Friday, January 16, 2009

The Walmart Engineer

I was checking out at Walmart the other day, when the cashier, an attractive African-American man about my age, hit on me. I'm not usually good at picking up on these things, but I know he was hitting on me because he specifically asked me if I was buying the gift card I handed to him for my boyfriend. When I told him no, he asked, "Do you have a boyfriend?" To which I obviously answered, "Yes."

He was very charming and made me laugh with his insistance that he would make a much better boyfriend than the one I already had. He asked me what I did for a living, and I told him I work as a technical writer. And that's where this interaction took a surprising turn. He wondered where I worked and if they were looking for engineers.

"Why?" I asked, smiling and half-joking. "Are you an engineer?" He glanced around quickly, smiled back and said, "Shhhh..."

"Well, we're not hiring right now," I told him when I realized that he was serious. "But I'll let you know if I hear of anything."

As I walked out of the store with my bags in hand, the weight of that conversation struck me. My Walmart purchases had just been rung-up and bagged by a man with an engineering degree. Now mind you, I have no idea why or how Mr. Engineer ended up behind that cash register, but I do know that he didn't belong there. And not only did he not belong there, but it's likely that if the people who hired him had known he was an engineer, they never would have hired him in the first place. Talk about being overqualified.

I still see Mr. Engineer occassionally when I stop in to pick up a few things on my way home. I find myself using his presense as a guage of the economy. When Mr. Engineer is gone, I can assume that he has found himself a wonderful engineering position and that our economy is once more on the mend. It's probably not fair to lay my hopes for new jobs and economic recovery on the shoulders of a Walmart cashier. But he is an engineer, after all.


Angie Ledbetter said...

Cool barometer you have there. :)

Kathryn Magendie said...

This made me smile, despite now hoping Walmart Man gets the job of his dreams!

patresa hartman said...

i like that the engineer was not too proud to get a job at walmart. :)

Ami said...

Angie - It is interesting to say the least.

Kathryn - Me, too!

Patresa - I agree. That's part of why I was so struck by him. He does his job at Walmart as if it IS an engineering job. It seems he's just happy to be working in the meantime.

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