my employment. Looking back, I don’t understand why at the time I felt so ashamed. If working at Walmart is so shameful, surly shopping there isn’t much better.
The first 2 years I was exactly how you’d expect a Walmart employee to be. I was either constantly late, not there, or there and mentally checked out. I felt that I was over qualified for the position, and that it was just a temporary phase for me. It just didn’t seem like a real job to me. To be fair this was a rough time in my life. I was kicked out of my parents’ house, but I was fortunate enough to live with a good friend of mine.
The next 2 and a half years, I decided that I needed to change my attitude. At this point I was enrolled in college and was studying business because I wanted to be an entrepreneur (still do). Everyday, I was determined to get the most out of my job. Sure, I was only a cashier, but I interacted with thousands of people everyday. I used this to my advantage by building up my skills of interacting with total strangers.
In 6 months, I was promoted to a Customer Service Manager, which is basically a glorified cashier, but I don’t think there is anyone at Walmart who has less authority with the same amount of responsibility. Basically I had to manage people, without the ability to reward or punish them. This experience taught me about motivation, and using influence. I had to find creative ways to get people to do what I wanted them to. At age 19 it was hard to get people in their mid 40’s to respect me, but I slowly over time won them over.
When I left Walmart, I felt that I was leaving family. Not because I loved the Wal-Mart, in fact I think it is evil, but because I learned that people are greater than the sum of their current position here on earth.