The Cookie Monster Threw Up
Just to be fair, I will tell you right now, this isn't a hub about THE Cookie Monster. It is a hub about the Cookie Monster at my place of work.
I was tempted to keep my place of work a secret. Corporate America tends to get a bit PO'ed when people make fun of them, you know. But then I realized that I had already confessed to working at Wally World in another hub (Finishing My Novel...The Hard Part), and I figured I would save you all the trouble of looking. Besides, this isn't a story about Wal*Mart (so don't even try to make me take this hub down, Wally!). It's a story about the Cookie Monster.
Very recently, I was moved from the cosmetic (make-up) department to the produce department. I had filled in before, so I knew a little about the department. A newly hired associate had also joined the ranks about a week before I transferred. For the sake of anonymity, I will scramble the letters in her name. So I'll call her Mya.
The produce department has its perks. I get paid more by the hour, and there are tons of little things that need doing, such as taking out the trash, recycling the plastic, feeding the pig (more on that one later!), and my most favorite job, crushing the cardboard. I won't lie. The reason why I like all these little tasks is that I get away from the department for a while. It's almost like a little break while still on the clock, because most of the time, I end up standing around waiting for someone to unlock the compactor or waiting for the unloading crew to go on their break so I can walk through the unloading bay to put my plastic in the bin. Or waiting for someone to open the door so I can put a bale outside.
In short, I get to disappear for anywhere between 15 to 30 minutes without anyone getting suspicious.
Back to The Cookie Monster. Wal*Mart has two balers at my store, one on the grocery side and one on the GM side. The cardboard crusher on the grocery side has been named The Cookie Monster. Three days ago, I grabbed the new girl Mya and set off for the Cookie Monster with our mound of cardboard. Mya had never made a bale before, and I was excited to show her. (That would take at least 20 minutes!) I had made plenty of bales with the help of someone who was more experienced, but I'd never made one by myself.
The Cookie Monster was almost full! According to the random Wal*Mart associate who had just finished crushing all his cardboard, The Cookie Monster could take at least two more loads before we had to make a bale. So we force-fed the Monster two more mouthfuls and then started to make a bale. Meanwhile, a few more random associates showed up.
Let me pause to explain something about working at a Super Wally World. There are so many employees at a store my size that nobody really knows anyone from the other side of the store. Since I was from the other side, I didn't recognize any of the people who came by. It might very well have been my fault that The Cookie Monster threw up, but since I don't know anyone else to blame (such as the random associate who suggested the Monster could hold a few more), I was stuck.
This is how it happened. I climbed behind the baler to feed the wires through. (You have to feed wires through these slots in the baler to tie them around the cardboard, so that the bale stays together.) Then my helpers started tying the wires. After the wires were nearly all tied, someone pointed out that something seemed a bit wrong. "Are these the right wires?" someone asked me. "Sure they are," I replied. Mya was watching, I wanted to look like I was training her the right way, after all.
So we continued on as if nothing was wrong. Someone brought a pallet over, and that's when we noticed that the Cookie Monster had eaten too much cardboard. The Cookie Monster was gorged. Some of the wires were barely even long enough to tie. But once you start making a bale, you can't go back a step. We had to finish the darn thing. My helper turned the knob to 'Manual Up' and started to open the Cookie Monster's mouth.
Needless to say, we all ducked for cover.
The wires came untied and the Cookie Monster threw up all over the floor.
I have to hand it to the random Wally World associates. When they saw the tower of cardboard fall to the floor, they could have turned and ran and I wouldn't have been able to track them down. But instead, they all stayed and helped me move all the cardboard away from the Cookie Monster so we could shut the door, load all the cardboard back into the Monster's mouth, and go for round two. Some of them didn't even complain about how long it took (by now I had been away from the Produce department for nearly an hour, and Mya had already left to clock out). I was actually beginning to think the situation was funny.
Then my department manager came by to see what was taking so long (or maybe he heard what had happened). I stood by candidly while my DM studied the top of the cardboard mess and deduced that the last person to put cardboard in the Cookie Monster was from the meat department. Phew, I thought. I was saved.
We began to pick up the cardboard and move it into three piles on the floor. Meanwhile, other people came by to dispose of their cardboard, saw the mess and actually helped us pick it up. I was so proud of my fellow associates, I started to laugh. The situation was completely ridiculous, but most of us were having fun throwing cardboard around and avoiding our departments.
Then my assistant manager came by. Maybe he knew the truth, or maybe he was trying to join in the fun, but he singled me out. "Hey, Amanda, did you make this mess?" he asked.
"Maybe," I said, completely joking. By now it had been over an hour since I left my department to get rid of our cardboard, something which should have only taken twenty minutes at the most. And we still needed to make a bale before I could get the rest of my cardboard taken care of and get back to work. And on top of all that, by the time I got back to my department with our empty cardboard container, there was so much cardboard all over the floor in the back room, that it was time to get rid of the cardboard again.
I started to pile the cardboard into our trusty watermelon container so I could take it down to the Cookie Monster, but three different produce associates told me to go on my break instead. By the time my fifteen minutes were up, everyone in the department had heard that the Cookie Monster tossed his cookies on my watch.
In the days that followed, my baler fiasco became a running joke. I was asked if I had to make a bale every single time I disappeared with the cardboard, even if I was only gone for ten minutes. My favorite co-worker even asked me if I was having nightmares about the Cookie Monster. I put on a happy face and made fun of myself along with them, but last night it really started to bug me. I had brought back a load of cardboard that filled the Monster. I was supposed to make a bale, but I left to get another load (we had TWO water mellon tubs full of cardboard!). By the time I returned to the Cookie Monster with the second one, a couple other associates had already made the bale. A support manager (who used to work as a sales floor associate in the Wal*Mart I worked at while going to school) noticed that I had left the bale for someone else to make. "Oh, now you just let other people make your bales for you?" he asked in a joking tone. He might have been kidding, but the words got me thinking. And I realized.
I was afraid to make a bale.
So late last night, after most people were gone, I brought a huge load of cardboard back to the Monster. That same support manager was there, but he was busy loading a truck up with empty pallets. I began stuffing cardboard down the Cookie Monster's throat and making him bite down. He was almost full. I began to panic. What if I had to make a bale?
But I managed to fit all my cardboard in before the Monster got too full. I considered leaving, but then I realized that this was as good a time as any to jump back on the horse, so to speak. So I set the Monster to 'Manual Down' and began the process all by myself. I even told the support manager I had it covered, so he could go on his lunch break.
A few people came by, but surprisingly, they knew less about making a bale than I did, which is saying something. Still, I kept going. I pulled out ten wires and started putting them through the slots. I tied each one, relieved to see that they didn't seem too short this time. And I even learned that you have to pull out the big red button when you want the Cookie Monster to open his mouth and spit out the bale. And it came out, in a nice wrapped cube, right onto the pallet like it's supposed to. Take that, Cookie Monster! Revenge tastes like sweet cookies!
Someone offered to take the bale out back for me, but I wanted to finish what I started. So I taped the bale label on it, jacked up the pallet jack and rolled the bale outside. The street behind Wally World is on a slight downward hill, and I guess I must have been a little excited. I took off rather fast, and then the bale picked up speed down the hill. I took giant steps and fought to stay in front of it. It was heavy and moving fast. I tried, but I couldn't slow it down. The bale got away from me! It chased me all the way down the tiny hill. Runaway cardboard! I screamed, turned the handle, and jumped out of the way.
The bale skid all the way down the hill.
The Cookie Monster doesn't scare me anymore. Now I'm afraid of the cardboard.