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I just had a really bizarre experience that might give some insight into American big box consumer life. I went to get a pick-me-up at Starbucks a few minutes ago and ended up waiting about 20 minutes for a simple coffee. The place was PACKED, standing room only, but there were just 3 employees, one of which was mostly in the back room (I assume this was the manager?). The person running the register was slammed, so there was only one person making all of the drinks. She was a young latina woman (a girl really) and she was moving a million miles an hour. As I was waiting I even mentioned to her as she whizzed by that it looked like she needed some help and that given unemployment levels it sounds like Starbucks should do some hiring. She sighed and gave me a knowing glance. I quickly realized that she probably wasn't able to say such things to management, as it would imply she's not capable of handling her ridiculous workload. This place was insane busy - chaching went the cash machine, chaching, chaching, chaching. I repeated my comment to the employee I believed was the manager a few minutes later and she didn't even respond. Kind of rude, but whatever, she was busy doing something too. Anyway, I finally got my coffee and went on my way, and here's where things got crazy.

I walked out the doors on my way back to the car and heard the "whoop" of an ambulance pulling up. Then I noticed the crowd. Next to the Starbucks is a Blockbuster. I don't know why I stopped, maybe it was because I mentioned the labor issue at Starbucks so I was in the mood to poke my nose in other people's business. Out of character for me, but oh well. So I asked this person in the crowd what happened and they told me the young woman working at the Blockbuster had passed out cold. As they wheeled her out on a stretcher she didn't look good - pale, disoriented. Who knows what was wrong - someone mentioned dehydration but they didn't know either. And then slowly I started to realize that there weren't any other blue shirted Blockbuster employees anywhere, not in the crowd, not visible through the windows inside. The person next to me told me that the woman (again, a very young woman, almost a girl) was the only employee there and that now the customers were watching the store and trying to contact management to get the next worker in before their scheduled time. WTF? One worker at a very busy Blockbuster during rush hour? No wonder she collapsed. I'm sure there was some sort of scheduling conflict as I think normally those stores are supposed to have more than one person working (aren't they?). But there they were, all these customers just standing around. One was on the phone behind the counter talking to somebody. The medics were already gone at that point, on their way to the hospital. Nobody of any official capacity was there. And this is a major urban area in one of the largest cities in the country. Anybody could have walked in and stolen as many movies as they wanted I guess. Thankfully, it seems that the customers there were a responsible bunch. As I was about to leave the crowd outside the store and get back to my car, one of the people who had just walked out said that the remaining customers inside were organizing to all leave and shut the doors and see if they could somehow be locked. Someone was evidently going to come in early but the customers were tired of waiting around.

Hey, big box stores.  You're making ridiculous profits. HIRE SOME AMERICANS! We know you want the unemployment numbers to suck so you can get your rich boy tax breaks from Romney, but come on, this is getting ridiculous.

Your service sucks, your security is a joke, and your employees are dropping like flies.

Enough is enough.

Quit with the jobs boycott and use your profits to hire the Americans your businesses so obviously require.

Originally posted to addikell on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 06:35 PM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Personal Storytellers.

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