Dear Office Depot

Dear Office Depot,

I worked at store #2719, Spokane, Washington, from May to August, during the summer of  2009.

Also hired in a May was a man by the name of Willie Bainbridge. I didn't want to say anything at the time, but now that he's gone, I'm finally going to share my frustrations with corporate.

Willie started a week after I did. The first thing we noticed about Willie, is that he was obviously a meth addict. If his yellow, sunken face with the missing front teeth and pale, emaciated body didn't give it away, his confused ramblings, clenched jaw, and inability to blink or stand still without pacing should have. I mean... it was pretty obvious.

I'm not sure how he managed to put down the pipe for the 3-5 days necessary to pass a piss test, but he made up for it after Office Depot hired him. He didn't just come to work cracked out of his mind, he snuck out to the car during his shift. People, including myself, actually saw him out there, hitting on a glass piece. Oh sure, maybe it was just a "fancy tobacco pipe" like Willie claimed it was, and maybe he really did have diabetes and needed to go out to the car five times a day to "administer insulin" ...or maybe he was a crackhead.

I think what really bothered people is that we all knew Willie was getting paid just as much as we were to be there. While my co-workers and I faced shelves, counted stock, helped customers and sold office supplies, Willie touched things, walked around excitedly and stressed everyone out. It wasn't just that despite his frantic energy, he did little to no work; Willie actually did negative work. Now granted, the man could front-face merchandise. In fact, lining things up with the shelves was Willie's obsessive/compulsive specialty, and one of the few things he really excelled at. But he would walk up to employees and customers alike and begin telling incoherent stories about his ex-girlfriend and three-year-old daughter. I could write a book about Willie's home life from the information he forced on me against my will. He wore flip-flops to work. I looked over one of the cycle counts he had submitted and under "total" he had scrawled, "Not sure."

What bothered me most about Willie, and I think some of my co-workers felt this way as well, is what it said about the rest of us as Office Depot employees. Typically, when you nail down a job there's a certain sense of accomplishment. I did what 5% - 10% of the people in this country weren't able to accomplish- I passed the screening process, I separated myself from the riff-raff and won gainful employment. Being offered a job says something about you as a person. It's validation.

When our store manager introduced us to Willie Bainbridge, what he was actually saying was, "I sat down with Willie, just like I sat down with each and every one of you, looked him in the eyes, (those glazed-over, cracked-out eyes) and offered him membership in the same club that you're in." It devalues the whole idea of getting a job.

Some people complain that they're "just another number" to the company they work for. I wish I had been just another number. Another number would have been fine. You're joke-job employer number 17 as far as I'm concerned. But was I really just another Willie Bainbridge to you? Now that stings.

Sebastian Braff,
Employee #173475


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