Last week was my last week of working a 6:00 PM-4:30 AM shift with one of America’s largest retailers.
As I reflect back on the last 8 months there are quite a few things I have learned. Here are just a few.
1. It is unbelievable, really unbelievable how much “stuff” there is to buy in this world. The next couple of observations are sort of further thought on this one.
2. H. L. Mencken (American journalist and long time writer for The Baltimore Sun)was right when he wrote: “No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public”. I believe that this quote can be updated because of my company’s presence around the world to be: “No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the human race”. The British, the French, the Czechs all buy stuff that you would really not believe is being made.
3. As for things that you would not believe is being made, I could mention many (many that I will not because of the embarrassing nature of the product) but some of my favorites are: “Tammy and Tyrone” inflatable African-American dolls and their counterparts “Judy and John” inflatable “White-people” dolls. Not for what some of you may think, just inflatable dolls. My African-American co-workers agreed with me that this had to be the crazy idea of some white man because there are just not that many black women named Tammy.
4. Years ago I became angry with my ethics professor, Dr. Reginald McLelland when he suggested that “We just have too much stuff being made. There should be a law limiting production to 5 different kinds of shampoo, 5 different kinds of deodorants, you know all that kind of stuff”. Well since seminary he is no longer Dr. McLelland to me but just plain Reg. He has become one of my closest friends and though I know it would be impossible to implement, after working at one of America’s largest retailers I tend to agree with his observation.
5. If everyone is calling you “sir” it means they think you are old.
6. If you carry around a clipboard to do your work: a) people will think you are smarter; 2) people will think you have a more important position with the company than you really do.
7. Blue collar workers, most with just a high school education, are the backbone of the American work force. Nothing would get done without this million + work force in America. I found myself making friends mostly with this group of people and enjoying their company. I did not use the “p word” around them (preacher) because I have found that if they find out you are one the no longer act like themselves around you (maybe because they have felt judged by pastors and religious folk in the past) but that when the find someone willing to listen to them they are more than happy to share their life struggles, disappointments and joys with you.
8. You do not get the same endorphin high working a 10 hour late-night shift with lots of heavy lifting as you get from a good 1 hour work out.
9. The South (at least Middle Tennessee) is still the Bible belt. One minute a co-worker would be cussing his boss or telling me of his latest romanic exploits and the next asking me when I thought “the rapture” would come.
10. I have not yet learned how long it takes to recover a regular sleep cycle. But I am working on it.
11. After working this schedule I have a greater appreciation for John Fogerty’s song: “Almost Saturday night”.