26 May 2014

My 24 hours at Meijer!

For those of you who may not know, I am a part of my high school's student newspaper, The Echo. Seeing as it's my senior year, I wanted to end my column-writing with a bang. Originally, I wanted to do some type of social experiment on people. After days of brainstorming and several conversations with my fellow staff members and adviser, we ultimately decided upon spending 24 hours at a 24-hour store. I know of one guy who has done this in the past, Skyler Bartels. Actually, he managed to stay a whopping 41 hours at Walmart. After reading more about his adventure, I became so intrigued and excited to try this out for myself. To give it a little bit more of a purpose, I was going to see if anyone noticed me or if anyone said anything, as well as what things I might notice about customers or employees.

I also vlogged (video blogged, for you less-modern folks) my time there. Click here for that more personal look at what I experienced on this adventure.

Before I let you read what happened, I would like to add a small disclaimer: I do not encourage anyone to do this, for I'm sure corporations do not encourage such behavior. During my visit, I did not do anything that would cause a nuisance to others, nor did I cause any disruption to the store itself. The intent of this adventure was for journalistic purposes. 

On Saturday, May 10, 2014, I started my 24-hour stay at Meijer at 3:04 pm. I went in with nothing but the basics: phone, charger, and wallet. I would buy food, a toothbrush, and toothpaste as needed. I didn't tell any of the Meijer employees what I was going to be doing in order to get an accurate test of if anyone would notice or say anything. I did have some of my friends come visit me, but I staggered all visits to be at least an hour apart, and I didn't allow any visitor to stay longer than 2 hours (I don't think anyone did stay their full 2 hours) in order to ensure that I was alone for the majority of my time there. While I was there, I kept a logue on my phone of times and activities. The following is that logue, along with further explanations at the end:

Start: 3:04 pm on Saturday, May 10th 2014

First thing: read greeting cards 
4:01 pm: sitting on a bench in the book aisle, about to start reading a biography on the maker of Meijer 
5:05 pm: grabbed a basket and started picking up items that were out of place. Now to find their rightful spot on the shelves...
5:16 pm: about the third or fourth time I've heard an announcement for all utility workers to the east door. What's wrong with the east door? Where are all the utility workers?
5:36 pm: I've got competition. Just passed an employee doing the same thing I am (putting misplaced items back). Game on.
5:40 pm: stumbled upon the juniors clothing section while on my hunt...they actually have some pretty cute clothes!
5:42 pm: just heard a kid tell his mom, "We've been here all day." She replied, "Tough. I told you we were going to be here all day!" Oh, the irony...
5:53 pm: just discovered the cafe! Oh, glorious day! Only took me three hours...
First purchase at about 6:50 pm: water and an ice cream cone
7:34 pm: first visitor just left. Chilling in the outdoor seating display, contemplating what to do next. Thoughts: maybe I'll apply for a job at the new Meijer in Plainfield this summer 
8:04 pm: doesn't feel that late. I'm sitting in a chair on display in the outdoor seating department. I have my water and a book from the book department. Employee just walked by to put something away and didn't say anything to me...success. If anyone asks, I'll probably say my mom is grocery shopping and I prefer these seats over the benches 
8:31 pm: went to the cafe to get chicken. Realized they closed at 8 and not 9. Now I'm on the hunt for dinner...
8:33 pm: decided to get some turkey and some egg salad. There's a line of 5 men at the deli
8:53 pm: buying my dinner. I've got a pretty good little meal! I decided on a macaroni salad over egg. Tips: if you buy a side dish like macaroni salad, ask for a sample first and save the spoon they give you. 
9:30ish: went to use the restroom...there was poop smeared on the toilet and on the floor
11:07 pm: just finished riding the pony ride they have for just 1 penny. Best penny I've ever spent.
11:50 pm: man is blaring music from a speaker and shouting for his friends. Music is fun. I think he's drunk? I think he tried to talk to me too. 
12:02 am: very few customers, quiet. Tons of employees out stocking shelves. I'm starting to get worried about getting noticed now. It's going to be tough staying hidden
12:12 am: saw first customer in pajamas 
12:15 am: just doing some casual clothes shopping at midnight...
12:33 am: guess I'm not the only night owl shopper...someone just tried to come into my dressing room 
1:58 am: getting tired now...pulling an all-nighter would be rough. Might sleep for about an hour 
2:25 am: haven't slept yet. Just left dressing room because I heard a trash guy nearby. Hopefully he'll clean the room so I can go back in there without worries of getting interrupted 
3:01 am: almost half way! Dressing rooms never got cleaned (from the looks of it, they never do), so I'm back in there. I'll chill here until someone knocks I think. I have marks on my feet from my flip flops. Did not anticipate this much pain. There's been a surprising amount of people here shopping for clothes and random things. Did not expect that.
3:49 am: I've started doing small workouts in my little dressing room
4:02 am: changing my hair style so people will have to think twice on whether they recognize me from the past 12+ hours 
4:25 am: 3% battery and the portable charger is dead. Started to make up a parody to "Let it Go" about my time in this dressing room (aka "fitting room of isolation"). Also eyebrow dancing to the music. This is my life right now. What did people ever do without cellphones?
4:39 am: about 20 more minutes and I'll come out of this dressing room. First thing I'll do: put the decoy clothes back. And then: pee. And then brush my teeth if there isn't really anyone around. Then find breakfast! I hope the bakery is open. You know what, I'll just head out now I think...
5:02 am: found an outlet to charge my phone back in electronics. Currently sitting on the lower shelf under the TVs as it charges 
5:06 am: just realized the cafe probably has outlets somewhere over there. I shall go check. I'd look more normal sitting at a table
5:11 am: made it all the way down here to discover this outlet doesn't even work
5:14 am: found an outlet by Sandy the pony. Just chillin' here charging my phone now 
5:24 am: the store seems less busy now than it did between 2 and 3 am. How odd. Could be all the employees that went home, though.
5:29 am: for the first time this adventure, I'm pretty bored. No one to really watch, no one is on social media this early in the morning, I'm stuck in one place as I charge my phone. 
5:36 am: just started pouring outside. So loud on the roof!
6:02 am: was looking at a wallet when a guy nearby was all, "Excuse me! Excuse me!" I turned around and he was like, "Oh, you don't work here." Nope. Might as well though! 
6:21 am: enjoying my donuts. Lady at the register was extremely friendly, made my day. 
6:39 am: seems like the calm before the storm. Kind of cool to see all the employees getting everything ready just for it to be totally destroyed again. Flowers were restocked, jewelry glass is getting cleaned, cafe and bakery people are setting up. Like a miniature town, the store's preparation is clockwork. The dozens of boxes that were out overnight have disappeared, and the bananas reappeared (they all disappeared randomly last night). I'm pretty sure the only customers so far are last-minute Mother's Day shoppers. Lots of men rushing to the gift cards and flowers and greeting cards 
6:43 am: I should've slept while I had the chance. I don't know if I'll make it to three!
7:08 am: just took a quick power nap. Not enough!
7:12 am: going to try to catch some sleep in the bathroom stall...
7:52 am: looking at DVDs and video games in the electronics department. Not as tired but still a little tired 
10:57 am: charging my phone at the front. Didn't even realize when the big rush of people arrived, I think around 8 or 9. Maybe even 10. Only about 4 more hours left!!
11:07 am: charging my phone next to Sandy the horse. Little girl rode it. Mom/grandma left pennies "for the next little boy or girl who wants to ride"
11:30 am: enjoying a nice lunch from the cafe! Popcorn chicken, Hawaiian roll, mac and cheese, and a 32 oz soft drink for 5 bucks
11:49 am: just saw an employee rolling out a free sample cart. Woo!
12:04 pm: three hours. Just three. Also, there are much cuter boys working this shift compared to yesterday!
12:08 pm: there are TWO free sample carts!
12:17 pm: literally have a stack of 5 Dr. Seuss books I'm going to read. Don't judge. 
3:11 pm: I DID IT! IM FREE! Laney and Molly came to visit me and Molly took my picture as I walked out. So surreal.

 To recap, I never really slept. I managed to fit in a 15-minute "nap" (it wasn't even deep enough of a sleep to be a nap, I don't think), but that was it. Between the hours of 2-5 am, I was mostly just in a dressing room. It was a very good hiding spot, but I didn't want to sleep there for fear of an employee banging on the door a few hours later. That would be awkward.

No employees ever said anything to me about being there for a long period of time. Did they notice me? It's hard to say. I'm sure some must have, because I saw a lot of the same people multiple times, but no one directly questioned me.

I also vlogged (video blogged, for you less-modern folks) my time there. Click here for that more personal look at what I experienced on this adventure.

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