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The Buyers in Bentonville

—Carl Massad

The Buyers in Bentonville

          A Neronian eye is the Arizona sun. It stares and does not blink, not once, sears as it stares and has turned the worker into a dripping mess. He steps onto Walmart’s Curbside Pickup Parking Lot and engages in a pulling motion that begins right under his shoulder, pinching sourly his calloused palms, but causing the most pain in his feet; for they, his arches, had begun to rip. And above his head the sun pins him ridiculously to the fate of the road itself, reaching him anywhere he goes and leaks the water which is his body from his body. It fries his legs in the salt of his own sweat, and he feels them glimmer and dampen and leak terribly beneath his pants -  pants he wears for no apparent reason other than an uncertain self-consciousness and the queer affinity people in such jobs have for actions of self-negation and -humiliation.

          The Resentment had begun during the morning’s vicious trial as the coffee abandons the body. His blood sugar plummeted, and his blood cells wrenched themselves upstream, crawling so slowly like such swollen corpuscles that his veins hurt. As he indulged in the most fatal sin of checking the time he realized that he had only reached the fourth hour of the day, with five more to go.

          What he had seen that morning only he could have seen. Only some people can lay witness to some things, like how only twelve could really understand the divine significance of a crucified Nazarene, and all the cowardice and the courage, the grief and the suicide emerged as humane reactions to true, terrible Understanding. In this manner he understood that silent but deafening moment in which his ‘team lead’ had quite lustily accepted and expressed a kind of shameful thanks for half a Hershey’s bar as offered to him by a lowly ‘associate’.

          “It’s always before bed that I must eat something sweet, otherwise I can’t sleep.” He had confessed once.

          The ‘team lead’s words never left the worker, or perhaps the worker never let them go ever since he first heard them in one of their soulless, painful, professionalized conversations, riddled with excessive nodding and gracious smiles at jokes not told at all. Something about that sentence, something about the must, something about the can’t, had irked him horribly, this worker. ‘Team lead’ Gary’s shift ended an hour before that of the dispensers which he oversaw with blank, staring eyes and the demeanor of hard, tasteless, dusty, room temperature water that had been sitting on the edge of a low coffee table right under an air conditioning vent for the average dentist’s appointment wait time.

          The worker had seen so much of his ‘team lead’ that he knew the inner workings of this man’s spirit: ‘Team lead’ Gary’s soulful pulse, his initiative to life and to live, to yearn for purpose, began at the time he woke up (approx. 3.50, 4 am) at a value that was negligibly above zero, that scraped zero on its descent to hell. An addict of vaporized Raspberry Ice flavored nicotine, which he would via a set alarm wake up at midnight to use, ‘Team lead’ Gary would already be pushing the ‘picking’ cart with hunched shoulders and a clumsy-unathletic-tall man’s weary gait at 6 a.m.: exactly when his dispensers were supposed to arrive. The dispensers – of which the worker was one – tried to avoid him at this time. If they found him, or if he found them via the My Store application on his bulky handheld Touch Computer that had the location of clocked-in employees down to the aisle, it was always with the puffy, messy face of an insomniac. Not mere inflammation but glands and tumors seemed to have grown under his skin overnight. ‘Team Lead’ Gary was a bad sleeper. He carried things of the night with him into the morning. That meant that at every dawn he had some incisively acidic remark for them, either on that day’s tardiness, or that of the day before, or simply a vitriolic stare which they accepted graciously, almost so graciously as to be an admission of guilt (guilt that has settled in them ipso facto, like an original sin, at not at all times being ideal models of production. Guilt arising from the fact that they do not work as hard they can, that, in fact, half the work they do is bearing the pain of working.)

          ‘Team lead’ Gary’s start point of the soul began there. Then it rose slowly as the day progressed, as he went to lunch to have his three eggs and three quarters of an avocado (the daily meal that fueled his crusade at the gym, but that did not – i.e. the crusade did not – shave nor tighten nor pull in any of his body’s overall pudginess). Slowly, he regained his color and his face thinned and his demeanor relaxed, until finally at around 2 p.m. every day he walked into the dispensing area to take his bag and leave, and on his face as he hooked his arms under the straps was the clueless wondrous stare of a child or a schoolboy. “Have a good day guys”, he would say, exactly like a child acting nice because acting nice would get him ice cream, and exactly because the pill of the day had been swallowed and now was time for the ice cream. Just in this way the graph of his own soul’s fluctuating pulse was entirely mapped. The value as a function of T = time soared into infinity, creating the beautiful bisector of his own, personal, struggling humaneness. The worker attributed that final face of infinite glee, of soaring, glorious happiness, of transcendence almost, to the ‘team lead’’s lifelong self-deception that being done with work was a return to some kind of painless simulation of life. A return to a childhood, the worker believed, that he (‘team lead’ Gary, that is), never really moved on from. Now ‘team lead’ Gary became only Gary, with a plan to move weights half-heartedly at the gym, and after a long warm shower would slide into bed to suckle not on the sweet milk of his mother’s lactating breasts, but on pretzels and a jar of peanut butter instead. This is what the worker saw when he saw his supervisor accept a bar of chocolate from a subordinate. It was a fall from corporate Eden, but nonetheless retaining, undeservedly, the quasi-moral authority, even superiority, a ‘team lead’ always exercises over his employees. (1)


His vest like his shirt like his skin seems unbearably stuck, under-the-skin stifling and intolerably unmanageable. His sleeves slip down to his elbows and empty their contents on the floor each time he ducks, reaches or leans. The sun locks him to the ground, to time, to circumstance and a paycheck. For all his life he cannot escape it, and so he chooses to think of something else, something that outweighs the sun.

          As in all pressure-laden and trying periods sex and sexual thoughts can come to be a false salvage from the kind of solar oppression the yellow accents in the Walmart logo are meant to affect. He thinks for a moment of the bakery woman, and the thoughts she inspires come to him in long-form, stringy and slow like the sway of bead curtains on marmalade afternoons. He thinks for a few moments further about whether or not she had visited them at dispensing today. She has not, he realizes, and is pleased. He wonders if after this torturous delivery he might return to find her there and implode with glee; where he and those other three atrophied, lowly, subservient, eager-to-please dispensers would exchange glances with lithe expertise, cross-cutting across her entire body and by doing so in fact almost making her again. Making her in such a way as to take home.

          But she could not be taken home. She could not be made again. Lightning could strike a man of rubber thirteen times and she would not be made again. There were two things that offered reprieve from the day’s lashing: lunch time, and watching this woman make her Golgothian march – wherein the conditions were lain such that by the end of it her divinity and no thing less than her absolute divinity would manifest – from ugly swinging rubber doors of the dispensing room to the end of it, some thirteen steps in all. In the beginning was her face, brought from somewhere else, not molded but prefigured, intelligently designed simply to attract, like so many of the hyper-marketed – even meta-marketed – products that fill the shelves to a plump, bloated surplus; luscious and limned, perspiring products that all but mutate small, fleshy mouths and call your name in a child’s slightly resonating but not annoying, advertising-friendly voice.

          The worker had approached this woman a handful of times in the past, and had said to her things that he believed were sly, and even tongue-in-cheek confessions of attraction. Ten minutes before 2 p.m. he would pass by her ‘workspace’ (i.e., the bakery; the warm, concave, sweet-bread smell of which preceded and introduced her and was also pulled by her divinely fated walk like the silky surplus of a trailing wedding dress.) Then catching her eye or not would implore: “no te vayas”, “do not go”. “Me voy”, she would say, “I’m leaving”, and a period of longing would ensue. At other times he would say more elaborate things such as reciting the marvelously crafted first sentence of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Cien Anos de Solidad in Spanish – the “Muchos Anos despues…” that brought out of her a smile that said she was unsure of some things but that she was sure of others. Then one day he asked for her number. She informed him with an admittedly pained expression on her face that she had a novio. He responded quickly with entiendo, and it was there that it all ended.

          The Resentment had its root in what followed: The fact was that neither he nor his fellow insipid, iguana-eyed and lanky dispensers approached the woman; and while he could understand his own reluctance now, after being rejected, he could not understand theirs. Not only did they not approach her, but they did not seem to bear any burning need to approach her or the vexing sense of loss and unmanned potential at not approaching her. There was no rush, no hurry, no anxiousness in the manner they spoke of her, no query for time. They only agreed that she was beautiful, that she was desirable, that she was sexy, but nothing more; they would not be carried any further than this. So her daily march induced a great silence into the dispensing room. And in that second of silence, in those four minutes of no intent, where everyone in the room seemed to disappear at once, there were some nine bodies and not one person; in the vacuum of will, silhouettes turned to stone at the sight of her; no one desired, no one wanted, no one dared. It reminded him of what a man of independent and wildly esoteric beliefs had once told him under the bougainvillea vines in post-sectarian-strife Beirut: that some Christians were not in love with Jesus but with the cross. In fact, the psycho-spiritual realization was a thing common among many of the religious: a certain comfort retrieved in constant sacrifice, paying a price before it is due. And as the worker bent his head ever so slightly to step beneath the automatic electric door, planted his feet in the ground and engaged his core to manage the large and looming tower of totes behind him, he had realized that somewhere along those three months of work he had slipped into communion with them, in worship to God that was God not in a divine way, but that was a God of Resentment; one whom had kept them more immediately in line against Him than any loving and all-merciful God could seduce them to stand by Him. And to pray to the God of Resentment one had to make an offering of resentment, through actions that harvested frustration. The same frustration that made the paycheck that they received every two weeks such a cold and foreign body they had to swallow against the grain of their esophageal hairs. That was the God of Resentment, whose first and only eternal miracle was making inanimate that which was once animate.


          There is a time he can recall where he attempted to be nice to the consumers. He is foreign (2) and can pronounce many a complicated last name. Gazing vitriolically now at the parking lot, he remembers all the female consumers he also tried, if not seduce, then siphon some affection from; attempts that could be compounded in a single play of a thousand one-act tragicomedies in a Walmart Curbside Pickup Parking Lot.

          Today, he hates all the consumers without exception. All of them. Especially those that open their windows only halfway to speak to him, as if he were sick. And precisely those that step outside and watch him work. Without helping, with no intention of tipping (God Forbid), without even the intention to close the trunk, only to watch. He wonders why these people would ever want to do that. Is it to prevent the worker from stealing something? An act that is as simple as informing the ‘team leads’ that a product was rejected by the consumer, or informing the consumer that the product was not found; whereupon the product would be accounted for budget-wise and could be taken to the freezer (along with the cooler Walmart’s only unsurveilled ring of hell, breeding ground for consumption of nicotine and marijuana) and devoured. Or is it to make certain that all is being packed and stocked and loaded efficiently? The worker almost makes a point of throwing the bags carelessly when the consumer is watching, being himself so angry that he almost goads the consumers to say something. They never do, and for some reason there is always a tint of shame in the way their faces rest. Or is it to mock: one person is free while the other is not? Or is it just an act of profound dumbness? Maybe it is greed: a certain perverse consumer kink at seeing and taking mental inventory of all the products they [the consumer] had just bought? He hates also that one woman who shows up once, descends from the vehicle, pops open the trunk and says with a condescending, matter-of-fact, inconsiderate, end-all-be-all, implying no negotiation-or-any-need-for-negotiation-for-this-is-the-customer-tone, that although there is limited space in the trunk all the groceries must go in the trunk. As if under such laughable pay it was his responsibility at all to lean on his hips and scratch his chin and like an engineer figure out the three-dimensional spatial paradox which was this woman’s trunk. That tone is the reason in his fantastical resimulation of the event he asks her to take her large, lumpy, skin-stretched and scarred love handles, along with her fat, dimply ass, and swing them inconsiderately of course, helplessly of course, all the way into the store and down A19 where she can shop for herself and pack for herself and get that family size bag of Nacho Doritos for herself which, by the way, he doubted was what her diabetic and sexually starved physiognomy needed, some 20 grams of carbohydrates, 8 grams of total fat, and 210 mg of Sodium, all in one serving (one out of fifteen total), which he also doubted she had the self-discipline to abide by.


          Only after these series of experiences with consumers did he understand why his American coworkers always seemed so downtrodden and forlorn and humorless at work. Unlike him and his middle eastern childhood, which on paper seems (i.e. a middle eastern childhood seems) always half a hairwidth of fate away from being either exorbitantly spoiled and affluent or detrimentally harrowing and unlivable (his had lied in the normal, turbid and lukewarm middle), his kindred ‘associates’ had been players and pawns of this system since adolescence, estranging them from their childhoods, from their parents, and from themselves. But they all drive cars except for him, and navigate easily the United States’ wide and endlessly cross-cutting roads, and have mastered on the road that feeling of loneliness accompanied by the fear of loneliness, of estrangement from one’s self, the fall from clarity to confusion, confusion as the only True piercing knowledge, and the rage that pushes them to pinball themselves around states that are bigger than countries – still countries that cannot sate them; they have mastered now with their indistinct and depersonalized cars the feeling of freedom undoubtedly, but also of displacement and unfulfillment that is the cloud above the long, even endless interstate roads; they had become with that early decapitating gesture of work – similar in ferocity only to circumcision – true Americans, intelligently designed citizens of the United States.

          From this exact and somber line of thinking he came to the conclusion to stop waiting or, as was more his keen way, to stop pretending to not wait but still anticipate a ‘thank you’ from the consumers. No ‘thank you’ can substitute what had been lost here. No thank you could mean anything to him. For eight hours a day, thirteen times an hour, he was made witness to this base ritual of consumerism, forced (with resentful consent through pay) to witness for eight hours a day, thirteen times an hour, consumers roll in quickly and stop quickly, eagerly, in cars oiled sustainably by the viscosity of their own drool, check in, beckon and wait and smile with a child’s bottomless greed at seeing all their consumables roll in and get loaded into their cars.

          The human impulse to consume was therefore the one rawest within him. So that he would wince and cringe and seethe every time he bought food at work – one of the noxious paradoxes of working in a Supercenter is how tempted an employee is to reinvest a hurtful chunk of their paycheck back into the entity that paid them. So that Walmart’s dollar didn’t so much step an inch outside company doors. The products on the shelves screamed for him all day. When he stopped and stooped and put his ear to a thing it was only a whisper, and the more he tried to listen the quieter the store became and the more unintelligible the content of the whispers were. But sauntering along the aisle at the sixth hour with hamstrings sour, his skin basted in the vinegar of his sweat, the knees hyper-locked and their joints raw, it was a ululation of want that filled the warehouse, drawing him closer to Oreo Cakesters™.

          The bag of Oreo Cakesters™ was the tax. It was the tithe. Here was the libation. How do you run from that which conquers you first from within? That SAM WALTON was Walmart was God had become an easy and even superfluous statement to make. The worker had even walked into the breakroom on a fateful Friday to protest his own dehumanization (this he does by refusing to partake in the donuts that are presented each Friday free of cost because no donut could replace what had been lost here) and had instead found members of management and the entire roster of ‘team leads’ in the middle of a “WALMART CHANT!”. And this chant was a spelling of the company name along the patented rhyme “Give me an A!”, “Give me a B!” … - a chant said to have been composed by SAM WALTON himself. He sat through the whole meeting, and after each announcement on SALES or WAGES, a small “Amen” sort of closer was hummed through the hall, wherein grown men and women, workers who had experienced immigration, family deaths, war, miscarriages, poverty, anger, suicidal thoughts, marriage, ecstasy, sex, jealousy, love, hatred, would slam their hands on the table twice and shout out “teamwork!”. Adults with bad teeth and large, uncared for guts, who limped, whose breath even smelled old, were under some compulsion to partake in this. To the worker this could be no less than the workings of a God. SAM WALTON, God of Resentment, who against their every seething made them cheer. That Friday was fateful for quite a different reason as well: that by the end of the meeting the Store Manager, a 5’2’’, middle-aged Latina woman, to whom he had developed an odd attraction toward called for him by name and asked that he close out the meeting by coming to the fore of the hall and leading the chant.


          The worker pulls his weight against the ripping of his arches. Only a few more hours to bore out of the day, some thirty more trips to thirty more cars, and a semicircle of the burning sun to endure. He reaches bay three. There is the car of his assigned order. He arrives to find the delivery driver convulsing in his seat with an impatience that was absolute, axiomatic almost, with the frustration only heat and a switched off car can create. The worker had made him wait 9 minutes. Walmart policy states that the first three minutes are for preparation and delivery; so, in fact, he had only made the driver wait six minutes. Knowing and seeing all this, the worker still did not hurry his pace, because he knew that this particular delivery driver – in other words, a cuckolded consumer whose best interests state that he help load the car so he can make the trip sooner, collect his negligible tip sooner, and come back to do it all again sooner – was so lazy, dependent, spoiled, vapid, sticky-eyed, unintelligent and unaware of his hand in creating his socioeconomic state of being nor aware of the kind of agency it takes to remove himself from that state, that although he made a show of hurriedness via the popped can of White Monster Energy drink to his right, he would not even so much as step out of the car to load any of the bags or scan any of his labels, instead expecting everything to be delivered to him – he, ironically, who is the delivery driver.

          The worker takes down his driver code.


          It doesn’t work.

          “2483?!” The worker repeats, enunciating and articulating so much in the heat he was almost screaming.

          “No, 2418.”

          “Oh, alright big man!” (3)

          The code goes through. The worker scans each label on each tote with an intuitive absentmindedness.

          He walks around it and pushes it from the back, wanting to park it behind the man’s trunk. Lo and Behold, a pebble jams into the wheel of his dolly.

          There is a certain inertia that maintains its speed, a certain inertia that halts, and a certain inertia of viciousness in between it all. An inevitability has occurred. A decapitation. The gallon of milk snaps its vertebrae on the asphalt, the tote bleeds the yolk of its broken eggs, and there is little more that can be lost at all. The worker has no choice but to put on an aura of calm indifference, which itself is expressive of expertise and experience in such matters, diminishing as much as he can from the feeling of embarrassment that his innate clumsiness wreaks upon him on a daily basis.

          One of his fellow “associates” (4,5) gives him a knowing smile that only two degustateurs of shit (shit-eating ‘associates’) can give each other, and heads dutifully inside the Supercenter to repick (6) the broken items and also call on the janitor. The worker watches how the yolky eye forms itself in the puddle of milk, and then notices the puncture in the fetal film or membrane that maintains the yolk’s integrity, and he stares more intently as the yellow fat disintegrates slowly into the pearl-colored and chilled Whole like a quasar. The driver stays in his car. Not even this moves him. The worker imagines the driver now foaming at the mouth, or slamming his head repeatedly into the steering wheel until the sac of lipid fat on his forehead bursts and what he is hitting goes straight to the bone. In a moment a silence settles, and from the silence emerges a homeless man whose migratory trail includes the Curbside Pick Up Parking Lot of the Supercenter. The man’s face is like a proverb of no words. A cerebral metaphor with no need for telling. What conception the worker had of a prophet’s face: ugly in its unkempt way, but wildly interesting to perceive.

          “How are you?!” The homeless man says at such a volume that it was a hint he was hard of hearing. The worker has his hands on his hips; he makes sure to offer the homeless man his eyes and attention.

          “Pretty good brother, what about yourself?”

          “Good, good.”, which sounds more like a long, wounded grunt.

          “That’s good, brother!”

          “Makin’ money?”

          “Yes sir! Everyday!”

          “How much?” He screams, but with a genuine, concerned curiosity one finds in the questioning of a nosey relative.

          The question perturbs the worker’s entire layered and lapping mental processes that have along with his physical processes brought him in this state to that car at that hour and minute to see that man, and replaces everything with a single answer that was the number 68. And next to the number was a symbol that was created to give it context, and the symbol was “$”. And although the worker has in reality answered “not enough, brother”, which makes the homeless man in turn laugh and return to his trail, the answer in that surreality of his being wherein all truths are hidden but cannot be expressed, was $68. For four hours of work, he has produced enough value to equate 68$, and it broke his heart. His ripped arches, his resentment, his frustration, his tolerance of vitriol, his tolerance of heat ( which was more of an intolerance borne), his patience with the consumers in reality as opposed to how much hatred he holds for them in his surreality, his endless tithes to SAM WALTON (pbuh), his bearing the nymphic chants of marketed goods, his rebellion against the atrophy of his own mind under the fluorescence of the fridge lights and ceiling lights, and the skylights which are only bright and do only blur the definition of the sky above them to probably limit the imagination of a better outside during working hours, like how a casino treats its users, is all worth, after state and federal tax, $63.12 exactly.

          He watches the homeless man leave, pushing (the homeless man is) a shopping cart of his own, filled with marketed goods of his own – ones he had either stolen or rummaged in the garbage for. This brings out of the worker a teary-eyed chuckle that emerges only when extreme happiness and extreme sadness meet somewhere in negative anti-space.  In the moment of thoughtlessness, he is relieved to feel a great letting of hate from his heart, in the moment of no judgement his surreality and reality become one. The thought-of word, the spoken word, the written word, the signed word, the hurtful word, the rebellious word, the lovely word, any vestige of human ability to color the world with subjectivity, is truly and wholly forgotten. Only a mute intake. His laughter is acknowledgement and denial, frustration and relief, the courage, the cowardice, the grief and the suicide. He has been inserting too much of himself into the work, but could the solution be to insert as little as was humanly possible of his self – of he, him, what he was – to treat the job as coldly as the job treated him? Was that even possible? Who would win in a fight between an animate and inanimate thing?

          Later that day he will be pulled by ‘team lead’ Ignatius – a man addicted to the “walk and talk” in all its Hollywood pretentiousness, a big fan of operating under Corporate America, a man so ignorant that even ‘team lead’ Gary would sometimes stay quiet when ‘team lead’ Ignatius spoke in the same way a stoic or wise man would rather not speak than embarrass his interlocutor – and taken to the “Ad Office” for a talk on productivity and tardiness.

          ‘Team lead’ Ignatius will swing his feet from the desk he is sitting on in a modern-on-the-ground-one-of-the-‘associates’ managerial style. He will twirl his wrist to reposition his watch and wriggle his back to manage his pain – the pain in his back that seemed to be the only mature thing he had brought with him from service in the navy.

          ‘Team lead’ Ignatius will begin with accusations ranging from inappropriate jokes to the lack of quality checks being done during the little down time they usually have to the excessive “jacking of jaws” – an expression that when used prompts another sermon on inappropriate jokes, giving the whole speech a kind of timeless fluidity, a postmodern self-referentiality that is brain-numbing and frustrating in the way perfectly bad traffic can be. He will ask the worker to imagine the hungry cries of a child and here now her mother feeding her powdered milk that had not been quality checked. Then he will backtrack and arrest his momentum by admitting that expired powdered milk can do no harm to a child.

          He will close his eyes as he pours over long and indulgent sentences, and will now bring up the supposedly true case, right Gary, of a 70-year-old woman he believed it was, right Gary, who had complained about receiving three week expired sour cream. And that although it was not directly the worker’s fault, it was obliquely, atmospherically, intuitively, in some way the worker’s fault, and that he should stills bear some of that vague, spectral, Gaussian, spiritual fault, because, well, what if it was his grandmother.

          “Yeah.” The worker will say, as somberly as he will be able to make a syllable sound.

          ‘Team lead’ Gary will swivel around in his chair after giving ‘Team lead’ Ignatius some time to exhaust his imagination. He will be ready to give a more concise, clear-cut and rational warning.

          He will start with “Alright, so…” but then begin to laugh. He will laugh and laugh and apologize and laugh again. His laugh will spill from his belly and fill the room, and he will be helpless to stop it.

          “What?” The worker will ask, quite slyly, quite tongue-in-cheek.

          On ‘Team lead’ Ignatius’s flat face will be a smile that expresses quite naively: “I’m glad we are bringing some much needed levity to such a serious and stressful situation.”

          To the worker, it will barely be a situation at all; it will be more like a play wherein he watches the actor in character laughing a little too candidly, with a little too much candor, and all the dairy-like quality of innocence and fear which the words “candor” and “candid”, for some reason, carry. He will sense the presence of SAM WALTON in the room, or his own presence in one of SAM WALTON’S Saturday conferences, and he will see himself with the fever of a Walmartian workaholic, creating promotional strategies for himself, to dupe himself, and lose himself, but also profit from himself; for he, they the ‘team leads’, they the ‘associates’, the loyal, the conflicted, the resentful consumers, they were all Buyers in Bentonville, Sons of the one First and Fatherly Buyer in Bentonville, now buried in Bentonville; what they buy they will have sold for, they will have been squeezed for, and the cost of it all will be well hidden, on its quiet way to be forgotten.


1. It will later be revealed to the worker that ‘TL’ Gary’s Achilles’ heel had been sweet treats in a kind of false way, as a substitute for his true dark genetic misgiving characterized by a tendency toward alcoholism and an ensuing tendency toward violent behavior. The news will make clear or at least easy to assume what had been keeping ‘Tl’G up at night, along with his poison-spewing morning pick walks and that impulsive jut toward chocolate or sweet gum or really salty beef jerky which he had never really learned to discipline. It will add a new shade to the worker’s understanding of darkness, and will confirm still further how SAM WALTON’S brother (who had actually himself been the negotiator) wrings every sweet and unsweet dollar out of every deal. They call it the Squeeze. Some three months after this worker’s Day of Resentment, ‘TL’ Gary will be officially and coldly relieved of his services after rumors of an apparent relapse.

2. The worker’s parents are at this moment, he remembers, enduring the quite absurd and traumatizing experience of living in such a country as Lebanon post-2017, for a reason he was sure was some kind of sacrifice (the undisclosed condition of which was only that he try and not work a job that was somehow more menial and despairing than theirs.)

3. This is exactly the kind of Lebanese-service-economy hospitality, the worker realizes, and false, festering warmth that had made the Lebanese civil war a home for over thirteen countries, some six different religious sects, and countless clashing and unrelated causes.

4. Christened as such by SAM WALTON himself, whom it is rumored had no issue in stooping, quite graciously and without query, so low as to engage with the commoners that worked for him, and, in an act of almost divine meekness and self-flagellation, converse with and even take ideas from them, which he then harnessed and directed towards building his gigantic, awe-inspiring, Leviathanic, All-American American Empire, unseen since Babylonia, which now spearheads the economy of the United States. A whale so large that it could only move slowly, and the waves that rolled off its back so colossal that each would beach a million smaller whales and flood entire coastal cities. The empire to end all empires – as in literally to spread eternal overcast and biblical drought against all other shrinking retailers {four local retailers for every one Walmart opened, to be exact (Basker)}- but the employees are regarded as ‘associates’, ‘partners in crime’, ‘consiglieres’ almost.

5. Emek Basker; Job Creation or Destruction? Labor Market Effects of Wal-Mart Expansion. The Review of Economics and Statistics 2005; 87 (1): 174–183. doi: 

6. The section of the job that requires an ‘associate’ to gather items from within the store - items transmitted to the ‘associate’ via their “TC” – is called, quite horrifyingly, picking. It made the worker wonder how the largest private employer in the world, with such a universally insipid, uninteresting brand – a brand wrung to asphyxiation by corporate marketers and mission statements including words like “hard work”, “excellence”, “Greet. Approach. Thank strategy” – could have chosen such a heinous word for such an action, a word that dehumanized his work. But bringing up this issue to ‘team lead’ Gary or ‘team lead’ Ignatius by referring to the word’s “uncomely historical connotation” provoked from them only a small smile. The smile said, “funny observation, but get back to work.”.


CARL MASSAD is a fiction writer, a Walmart associate and a part-time bodybuilder. He holds a Bachelor’s in English Literature and another in Filmmaking Practices from Arizona State University. He is entirely conflicted on all life issues, but seems intent on drawing them out in excruciating detail. He was born in Lebanon in 2001.

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