Kmart 1/7 – Welcome to Kmart Week

by Nathan Stout

Nasty restrooms, nasty customers, cheezy flashing blue lights, devil dolls, and soggy bowling balls await you in this theme week: Kmart memories.

I had a dream. A dream of frying chicken. No, really I did. OK, it wasn’t so much a dream as a want. Did I really want to fry chicken, no, but I wanted a paycheck. There was a Church’s Chicken on Seminary in Fort Worth, TX and I saw it as a possible first ‘real’ job. I went in and interviewed and the guy seemed very intent on having me completely understand that I would be required to go in and out of a freezer all day long hauling chicken. I was fine with it. In the end I didn’t get the job. I think it was because I didn’t have a car.

Come with us now on a journey through time and space…
No, not the world of the Mighty Boosh, but to 1991 and Kmart Corporation. I knew my Dad’s 2nd wife’s mom worked as the human resources person at the Kmart on SouthFreeway in Fort Worth, TX (now the Fort Worth Bazaar) so I went to fill out an application. She had me fill out the paperwork and told me I could start working right away. No interview! Yahoo! I was going to be working part time making a whopping $4.55 an hour! The starting pay was $4.25 but since I was going to be working in Sporting Goods/Automotive I got that extra amount. I was rollin’! The day I got my badge I was so proud I thought my head might pop off. The first thing I had to do was sit though a few hours of BORING training videos. I was too excited for this to be too much of a downer. In just a few hours I would be working a real job for real money. Let the good times roll! On my way out of the store I was stopped for the first time by a customer. My first official day wasn’t until the middle of the following week so I didn’t know anything about the store. The lady asked me if I knew where the detergent was located. I had to embarrassingly tell her I didn’t know. That was a tiny foreshadowing of my relationship with customers from then on.
As a side note, when I got my first paycheck I spent it on a Cobra Commander figure and a Star Trek The Next Generation communicator pin. Talk about geeky!

And so begins a four year journey of learning, fun, and boredom. As I look back now (and have done so for the last several years) I look back fondly. All the bad things about my first job gets painted over with only good memories. Of course the job mostly sucked. Having to close, and work so late, stunk to high heaven. Some of the managers were tyrants, department managers inept, and fellow employees just plain crazy. But now I see only light and smell only roses (as one is apt to do).

This week I will convey some of the more interesting stories from my days at Kmart. If you ever worked at Kmart, please feel free to comment. If you ever worked with me, by all means email me! We can reminisce together.

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