Tale Of A 16-Year-Old Kmart Employee

Despite the common stereotype, there are some young people willing to work hard. Patrick found a job at Kmart since it is one of few stores that starts hiring at age 16. He was hired under the guise of Customer Service Representative, but Patrick soon realized he was really the “Coach’s Bitch.” Besides being treated as nothing more than a slaveboy, Patrick says he was instructed to do things that are illegal for minors. His letter, inside…

My experience working at the big K is over! Thank god. I can say, what everybody says about working there is true. It is a horrible place to work.

First the enviroment. It sucks. It’s dirty. I NEVER worked where I was hired for (Customer Service). I instead worked “MISC-UTILITY”, also known as runner, or “the Coach’s Bitch”, where I was asked to do illegal things, such as:

* Cleaning crap (literally crap) off the walls without gloves or other safety and health gear
* Working Freight Elevators (that broke down frequently)
* Handling spent and leaking batteries without proper safety equipment
* Running compactors and balers
* Working with chemicals that could probably sterilize a cat

The management? Don’t get me started. We call them coaches because “we’re a team!” Ha! The bureaucracy is bull. They care more about the bottom line than the safety of their employees. Case in point: I had a severe asthma attack while cleaning Infants/Softlines. I went to the coach to tell them that I was not able to complete my job. She called me a liar. She then sent me out to go collect shopping carts…hello?!

When I came in today, I was confronted my the head coach, who told me that I had signed that I didn’t have a medical condition that would affect my job. I assured I didn’t, as long as I was working customer service, or working in a section, and that if I knew I would be working the stockroom and pushing carts, I would have never applied.

The workers. Most of them are drunk half of the time. The other half are just jerks. They do nothing, and hurt the bottom line more than anything, and they are gods to the coaches, meanwhile I work my ass off and get barked at for not being good enough and not “showing enough initiative in my work.”

Furthermore, after I had put in my 2 weeks notice, they refused to schedule me. Now, there are 2 ways to have off of work, “NO AV” or not active or “OFF” requested time off. On my normal working days, it said “OFF.” Great, made them look like gods. It makes me look like crap. To corporate it looks like I put in my 2 weeks and then took vacation, and it makes the store look generous enough to give it to me.

I said goodbye to Sears Holdings for good tonight. When I left, the coach on duty asked me if I was ever going to visit again. I think you can all infer my answer to that.

It looks like you learned an important lesson at an early age, Patrick. Kmart sucks.


Edit Your Comment

  1. And that, young Patrick, is why you should study extra hard in college so that you never have to work anywhere near retail ever again.

  2. ElizabethD says:

    Patrick writes really well for a 16 year old. Think Ivy League, Pat! Someday you can buy K-Mart and shut them down.

  3. Gopher bond says:

    Err, yeah, that’s the kind of crap work you get when you’re 16 isn’t it? Shoot, I was running balers and forklifts and unloading trucks and fixing broken down refrigeration units at the Grocery store when I was hired to be a “bagger”. I also had to clean the bathrooms. But I didn’t know it was illegal.

    I also worked at Kmart, for like 3 weeks, and I stole a box of golf clubs as compensation, still have them. Kmary sucked back then too.

  4. MercuryPDX says:

    Look at it this way kid…. if you ever needed a reason to go to college, this is it.

  5. PageEris says:

    @Princess Sparkle Pony:
    Wow. That kid types incredibly well for a 16 year old. Well versed in
    grammar and vocabulary!
    He must remember that no retail establishment such as K-mart will ever
    be a “fun” or “enjoyable” place to work.
    I served time at the Wal-Mart/Sams club prison. Needless to say it was
    all the same. You bust tail, they bring you down a few pegs. They do
    illegal things, you have no control over it, either do it or get fired.

  6. Skankingmike says:

    why would you clean stuff up like that? sounds pretty stupid to me. If they told me to touch leaking batteries I would’ve said to stick it where the sun don’t shine and then call the Health Dept, EPA and local newspaper.

    When I was 16 I worked at a Local Supermarket/ wanna be walmart. But the difference was it was a Union. The manager would say something to me and i would simply go.. “oh, well lets call my union rep and ask her what she thinks about that.” but again that was union. Sometimes i miss that.

  7. samson says:

    Yes Yes run from customer service like your running for your life, because you are.

  8. jimv2000 says:

    “Mr. Coach Person! I just had an asthma attack while cleaning infants/soflines!”

    “Sounds like you need some fresh air. Go bring in the carts!”

  9. Bladefist says:

    I worked in a warehouse when I was 14 until 18. I sweat my balls off in the summer and then froze them off in the winter. All for 6 bux a hour. My boss would literally curse me out in front of everyone for missing a spot when mopping a warehouse that is larger then a walmart.

    So I think your main valid complaint is that you were not assigned the job you applied for.

  10. Bladefist says:

    oh man I just realized I sound like the “I had to walk to school in the snow barefoot”

    I’m gonna go shoot myself.

  11. Gopher bond says:

    @MercuryPDX: I think everyone should have to work a customer service job as part of the high school curiculuum. I think it’d be quite motivating.

  12. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    I’m interested to know how long he worked there, under those conditions.

  13. opfreak says:

    sound like a lazy kid that doesn’t like work.

    lets cry me a river.

  14. embean says:

    I assume he didn’t have to pay rent or anything. I would have just quit. Or filed a complaint.

  15. amv09 says:

    @testsicles: He’s referring to the fact that you have to be at least 18 years old to operate a freight elevator. I’m not so sure about a baler or a compactor, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the same rules applied.

  16. Ben Popken says:

    I worked in a movie theater when I was 16. It was pretty awesome but on more than one occasion someone crapped in the middle of the women’s bathroom floor and I had to clean it up. I was so glad to be out of the house though that I didn’t really mind.

  17. pplude92 says:


    I worked there for about 2 months

  18. Antediluvian says:

    I’m an excellent driver.

  19. MercuryPDX says:

    @testsicles: Seven years of bartending and I COMPLETELY agree. :)

  20. Bladefist says:

    @Ben Popken: Sorry about that. I was in a hurry to get back to my movie, and couldn’t find the mens.

  21. forgottenpassword says:

    LOL! My first job was a “stockman” at walmart. In other words…. lowest pee-on on the totem pole. Yep! I cleaned bathrooms, emptied trash, brought in carts, stocked shelves, operated the bailer (illegal at age 16), picked up parking lot trash etc.etc..

    I lasted about a year & a half before one assistant manager (little bald man with a insecurity complex who liked bullying the stockmen) pissed me off so much that I walked out. And let me tell you…. it was the best decision that I ever made. I know people who have spent most of their life working at walmart. Sounds depressing doesnt it?

  22. NotATool says:

    @Bladefist: That’s nothing. I had to walk in the snow barefoot, uphill, both ways, while pulling a sled with my six brothers on it.

  23. muffinpan says:

    your 16 be quiet and do what your told. Remember kid thats gonna be your life if you don’t get an education. Imagine doing that crap job because you have a mortgage to pay and kids at home to feed. Don’t let it be like that. Let this be a brief glimpse of your possible future if you don’t make good choices. So keep it in your pants and get an education. And, oh yeah, carry an inhaler will ya.

  24. lalaland13 says:

    I had a similar experience, but mine happened when I was 18 at McDonalds. My boss was a McBitch and I was working my ass off but not doing that great. There are worse things to be bad at than McDonalds worker, I know, but I still felt like crap at the time. I kept getting moved around. Then the boss calls me in to start asking me stuff like, “Are you good at school?” (The answer was yes) and said, “I think service confuses you” and “It’s time to shit or get off the pot.” If I didn’t get better in a week, she was going to fire me. She was a total jerk even before then, but that was it. I quit shortly after that. But it did teach me to be a little nicer to fast food workers and also, finish college.

  25. lalaland13 says:

    @muffinpan: Grandpa? Is that you?

  26. Gopher bond says:

    @Ben Popken: Ugh, I was a janitor and I don’t care what women say, I ALWAYS was more scared of what I may find walking into the women’s bathroom than the men’s. Women are gross pigs when it comes to public bathrooms.

  27. MissPeacock says:

    I wouldn’t put anything past Kmart. I’ve posted here before about how there was a dead rat under my register (where it was not immediately reachable, but still) for over a week and I was handed a can of Lysol and told to spray if the customers noticed a smell. We also kept out the candy that the rats had gone through the night before, taking out only the bars that the rats had clearly gnawed through. I had to dump the rat pellets out of the candy boxes before the customers came in.

    It is not a good place for the soul.

  28. Gopher bond says:

    @MissPeacock: “I had to dump the rat pellets out of the candy boxes before the customers came in.”

    Poison pellets or crap pellets? Neither one is particulary appealing I suppose.

  29. ssaoi says:

    I remember fondly the early days of teen employment. My first day at a fast food restaurant, the manager noticed the dumpster was getting full, so she had me climb on top (of the dumpster) and jump up and down to compact the trash. Then I went back to serving food. Great times.

    Between that job and roofing the next summer, I had all the motivation i needed to go to college. Now I can read the consumerist all day at work!

  30. balthisar says:

    You know, all I really want to say is, for reason I can’t explain, the picture for the article is fascinating. I love it!

  31. camman68 says:


  32. crispykickz says:

    If Rain Man could figure out that Kmart Sucks, why can’t the rest of the country figure this out too. :)

  33. MissPeacock says:

    @testsicles: Crap pellets. The thought that Kmart was going to do ANYTHING about their clear rat problem is hilarious. Actually, it was only when a customer saw one running around by the registers one morning and spoke to the manager that something was done.

  34. MissPeacock says:

    @balthisar: I think it’s fascinating because the parking lot in front of a Kmart is actually FULL and not empty.

  35. HIV 2 Elway says:

    Screw working shit jobs as a teen. I spent all my summers umpiring little kids baseball. Besides, the asshole parents its still the best job I’ve ever had.

  36. evslin says:

    @forgottenpassword: Yech, I know people who worked the stockman position at Wal-Mart and nobody had anything good to say about it.

    Target treats their peons a lot better.

  37. thesepretzels says:

    One would think we would post “my job stinks” letters from someone with a little more perspective.

  38. Gopher bond says:

    @thesepretzels: I agree, nothing seems particularly horrendous about his experience, other than its a typical job at K-Mart. Your 16 and can’t collect carts or clean up the aisles? Boo hoo. Find another job I guess.

  39. A couple quick points of dispute:

    1) The average line-level supervisor most likely does not know the age of their employees and will ASSUME the child is 18, thus old enough to operate age restricted equipment. Yes HR knows the age of the child, but HR is prohibited from broadcasting the age of the child. Tough situation. Thus, if the OP is going to cry over being forced to do something “illegal” the OP does have an obligation to vocally state his/her reasons of objection at the time of the incident.

    2) The coach disagreed with the level of severity of the asthma attack. Must not have been very severe. A severe asthma attack would have prompted me to call 911 and I assume most other people as well. Oh, I agree that fragerances can cause and attack… would have cause my attack as well. But let’s leave the word severe out of the description unless oxygen and drugs are being administered by emergency personnel called to the scene to treat the victim.

    3) Giving notice often results in employees being immediately terminated from the work place. The company will refer to the action as “paid release” or some other phrase. Basically the company wants the departing employee to vacate the business so that potential wrong doings are minimized. This is especially common with employees that may have access to $ or inventory.

  40. consumersaur says:

    @thesepretzels: One might think we could all have a chuckle at an experience most of us shared at 16, lighten up a little for a Friday and quit taking things “Very seriously.”

  41. crazybutch says:

    @testsicles: i know what you mean about about women’s restrooms. being a chic myself, i see it all. the ones at Target… : poop on the floor, on the walls, used toilet paper that’s been thrown around, used maxi pads and tampons out in the open. i just wonder what the hell these people are thinking.i mean, we have toilets, but you insist on smearing it on the wall???!!

  42. Skankingmike says:

    My great aunt always says “Life’s a Bitch and then you die.”

  43. 9900dude says:

    @ssaoi: You did that too? I thought I was the only poor schmuck that was forced to stomp on the garbage dumpster to make more room. This was at a Winn Dixie in Louisiana. Glad those days are long gone, and I finished college. :-)

  44. kmiles says:

    My first job was at a restaurant and it wasn’t too bad, but I think I lucked out. Routinely the girls I worked with had to braid the manager’s mullet… thank goodness I never had to.

  45. The Porkchop Express says:

    @amv09: yeah, you do have to be 18 to run those at K-Mart, I know this because I worked at one. Our bosses were ok though.

  46. nrich239 says:

    @MissPeacock: If you look closer, you’ll notice the cars in the parking lot and that should help you with the date of the photo

  47. MissPeacock says:

    @crazybutch: OMG! I totally went in a Target restroom one day and saw an actual turd in the middle of the floor. I almost threw up, it was so gross. They have such nice stores, but the bathrooms are inevitably a war-zone.

  48. ToiletJack says:

    I have a hard time believing anything said by somebody who says “Gosh, I just worked so hard, busted my tail 24/7, and they hated me, meanwhile, people who did nothing were treated like superstars!” I’ve seen managers play favorites, but even in my crummiest job (Wal-Mart) was this even close to being true. I bet if you asked everybody at that store the same question, they’d all reply that they work far, far harder than everybody else, and get compensated less.

  49. IphtashuFitz says:

    My first summer jobs were working the counter at a Friendly’s Restaurant, where you mostly make various ice cream concoctions for customers and also take the money from people who came in to eat. It was somewhat messy, and since I worked in a popular summer spot it was always very busy. But the people were nice, and since it was a chain with a decent reputation there was a good focus on safety, cleanliness, etc. Of course by the end of each summer I swore off all ice cream forever, but that never lasted very long…

  50. crackblind says:

    I had a job one summer working for a pool supply company. Made the floaty ropes that are used to set up lanes, pack up kickboards for shipping, stuff like that. Taught me the true meaning of careless because I couldn’t care less how I did. I knew they desperately needed me & I was gone come September.

  51. Gopher bond says:

    @crazybutch: It’s true, here’s my most often uttered phrases upon entering to clean a women’s bathroom:

    “What the…wha?”
    “What is that…thing..stuff, and in it?”
    “How in the hell did…so high up…with what?”
    “May God have mercy on my soul.”

  52. Invalid_User_Name says:

    Kids….we can all go to college and still have to deal with crap. Just a different kind.

    Go Patrick! You’ll do fine.

  53. Jetgirly says:

    @testsicles: Try pulling out a tampon and putting a new one back in while holding onto your purse (or better yet, your backpack full of textbooks) because the stall doesn’t have a hook, and then realizing there’s no toilet paper. Even better, do it in a long skirt. I’ve definitely never left a public bathroom in a worse state than I found it, but I can see why messes occur.


    I worked retail all through high school and university, and I think it was overall a positive experience and the money I made accurately reflected the complexity of my job. I made some good choices in terms of where I worked, and places like Walmart or McDonalds weren’t even up for consideration. I did walk off one job, but it wasn’t my fault! Really! I gave my notice at The Bay (a Canadian diepartment store) because I had a heavy university semester. I had been hired as seasonal help over the holidays and hadn’t liked the atmosphere. On my last day my boss asked me if she could keep my name on the schedule in case there was an emergency and they needed someone to cover a shift. I reluctantly said okay because I figured if they called me in I could decline without problem. FOUR MONTHS LATER I get an angry call from the same boss, saying “WHY AREN’T YOU HERE?” Ummm… because I don’t work there anymore? Apparently, after FOUR MONTHS, she had scheduled me for a shift and not bothered to call and let me know. It could’nt have been an emergency if the shift was on the schedule! Well… I needed some extra cash at the time because I decided to do an entire year’s worth of classes over one summer semester, so I agreed to work a few hours a week. After three months my boss pulled me into her office and said, “Your sales figures for last month are not acceptable. In Week One, 9% of the merchandise you sold was returned, In Week Two, 10% of the merchandise you sold was returned, in Week Three, 10% of the merchandise you sold was returned, and in Week Four, 11% of the merchandise you sold was returned. YOU HAVE A FORTY PERCENT RETURN RATE! Almost half of what you sell is coming back! This is unacceptable!” I could hardly keep a straight face. I left her office, went home, wrote my resignation letter and quit for good. Forty percent!

  54. Juggernaut says:

    My first job, I was the mate on a tiny ship. We left from a tropic port on a three day tour…


  55. Mayor McRib says:

    I started working as a “seamans apprentice” at Long Johns the day after my 16th birthday. I learned that if you bust your ass someday you can become the assistant manager. I learned that I definitely needed to go to college and to never eat hushpuppies again.

  56. MissPeacock says:

    @Mayor McRib: The lead singer of the Flaming Lips worked as a Long John Silver’s cook for more than 10 years. I think it’s cool that he took a job that most people would have no respect for and used his earnings to do what he dreamed of doing: playing music.

    From the Wiki:

    Coyne worked as a fry cook at a Long John Silver’s restaurant for 11 years, and was awarded a special badge to honor his service. Although he had been toying with an acoustic guitar since he was fourteen, it was this job which enabled him to purchase an electric guitar, a Les Paul, which he did after eight months of employment. Wayne was a senior in high school at the time.[5]

  57. Gopher bond says:

    @Jetgirly: Most of the messes had nothing to do with women-only matters. Smearing all kinds of stuff on walls, and sticking used toilet paper and used other things to doors. This was predominantly in the women’s bathrooms. Women are far more piggish than men when it comes to public restrooms.

    I would think you’d have a hard time finding any person that worked any length of time cleaning public restrooms to disagree.

  58. Mayor McRib says:

    Let me tell you, that’s not easy work either. You get molten grease splatting all over you. I had burns all over my hands. Not to mention the time all my finders went in, strangely they didn’t burn. For you LJS fans just know that they recycle the vat great every night and put it in this machine with some cleaner that spits it right back in.

  59. amodlin says:

    @Bladefist: You made me laugh out loud and I got strange looks from my office mate :|

  60. Sndtrkman says:

    My first job was at McDevil’s when I was 15, I learned the value of an education from that job and glad that I quit that hellhole.

    One of my more disgusting jobs was working as a Porter (fancy term for janitor) at a local bowling alley. Nothing says illegal like stocking the bar up with beer, cleaning the women’s bathroom after some woman had too much to drink (they didnt have gloves for me to use) and taking out loads of trash that almost messed up my lower back. The final straw in that place was that some customer ordered a pizza, and I brought it to their lane. They said it wasn’t cut enough so I took it back, had it cut and brought it to them. Apparently it wasn’t to their liking and wanted it done again which prompted me saying “we have knives up front, cut it yourself.” Well suffice to say my boss yelled at me, told me to bring them the newly cut pizza and I refused. He came back and told me that if he has to do my job then I should just leave. I did just that and two days later I quit. Thank god it only lasted 3 months otherwise if it had lasted longer I would have killed myself lol.

  61. ekthesy says:

    Another thing to note is that he felt he was doing more work than his colleagues. Important lesson learned: if you are a gung-ho eager beaver, you’re going to end up working longer and harder than most of your colleagues. Most people, especially at the retail level, seem to be determined to do as little as possible without getting fired.

  62. blong81 says:

    Told you teenagers weren’t stupid.

  63. angryhippo says:

    @evslin: @evslin: “Target treats their peons a lot better. “

    Oh god no… My first job was working in the stock dungeon. I had a coked-up manager who didn’t care who knew or saw, floor people who thought it heresy if we dared set foot out of the back and a 3am start time. Looking back it kinda set the tone of what “do not want” was to me.

  64. Jesse says:

    I worked at a grocery store through High School and a gas station through college. The work in general, odd hours, your store always being either under or overstaffed and the customers you had to deal was never pleasant.

    Retail sucks, but it’s pretty gratifying when you realize that you are probably making more at your entry level job out of college than your retail managers who have permanently plateaued in their careers

  65. @Antediluvian: I drove slow on the driveway when my dad came to Walbrook.

  66. aka Cat says:

    @MissPeacock: Look at the age of those cars — not a one is from 1980 or later.

    Back in the day (mid-80s), the K-Mart near me had a decent auto department. It was also the largest store in town (we didn’t get a Wal-Mart until the mid-90s, I don’t know if they ever got a Target.)

    It was still crumby and a bit dingy, but no competition (and one good department) will fill up a parking lot.

  67. Juggernaut says:

    @testsicles: @Jetgirly: I owned a bar on a boardwalk in NJ and from experience, the gals room was disgusting!! The guys “pissed” all over the mens but I saw things in the ladies that just shouldn’t happen!

  68. savvy999 says:

    Working at a factory during my teen years, as bladefist put it– hot as hell in the summer, cold as ice in the winter– actually did give me quite a bit of motivation to eventually get a PhD.

    No way I was spending the next 50 years of my life doing that. Decent work, decent money, but damn, lousy conversation during lunchtime.

  69. GirlCat says:

    @NotATool: You had a sled? Luxury.

  70. Gopher bond says:

    @Juggernaut: No surprise to me. The worst thing in the guys room is pee on everything or poop on the toilet seat but the men’s bathroom never made me say, “Why in the hell would someone do that?”

  71. MrMold says:

    After 35+ jobs, I would hazard that most 16 yo overestimate their skills and importance to the company. They are assigned the entry-level positions for good reason.
    From his tale, I would likely assume Mr Entitled felt that KDork should immediately promote him to Chief Slacking Officer and pay him for rollin’ wit’ his homies.
    Asthma my @ss. Sounds more like he tried to pull the same crap that worked so well in school. Teachers have to assume you are in distress. Bosses don’t.

  72. failurate says:

    I worked on a pig farm @ 16. Was a go-for/skinny kid that can fit into tight spots for a plumbing and A/C place @ 17. Rotary manufacturing line worker @ 18. A warehouse worker @ 19. A janitor @ 20. And finally an office worker @ 21 to current.
    There are very few “great jobs” for unskilled workers. Learn what you can from every job you get, no matter how crummy it is.

  73. MrMold says:

    Savvy999 put it best. The folks that toil in the fields of woe aren’t bad..just not very interesting, except to others like themselves.

  74. mc101 says:

    Regarding the picture, I suspect a K-mart lot hasn’t been that full since the 70’s…every time I drive by one there are only a handful or cars, and no I wouldn’t go in there ever again–last time I ventured in, I thought I was lost in a Twilight Zone episode

  75. evslin says:

    @angryhippo: I worked in the stockroom for a year and a half, and the front vs. back thing was very much in play there too. But in the end, everybody’s still a peon and everybody was more or less treated equally by the folks upstairs.

    If anything, the sales floor folks had it worse because there was pressure on them to turn in Target Visa applications that we didn’t have to deal with in the stockroom.

    A 3am start time has gotta suck though, I do not envy anybody who has to start work at that time.

  76. majortom1029 says:

    I must have gotten luck. i worked for a restaurant called surfs out when i was in high school. It was the best place that i have ever worked out. Clean,safe and good people. too Bad it closed down because it couldn’t get the business in the winter( it was on the water).

  77. Tiber says:

    People seem to think this is just a matter of having to do work not in his job description. Are people overlooking the part about handling batteries that are leaking acid? The other parts I could accept even though they were disgusting, but that’s a big safety violation, not just “retail sucks”.

  78. TWinter says:

    @Corporate-Shill: HR can and should be telling managers the age of employees when it is necessary to comply with governmental regulations concerning underage workers. I see evidence of this at my local supermarket all the time – employees under the age of 18 are not allowed to touch alcohol by they state, they can’t scan it, they can’t bag it, and they can’t put the bag into your grocery cart. If I buy a six pack when one of the kids is working, they blink their light and an assistant manager comes and scans my beer.

    The difference – my local supermarket will loose its license and wads of money if they are caught letting a minor do something they aren’t allowed to do while K-Mart risks getting some sort of warning letter from whatever government agency is responsible for this stuff in the very unlikely event that a 16 year old reports being forced to run a freight elevator.

  79. Gopher bond says:

    @Tiber: “Are people overlooking the part about handling batteries that are leaking acid? “

    That’s not a big deal, batteries leak, someone needs to clean them up. It’s not toxic waste and the acid isn’t even that strong. You go to the cleaning supplies section, rip open a pair of the best dish gloves and then grab a mop and a shovel and scoop the thing up and dump it in the garbage can.

    Voila, it’s not bomb disposal. If anyone complains about the job you did or that you didn’t dispose of it properly saying “Hey, I’m only 16!” will work 100% of the time.

  80. moore850 says:

    I don’t think it’s made up… running a baler sounds like a very specific thing that you wouldn’t know they made kids do at kmart unless you’d had it happen to you.

  81. HungryGrrl says:


    Forget the big boxes. My first job was as a screen printers assistant in a small shop that specialized in shirts for Karate Studios. It ruled, and it was under the table.

    Young boys really do get the shit end of the stick in any entry level position. Bussing tables, doing carts, taking out garbage. It’s unfair but it’s universal. So think small companies.

  82. silver-spork says:

    Running the baler and other heavy equipment and cleaning up feces without protective equipment is not kosher. Call OSHA and report it. Oh and get checked for hepatitis, especially if you have not had the vaccination.

  83. pplude92 says:

    @silver-spork: I’ve already got the forms to file with OSHA. I know all about it.

    As for the HEP test, I’ve had the vaccination, and as both my parrents work at our local hospital, I was tested immediately. Negative thankfully. Thanks for the concern.

  84. Christo67 says:

    My favorite task at the hardware store I worked when I was 16 was pulling down 50 lb lawnmower boxes, stacked 8-10 high with a ladder leaned up against the boxes. You get really good at balancing after doing that 4 or 5 times. Or the time my boss gave me 4 bottles of concentrated weed killer and a gallon spray tank. He told me to go out into the parking lot and kill all the weeds surrounding the area and don’t bother adding water to the killer, it’ll remove them faster. Spraying that stuff on a hot sunny day with no respirator.. man, I never felt more ill my entire life. Good times being 16.

  85. Concerned_Citizen says:

    It sucks, but you are a temporary employee you are there to basically relieve everyone else. And being male means you do all the heavy lifting, moving, and physical labor. So you can either wear a dress and work asa a female so you would get that customer service job, or go from store to store working like crap and refusing to do the hard labor for other people. You may make it 2 weeks a piece at each store, which if there are enough stores you will be able to be employed all summer.

  86. Gopher bond says:

    @silver-spork: ” Oh and get checked for hepatitis, especially if you have not had the vaccination. “

    Oh geez, he was supposed to clean it, not lick it off the walls.

  87. retailnomore says:

    Darryl: How many people a year do you think get their arms cut off in a baler?
    Michael: Bal ‘er? I hardly know her.

  88. selectman says:



    You were lucky. We lived for three months in a paper bag in a septic tank. We used to have to get up at six in the morning, clean the paper bag, eat a crust of stale bread, go to work down t’ mill, fourteen hours a day, week-in week-out, for sixpence a week, and when we got home our Dad would thrash us to sleep wi’ his belt.


    Luxury. We used to have to get out of the lake at six o’clock in the morning, clean the lake, eat a handful of ‘ot gravel, work twenty hour day at mill for tuppence a month, come home, and Dad would thrash us to sleep with a broken bottle, if we were lucky!

  89. girly says:

    Isn’t it funny the less they pay you the more they treat you like a slave. If companies should trying to get their money’s worth from anybody, it should be the people they pay the most.

  90. Angryrider says:

    He took all that crap and still didn’t report the store to the authorities. Even though you are a minor, you still have rights.

  91. sweetpea12 says:

    I think working retail anywhere pretty much sucks. When I was a teenager, I worked for Crabtree and Evelyn. My manager asked us if we knew any dealers to get her drugs, showed up to work drunk, and frequently asked me to skip school to go to work. Ahhh to be young again.

    Please avoid working retail if you can help it.

  92. MissPeacock says:

    @CatMoran: @nrich239: I can tell how old the photo is. I was making a joke about the parking lot being full.

  93. ThinkerTDM says:

    Wah! I was expecting a job where I could just play XBOX all day! No one told me I had to work!

  94. girly says:

    @sweetpea12: and being exposed to the general public is scary, too!

  95. floyderdc says:


    why can’t a person state “the way things are” without being labled as a crybaby? I mean I don’t think the OP wants a pity party but is just saying how things are. I mean sometimes things suck, if I say they suck does that make me a complainer.

  96. TheNerd says:

    “Cleaning crap (literally crap) off the walls without gloves or other safety and health gear”

    I used to work at Kmart. This never happened to me, but to several of my close co-workers while I was on duty. It is a reality, and it is a biohazard.

    Seriously, the only thing worse than Kmart management is the Kmart customers who make the mess in the first place.

  97. failurate says:

    @girly: Generally, the less you are getting paid, the more replaceable you are considered. People with no skill other than their ability to tolerate abuse, are a dime a dozen.

    I have also noticed with a lot of jobs, there is a hazing/weeding out period where you sort of get kicked around quite a bit by the established workers. This is most likely worse for manual/low paid/low skilled workers, but I see it with pretty much every job.
    Trial by fire.

  98. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

    @Corporate-Shill: The average line-level supervisor most likely does not know the age of their employees and will ASSUME the child is 18, thus old enough to operate age restricted equipment. Yes HR knows the age of the child, but HR is prohibited from broadcasting the age of the child. Tough situation.

    Tough? It seems simple enough to me. Even if HR is prohibited from discussing the age of the employee with the manager (and I’m not convinced they are), they have a responsibility to inform the manager of the restrictions on the type of work the kid is allowed to perform. So the blame rests squarely and completely on either the “coach”, if he knew the age, or corporate HR if he didn’t.

    The coach disagreed with the level of severity of the asthma attack. Must not have been very severe.

    The coach is not qualified to make that judgment. For that matter, neither are you.

    A severe asthma attack would have prompted me to call 911 and I assume most other people as well.

    Well, everyone except this manager, who called the victim a liar. Even if the employee is exaggerating the severity, when an employee says to you “I’m having an asthma attack and I’m having trouble breathing,” the appropriate response is “I’ll call 911”.

    Why didn’t the manager call 911? It wasn’t a severe attack.
    how do we know it wasn’t a sever attack? Nobody called 911.

    Not quite what you wrote, but it certainly seems like you’re heading down that path.

  99. CharlieInSeattle says:

    Damn I was hanging sheet rock when I was 14.

  100. veronykah says:

    I worked at Kmart when I was 16 as well. It was a dirty and wretched place to work, the customers were even worse than the store. I don’t think I even bothered to give notice. I have never set foot in a Kmart since the day I quit…its been over 13 years now.
    And as for the Target vs Kmart comparisons…I worked as a night stocker [loved to say that…] at Target and it was inifintely better to work there than Kmart. Just IMHO.

  101. nsv says:

    When I worked at Home Depot they were very proud of the fact that they hired three “people of low IQ” to load cars in the parking lot.

    It wasn’t that HD was being kind. These were the guys who would get sent to do any nasty clean-up. Everyone else would have refused, but these guys were so grateful to have a job (and probably so unaware of the risks,) that they’d clean up hazardous waste with their bare hands.

    I’d stop them if I saw it happening, and more than once I went to management and demanded that they provide PPE for whatever job they were doing, but I know I didn’t see every spill.

  102. hexychick says:

    @muffinpan: A 16 year old with significantly better grammar and sentence structure than you. Clearly he is figuring out where not to work and already has a pretty decent education based on his letter alone. He’s smart enough to file a complaint rather than take it.

  103. NikkiSweet says:

    gee… and I thought I had it bad… I just worked JCPenney’s at 16, where the store manager (balding, mid-40’s, and seriously overweight) liked to play touchy touchy with the jailbait high school employees. We weren’t allowed to come into work in slacks, dress code was skirts only, and we had to wear a minimum of 2″ heels.

    I lasted a grand total of 3 days… it amazed me that there were girls in my high school class that worked there for years.

  104. mavrick67 says:

    “Working with chemicals that could probably sterilize a cat” . . . what chemicals were those? I’ll have to grab some and save the $120 I spent at the Vet next time.

  105. pplude92 says:

    @NikkiSweet: GAH! If any of the coaches did that, I’d vomit!

  106. plasticredtophat says:

    Hmm, I worked at Dunkin’ Donuts, and that sucked. Made me work illegal hours at 15. Then I worked at a church thrift store, I think that was the best job, until my boss sold my sweater on accident. But I could take anything I wanted, so when I became prenant, it was awesome! (you know, besides being a prego teen) Finished highschool, and now my kids bust my ass all day long. But I definatly realize why a good college education is awesome! Now I am on my way to being an RN, so all you can bust my ass, me trying to make you feel better.

  107. plasticredtophat says:

    PREGNANT! damn, I am going to be a nurse who cannot spell!

  108. Superawesomerad says:

    It makes me really sad that people are so amazed at this kid’s writing ability. He’s exactly at the level he should be at 16. Adults have incredibly low expectations for teenagers, I guess.

  109. Kevin Cotter says:

    My mother works in K-Mart food preparation. She has hepatitis from one of those clinics that reused needles in Vegas. DO NOT eat food from Nevada K-Marts

  110. girly says:

    @failurate: It looks to me for low-level workers it’s mostly a way of life rather than a hazing. And while I think any worker should prove themselves a ‘hazing’ or the treatment this person got is simply unprofessional.

  111. BytheSea says:

    I’m not so sure about a baler or a compactor, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the same rules applied.

    Yeah, you have to be 18. I worked at a grocery store in college, the kids couldn’t play on the cardboard baler.

  112. BytheSea says:

    re those super-gross women’s rooms and mysteriously clean men’s rooms: Obviously, it’s done by men who go into the women’s rooms and defile them because some broad got uppity.

  113. trujunglist says:

    Reminds me of a gas station I worked at after I took a temporary break from college. That break didn’t last long.

  114. anaisnun says:

    I started at age 11 (lied about my age) in 1981 picking strawberries every summer, up at 5am. Graduated to peach orchard work at 15 for 2 entire summers, up at 6am.
    My peach boss would cuss me out like a drunken sailor if he was pissed as I was the only other human around. I also worked in an old timey cider house, do not ever drink cider from a farmer! Filter it, I’m tellin’ ya!
    At 16 I started working year round, became hostess and kitchen bitch at a local lodge (I’ll leave out which order)where they held illegal gambling in the basement, the waitress was screwing everyone, I learned to smoke, and got to see my first female impersonator perform. I also drank the leftover champagne because the lodge brothers gave it to me.
    Complain? I’d get canned on the spot, it never occurred to me to do that. I was working for school clothes and kept my eyes on the prize with illegal practices left and right.
    I did get fired from my hostess job after 1.5 yrs because MY MOM complained that she picked me up a little drunk one night, lol.
    Did I mention I went to school the whole time?

    Report your boss for illegal practices?
    Agriculture and kitchens?
    HA ha ha ha ha ha ha!

  115. Gopher bond says:

    @BytheSea: Let’s not exaggerate and say the men’s bathroom were clean, they’re not, they’re dirty and have pee all over the place, vomit occasionally, and sometimes poop splattered all over the toilet seat from someone obviously suffering intestinal disease but the only place I’ve ever seen an entire turd stuck on wall (and not even in the stall, near the sink!) was in the women’s bathroom and I saw it TWICE.

  116. Pro-Pain says:

    When I worked @ K-Mart one of the managers sold drugs right out of the place. Seriously, the whole store was on coke, meth, and heroin. You would find used needles and foilies in every trash can. It was a disaster.

  117. fjordtjie says:

    why is anyone getting pissed off at the kid? really.

    you can all relate to him, and just because he had the balls to leave and you didn’t, doesn’t mean you should jump all over him for it.

    i had the same experience at my first job, but it took 2 years for me to quit. i’m glad he was able to get out when he did.

  118. waffle iron says:

    Regarding the kid using restricted equipment, the policy (at least at Sears post-merger) was that minors had to wear nametags indicating they were underage. In Sears that meant a red strip on the top of the tag (nametags were just size 5 price sign and red was the sale side). This was dropped a year ago at Sears when they changed to using custom styled cardstock for nametags. There might be one for minors but I’ve never seen it.

  119. Gopher bond says:

    @fjordtjie: Fine quit and get another job if you don’t like it. I quit crappy jobs and moved on too but I didn’t whine about it. He’s a 16 year old male who can’t clean-up or collect carts or apparently do anything physical without whining about it. What the hell else is he supposed to do at K-Mart?

  120. lockers says:

    I think the reason to look down on the kid is his obvious lack of work ethic. You know what, they pay you to do work. He was free to leave at any time. Those things he mentioned need to get done, and he was junior staff. It screams self-indulgence and a poor work ethic to think that he was a slave.

    What’s worse is these comments relaying their own childhood boohoos. You people must be a real joy to work with. Zero work ethic and a sense of entitlement is about the worse possible character traits.

  121. Gopher bond says:

    And another thing, why quit? If it was as bad as he says, he could have done the good old American thing and learned how to half-ass everything.

    He could have owned that place, telling all the managers he’s only 16 and can only do certain things and then slack off and play the demo PS3 all day.

    Why quit? It’s much more fun to see how much you can get away with before you get fired. It’s actually quite a lot more than most people’d think.

  122. girly says:

    @testsicles: I don’t know if you actually read the post or not, but according to the young man he was hired for a different job. So it would be kind of fraudish to be given different work.

  123. girly says:

    @lockers: They pay you to do work, but your employers should be professional and obey laws and have professional courtesy. It’s a bare minimum to expect.

  124. girly says:

    The only question here is was he really being barked at or did he ‘feel’ that way perhaps never having had to follow orders before.

    I’d say it does seem he was probably mistreated since they chose to try to turn the asthma episode into soemthing of a ‘gotcha’ against him.

  125. I am a firm believer in the power of shitty high school jobs as motivators. My first job was all about the federal labor law violations. It wasn’t that bad, honestly, except for never being allowed to eat.

    My WORST job was at this awesome toystore where they paid above minimum wage and sold absolutely awesome toys, but the owners’ son had a “thing” for me and pursued me aggressively. He used to pick me up, carry me across the store, and plunk me down in some random aisle. To, um, flirt. His dad was all ADHD and immature, which is great for running a toy store, but used to jump out at us from behind displays and fling things at us (or propel yoyos at our faces) to see how we’d react.

    I was also always stuck in dolls because I was the only girl working. And I had to wrap everything, which was a total mistake because I’m a terrible wrapper. The boys were all much better at it.

  126. lockers says:

    @girly: You see what you did there. Your employer doesn’t owe you anything, including courtesy or respect. He is free to report their OSHA violation. You clearly think you are “special” and “deserve things”. It is a repulsive quality in a person that believe they are to be given thinks without earning them.

  127. girly says:

    @lockers: I don’t think the employer ‘owes’ it, but must companies want to project a professional image, and I believe Sears is one of them.

    I would want respect from my employer as I treat people with respect. Maybe that’s just me.

  128. girly says:

    And by the way I think employers do ‘owe’ it to employees to obey the law, and not just wait to get caught or referred to a government agency.

  129. sventurata says:

    Nice post from a young’un.

    My favourite underage job was making salads for a yuppie family restaurant… rotten produce FTW. To my knowledge, I was the only person bothering to clean the tomato slicer for five months!

  130. My first job was at age 12 deep frying things in the Fry-a-lator for a Mexican restaurant.

    So not safe.

    Got burned frequently with hot oil.

  131. newfenoix says:

    @Corporate-Shill: They may not know the age of their employees BUT they do know if they have any minors working for them. Every scheduling software that I have ever worked with will automatically mark all minors that are working.

  132. newfenoix says:

    @girly: I think some people here feel that all customers are liars and thieves and that employees should be whipped if they get uppity.

  133. newfenoix says:

    I don’t give a damn if you think that employers don’t owe their employees anything, the government feels differently and they REQUIRE by law, that the employer provide a safe, harassment free work environment for their employees. Just how many rules, regulations and laws did K-Mart break here? I quit counting.

  134. girly says:

    @newfenoix: thank you!

  135. aka Bitter says:

    @Mayor McRib: “For you LJS fans just know that they recycle the vat great every night and put it in this machine with some cleaner that spits it right back in.”

    At McDonalds, that’s called filtering. It removes the food particles trapped in the oil so that it lasts longer. Trust me, this is a good thing. A lot of places just leave everything in the vat until it turns black and smokes.

    In case you’re wondering why they don’t use fresh oil every day, 1) it would cost a fortune and 2) oil is best for frying after a day or two of “seasoning”, which allows the oil to penetrate the food and cook it evenly.

  136. Leohat says:

    What’s with this “I suffered so you must too”/Hazing mentality.

    I don’t get it.

  137. Gopher bond says:

    @Leohat: What’s with this I expected an entry level position at K-mart to be the best job in the world mentality?

    Seriously, is this news? “I got a job at K-mart. The people sucked. The organization sucked and the job duties sucked.”

    Really? A crappy entry-level job at K-mart where they made you do shit work? Wow, call Tom Brokaw.

    I’m glad he quit and hopefully he finds a better job, but come on, not news here. It’s called the real world and welcome to it. Best of luck.

  138. forgottenpassword says:


    Yeah, I never understood that. They pay you practically nothing, treat you like shit & then actually expect you to work your ass off? Doesnt make any sense.

    I remember when I first worked for a small independant business…. I was shocked that they paid so decent a wage. Compared to the slave wages recieved at walmart.

    IF you paid your employees a decent wage… you will get a better class of people who’ll actually care about doing a good job.

  139. thelushie says:

    Good God almighty! I feel bad for some of you who had bad jobs. I work for Sears and I LOVE IT! Honestly, it is one of the best retail jobs I have ever had. My team is awesome. We have our problems and there are some less than desirable people but we also have a District Coach who seriously stomps out problems very quickly. I took advantage of his open door policy about an issue I had that I was not comfortable talking to with my coachs. It was dealt with very swiftly. Of course, this was the same DL who walked into that store 5 months ago and “cleaned the place up”. Underaged workers at my store have a strip across their nametags. My job you have to be over 18 years old. Now, some of my customers suck. But we also have coaches and leads who stand up for us. My lead is constantly going to bat for us. And I even make a resasonable salary.

    I’m sorry that some of yyou have not had the greatest retail experience. When I finish my graduate degrees, I hope to be able to change the work environment for the better.

  140. girly says:

    @forgottenpassword: If you agree to a job you should earn your pay. I think there’s loafers and hard workers in all pay ranges.

    Maybe it is true that some workers sift to the bottom for a reason, but I think there’s something to be said for treating people with common decency and compensating them fairly (not lavishly).

    Now it is true that people agree to work for poor pay, but being realistic when some people are essentially economically blackmailed into the work, there will be motivation problems–although really if they want to lift themselves out of it they need to rise above their employer if there truly is no alternative.

    A person that thinks they own you body and soul because you work for them–now that is repulsive. Especially since they inflict their views the most on people who have the least defense against it.

  141. pabster says:

    I can comment on this first-hand. Kmart sucks, big time. The manager at our local store is a nice enough guy, but all the gripes and complaints listed here by former/current Kmart employees and the “10 Confessions…” are spot on. The store here has leaks in the roof (lots of them), the AC often does not work (getting hot here), the store is very dirty all the time … and the workers are lazy as hell. Of course they don’t make much but still. You see merchandise just laying on the floor day after day. Freight never gets put away in timely fashion. Aisles are blocked with freight / carts / displays. The workers at the service desk are clueless, poorly trained.

    My firm belief is that Kmart is on the verge on collapse.

    I do not work directly for Kmart/Sears but have a relationship with a third party who does.

  142. lockdog says:

    Late to the party maybe, but I’m in for crappiest first job. At age 14 I went to work at a summer camp for 8 weeks. Slept through all of black fly and mosquito season in a test with no mesh and lace up sides. Spent my days cleaning outhouses. Not the blue portable guys, but little wood shacks on top of holes in the ground. These were used by several hundred 11-14 year old boys who had never been away from home before, so as you can imagine, we cleaned them with shovels. In addition to cleaning outhouses, I also dug holes for outhouses and “painted” outhouses. I say “painted” because it was some weird mixture of paint, stain, motor oil, tar and diesel fuel the Ranger mixed up.
    Now at any job when a coworker asks me why I work so hard, or how I handle the really bad days I just explain that after this experience, there’s no such thing as a shit job. Oh, my pay for 8 weeks…..$200. And I’m not that old!

  143. GamblesAC2 says:

    @IphtashuFitz: If your talking about how clean freindly’s is you can say that again the one down the street from me is insainly gross!
    @floyderdc: agreed, some people need to shut up, and lose the grandpa complex. telling things like they are doesnt make you a cry baby

  144. Gopher bond says:

    @GamblesAC2: telling things like they are doesnt make you a cry baby

    But what’s the newsworthy point here? That KMAry jobs sucks? Really? This is a blog post, this isn’t noteworthy or useful for consumers. I know KMart sucks and I certainly can tell from the look on their faces that the employees think it sucks too.

  145. wellfleet says:

    I have two college degrees, work retail management, and love the people I meet and the people I work with. I find that often you can create your own positive experience if your place of employment isn’t too hopeless. My first retail job was at HMV, a cd/dvd retailer in Canada, and it was a fantastic experience. I would go back today.
    If the OP felt abused, why did he not quit/report this to OSHA or EPA?

  146. girly says:

    he did quit, and probably should report to OSHA if he hasn’t

  147. pollyannacowgirl says:

    @ Starbutch (and everyone else who wonders why a woman would shit in the middle of a KMart restroom).

    Barbara Ehrenreich writes about her experience working for Wal-Mart in “Nickel and Dimed”. Often, people who work in other low-paying service jobs (and are only able to shop in places like Wal-Mart) will find a sort of satisfaction in having someone ELSE clean up after them. It’s kind of like “Well, I have to wash other people’s laundry at this laundromat all day/mop the McDonald’s floor/etc., now that I’m off duty, someone else can clean up after ME.” It’s a pretty horrible attitude but I can see how someone would get that way.

  148. Crrusherr says:

    you should consider contacting OSHA because those violations are illegal and you may be able to get a settlement or atleast get your managers fired

  149. Meathamper says:

    @muffinpan: Wise words from a douchebag. I wonder if you work in KMart’s propaganda department.

  150. ZeGerman says:

    Who doesn’t have a terrible customer-service job story… On my first day (also at the age of 16) working at Meijer (a massive Midwestern grocer), I was told to collect shopping carts as my first duty of the day. It was sub-freezing outside and a snow-blizzard had come in. My supervisor forgot all about me, and I continued pushing carts through many inches of snow for twice the amount of time the company listed as being acceptable for cart pushing. At first I was sweaty. Then I froze, literally. That was only the beginning.

  151. niccernicus says:

    Yeah, you do. Although, what makes an 18 yr old qualified to run it without training over a 16 yr old? (I worked at Sears on the baler at 18 w/ no training).

    Training aside, the under 18 rule is pussification of our youth.

  152. tunedwn15 says:

    this is all too familiar too me. At the age of 16 i had a job at a Kroger grocery store and was asked to do the same things, including the cleaning of liquid feces in the womens bathroom. This was only a couple years ago. I also was asked to handle alcoholic beverages, which is also illegal. I put in my two weeks notice, and was only scheduled for the first week, then was scheduled off for the second. What a nasty place.