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Karla Kisor’s work shift officially ran from eight-thirty until five o’clock, but she had an understanding with her store manager.

Dan McMillon -the New Port Richey, Florida Walmart Super Center’s general manager- had introduced himself to Karla the day she first showed up to work, extending his hand and announcing, “Dan McMillon, no relation. Glad to have you on board, Karla. Be sure to let me know what I can do to make your time at Walmart better.”

Karla hadn’t understood what Dan’s, “No relation,” declaration had meant until orientation when she’d learned that Walmart’s CEO was named Doug McMillon. Dan had been telling her that he was no kin of the big boss, a thought she was quite certain would never have entered her head.

Dan’s use of the term, “your time at Walmart,” had sent chills down her spine as the words somehow elicited thoughts of a prison sentence and prison was certainly something she hoped would never again be a part of her life. In any case, Dan had proved to be a most hospitable GM, and, true to his word, had stretched the rules a bit and allowed her a bit of leeway in her schedule accommodations.

Because of Skylar, Karla had to work hours that centered around her daughter’s school schedule, and that meant her regular work hours were Mondays to Fridays from 8:30 a.m. till five o’clock p.m. Skylar’s job was to catch the Interlachen bus at nine o’clock, which meant she had to leave the house absolutely no later than 8:45. Her landlord, Mrs. McNutt, would come knock on their door round 8:30 to make sure Skylar was fixing to git and her baby hadn’t missed the bus for near six months. Come afternoons, Skylar’d be home round 4:15, which meant she was unsupervised for another hour at the end of the day. It wasn’t an ideal situation, but with Dan’s accommodations at work and a little help from Mrs. McNutt at home, it worked.

Karla would have loved to leave later in the morning and get home earlier but that just wasn’t in the cards. Even though she owned a car it was an unreliable old heap and too dang expensive to run. Karla was beholding to Pasco County bus route Fifty-four for getting her to and from work every day. Come mornings, the west bound bus would pick her up at Gunn Highway right about 7:30 and drop her off smack in front of the Little Road Walmart come 8:10.

Because of the bus schedule Dan allowed her to clock in at 8:15 and clock out at 4:45. That meant that she could catch the east bound at five o’clock and be back to Gunn Highway twenty minutes later. From State Road Fifty-four and Gunn Highway she only had to walk half a mile to their little place on Black Lake road, and that meant that come 5:30 she arrived like a ladybug flying home.

Most days she skedaddled from her tiny room off the main house on Black Lake road come 7:15 and arrived home ten plus hours later, but today, what with her baby spending the night at the Kohnen’s, she could relax a bit and shop for Skylar’s birthday present.

Clocked out and with her Walmart smock removed and stowed in her work locker, Karla was ready to cruise the Walmart aisles for a befitting, although inexpensive, gift for her baby’s ninth when she flipped her phone to check for missed calls. Sure enough, her voicemail light was blinking. “Huh,” she said to herself, “who’d be calling me during the middle of a work shift?”