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So, in yet another edition of "public officials who don't care," today I want to talk about more food safety, as well as fire safety.

I wish I felt safe identifying which store I work at, but just for your own caution, considering that the 'backstock problem' is nationwide, mine might not be the only one who's doing this. But we have way, WAAAAY too much shit in the back rooms, and this applies not only to room-temperature stuff, but to stuff in the coolers and freezers as well. One problem is, our freezers are tiny. So in order to do any picking or binning, we have to pull the pallets out of the freezer.

I didn't work last night, but several of the guys who did warned me to not buy frozen food from my store for a while. I naturally inquired as to why. I was told that, Monday night / Tuesday morning, some of those pallets of frozen food were allowed to sit out for SIX FUCKING HOURS. And only some of it was thrown away, I'm guessing just the stuff that did not APPEAR sellable. The rest was, by order of management, thrown back into the freezer. The associates complied, because many of them really, really need their jobs.

I was shaking BEFORE I almost hit a deer on the way home. The first thing I did when I got inside my home was send a tip to the local news station, whose anchors I sometimes see shopping in my store. They ignored my complaint about the mold, so let's see the fuckers ignore this too.

This is actually not the first time my management team has refused to give a damn about food safety, as you may recall. I'm just tired of this being on my conscience. So I need something from you, Kos. I need someone to recommend a good metadata stripper for pictures, because I'm not posting them without anonymity due to the fact that I don't want to get sued back into the Stone Age for "libel" or "slander." I also need reach, and hopefully a reporter who would not quail at the idea of pissing off a company that makes more money than some countries. I want to walk up to the heads of this company who do whatever they want without consequences, and I want to kick them square in the crotch. With my steel-toed boots. (And did I mention I have really strong legs? I do pull pallets for a living, ya know.) I want to make them work this job, eat this food, pull apart these bins and have whole stacks of canned goods fall on them, get heel spurs and blown-out knees and herniated discs and little cuts on their fingers that just won't heal, I want their teeth to disintegrate like shale, like mine are, because I can't afford dental care, I want them to lay awake at night praying they don't get sick because even with the 'insurance,' one bad turn in their health will put them in debt for their family's next seven generations.

I want people to hear these stories. Like the time our trash compactor broke, and there was some snafu with the sanitation company and they weren't emptying our dumpsters. And so what we did was take bags of trash from everywhere in the store--from deli, from the bakery, from the break room, from the BATHROOMS--and just pile them in shopping carts next to the broken compactor (and blocking a fire door in the process). They sat there for WEEKS. And every time I see a child sitting in the safety seat of a shopping cart, every time I see an adorable little baby gnawing on the handle, I ask myself, "Just how thoroughly were those carts sanitized? WERE they even sanitized? Please tell me they were at least left out in the rain for a little while." But I don't know. And it haunts me.

While I'm at it, I would also like to talk about fire safety, or lack thereof. Mostly because I'm getting really tired of fearing for my damn life.

We've been getting surprisingly regular visits from the fire marshals lately, and each time, we get fined for the same things: our hallways are too crowded with boxes of backstock, our fire exits are blocked, our magnetic doorstops (wired to the fire alarm) are broken so we've been tying the doors open, we continually turn off the automatic door on the non-grocery side of the store at night, and all of our fire-suppression shutter doors, also wired to the fire system, are on hooks so they couldn't drop even if we wanted them to. Wal-Mart just eats the fines and keeps doing it. And they're not gonna do anything about the backstock unless forced to, because the only alternative is to get more trailers (which charge rent by the day), or find somewhere else to send this shit, which would gasp! COST SALES.

We do have some trailers, but clearly not enough, because our automotive department's service bay only has one accessible get-under-the-car-by-going-underground thing now. A good third of that bay is covered in backstock pallets. (Yes, this is a thing my store has done.) The rollers we use to unload the trucks, we can't put those in the cage outside anymore because the cage is full of backstock, so those really expensive rollers just have to sit outside and rust. And the last time one irreparably (but only because Wal-Mart fixes NOTHING, only breaks it and goes without for months) broken, they made us go without that section of rollers for months. Let me tell you, having to take over twenty steps to get from the end of the rollers to the Pets pallet with a 40-pound case of kitty litter, and do it many times, SUCKS.

I've got, I'll say a SLIGHT mobility issue. I can power-walk for ages on a good day, but running and jumping are out of the question. But running and jumping (and climbing) are what would be required if the store caught fire, because in the area where I do most of my work, I'm not only surrounded by cardboard boxes filled with flammable materials, I actually get blocked in and even trapped by them. Regularly. I'm constantly brushing up against cases of hairspray, Sterno, lighter fluid, shampoo, paint thinner, you name it.

I'm tired of being afraid. I'm tired of working for a public menace. I'm tired of the anxiety attacks because in order to work with one temp bin I have to move three different pallets out of the way and I don't have anywhere to move them to, but my work must get done, and the stress is so exponential that I'm surprised many of my coworkers aren't drinking themselves to death. (I'm addicted to video games, myself.) I'm tired of having to remain anonymous because the only thing my 'health insurance' is good for is prescription assistance, and without that it'd take a quarter of my monthly pay for my medication, and no, I can't go without it.

I don't know how much longer I can do this.

Sat Apr 26, 2014 at 11:25 AM PT: Got a letter from OSHA saying it's a health department problem, so I sent another letter explaining in detail all the fire hazards, and the fact that the fire marshals do know about them but Wal-Mart keeps doing them anyway. I swear, if they don't come and visit, I might start printing out pictures and stapling them to phone poles or something.

Originally posted to Jimmy Rustler on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 01:13 AM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions, Barriers and Bridges, Inherent Human Rights, and Community Spotlight.

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