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Trial by Fire
#1
Hello,

I work at Wal-Mart. I recently changed my position from cashier to assembler. According to the assembler's job description, he assembles bicycles (among other things) according to a supplied instruction manual for each item to be assembled. I thought as a cashier that job description sounded straightforward and represented an interesting change of pace.

I got a significantly greater change of pace than the job description suggested. The true nature of a Wal-Mart assembler is to act as an apprentice bicycle mechanic, but there's no one to teach me at my store. I therefore have no choice but to learn my job largely on my own time and money. I started this position at zero bicycle knowledge about a month ago. I can now assemble most children's bikes and single-speed cruisers without a hitch but brakes, chains and especially derailleurs are still problems for me.

My first step was to buy a book called The Bicycling Guide to Complete Bicycle Maintenance & Repair for Road & Mountain Bikes. I found it generally informative about bicycles but alarmingly inscrutable when I tried to learn how to actually perform a basic task, such as make both brake pads move instead of just one.

My second step was to join this site and subscribe to its video collection. I'd like to post questions here a few times a week as they occur to me in the course of my work. If this site gives me the knowledge and skill I need to survive in my position I intend to post in this forum for as long as I work as an assembler.
  Reply
#2
Welcome to the site and forums. I could not help but to noticed your name, "heating ventilation and air conditioning"? You are by all means on the right step to DIY bicycle mechanics. Starting with the single speeds and getting the theory down for those has put you in the right direction.
There are many people here who can help out on any question you may have, always remember not to get irritated if it is not answered right away. Wink . The wealth of knowledge contained within Alex's videos and this forum is a vast and invaluable asset to the beginner mechanic.
Again welcome to BT and enjoy the site.

Bill
Good maintenance to your Bike, can make it like the wheels are, true and smooth!
  Reply
#3
Quote:Originally posted by Bill
I could not help but to noticed your name, "heating ventilation and air conditioning"?
Yes. I took an air conditioning course in 2007 and finished it with a 4.0 grade average. Despite this, the economy soured the following year and I couldn't remain in the trade; they now only employ technicians with 2-5 years of experience. So the only thing my "high honors" diploma is good for now is to prove that I'm trainable.

Quote:Originally posted by Bill
There are many people here who can help out on any question you may have, always remember not to get irritated if it is not answered right away.
I'm not the kind of person to get irritated that easily, but my questions are time-sensitive nonetheless.

Quote:Originally posted by Bill
Welcome to the site and forums.
Thank you.
  Reply
#4
I think it's fantastic that you are conscientious enough to find out on your own time how to do your job properly. However, I think it's incredible that Wal-Mart have untrained people assembling things.

Poorly assembled bicycles, furniture etc. could, potentially, be lethal. In a letigious country like the U.S. I'm surprised this goes on. :-0
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#5
Quote:Originally posted by xerxes
...I think it's incredible that Wal-Mart have untrained people assembling things.
I was trained to meet the official job description rather than the real one. That is, there is an initialed and dated line in my personnel file verifying that I read a document titled "Bicycle Assembly." Unfortunately it goes something like this:

1. Remove bicycle from box
2. Assemble bicycle according to manufacturer's instructions
3. Place bicycle on sales floor

And with that, I can be said to have read Wal-Mart's instructions on bicycle assembly. They also gave me one day to work alongside an experienced assembler at another store. That was certainly informative but insufficient. For one thing, not every bicycle I deal with has a manual; for example, some of them are returns with damage.

The document on repair is very similar to the one on assembly:

1. Check all components
2. Repair bicycle if possible
3. Return bicycle to sales floor or customer service as applicable

You can understand my desire to learn more.
  Reply
#6
Wow! You are way underemployed at Wal Mart. I can tell that by your motivation, initiative and the quality of your writing.

A niece of mine, an attorney, rose to assistant store manager at Wal Mart between college and law school and thinks that at the least you shouldn't tell Wal Mart that you are training yourself on your own time (even though having to do that is deplorable) because working off the clock is a generic no-no there that can be thrown in your face no other reason than a manager's mood or whim.
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#7
Well for sake of argument just say that it's a hobby on your off time not intended to be considered off the clock work! If they still whine about it advise them that you also buy aka supply your hobby and sustainability with walmart products!!! Last I checked biking is considered an acceptable exercise. Just saying Wink.
Good maintenance to your Bike, can make it like the wheels are, true and smooth!
  Reply
#8
Quote:Originally posted by Tim M
Wow! You are way underemployed at Wal Mart. I can tell that by your motivation, initiative and the quality of your writing.
Thank you for the compliment.

Quote:Originally posted by Tim M
A niece of mine, an attorney, rose to assistant store manager at Wal Mart between college and law school and thinks that at the least you shouldn't tell Wal Mart that you are training yourself on your own time (even though having to do that is deplorable) because working off the clock is a generic no-no there that can be thrown in your face no other reason than a manager's mood or whim.
I can see how a member of management may think that. (Or even want to think that, as you suggest.) I don't think educating myself on my own time qualifies as working off-the-clock any more than joining a gym. It'll improve my work performance, but studying in and of itself doesn't assemble, move or sell any Wal-Mart bicycles.

Nevertheless, I agree with your niece. It's not worth risking a misunderstanding; I'll keep the extent of my extracurricular activities a secret from management.

Quote:Originally posted by Bill
Well for sake of argument just say that it's a hobby on your off time not intended to be considered off the clock work! If they still whine about it advise them that you also buy aka supply your hobby and sustainability with walmart products!!! Last I checked biking is considered an acceptable exercise. Just saying. Wink
It wouldn't matter if my participation here saves the store thousands of dollars on an outside contractor who builds bicycles. If they conclude (however wrongly) that I'm working off-the-clock, I'm toast.
  Reply
#9
Yeah good point best policy is to probably keep it hush hush. Whatever you need to know as I stated people are here to help. Smile
Good maintenance to your Bike, can make it like the wheels are, true and smooth!
  Reply


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