The True Story Behind That Viral Post About Working At Target

Photo: Courtesy of Tom Grennell
Tom Grennell is just a regular guy, working as a cashier at Target. Like a lot of 20-year-olds, outside of work, Grennell routinely posts funny videos to his YouTube channel, and he writes about his life and shares photos on Tumblr. So it wasn't out of the ordinary when, last week, Grennell posted a diary of sorts, which documented little events that occurred over the course of his first week of work at Target. What was out of the ordinary, though, was the reaction he got. Grennell's post first went viral on Imgur, and now, people all over the internet are sharing and clicking and commenting. Something about his witty observations of the people and situations he encountered at his seemingly dull day job resonated with people. We talked to the Target guy himself to find out how much of it was real, how people are reacting, and what it feels like to have the internet completely losing it over this thing he wrote. What compelled you to write this post in the first place?
"I like to share funny things with my followers on Tumblr, so I decided to just share one day's events there. I thought I'd had a pretty funny day and wanted to make other people smile from it." How much of your Target diary is real? Did you really document the events each day after they happened, or is it based on a past retail job you worked?
"It's actually 100% real! All of these events happened exactly as they did on the day they were posted. I had a lot of ideas for funny bits to add on, but I decided I wanted to keep it entirely genuine and tell nothing but the truth. I think my perspective definitely made the more mundane ones seem more interesting than they normally would have been, but everything happened exactly as written." How did you find out your post had gone viral and was being picked up by news outlets?
"It was all through my followers actually; I would have been entirely oblivious without them. First, someone told me that it had gotten big on Imgur, so I took a look at that and was shocked by the numbers, and the comments were all so positive. Then the next day, I got a link to your article. It absolutely blew my mind, and I'm still having trouble processing everything that's happening. All I wanted was a part-time job, and now I got all this." Were you literally at Target working today? What is it like returning to work after this whole thing has blown up?
"I was at Target today! It was honestly more stressful and surreal than anything. I got a tweet last night from someone saying they enjoyed it and shared the article with some people from corporate on that was terrifying. I was convinced every time one of the leaders looked my way that they would come over and tell me I was fired for going viral. But that's also just my anxiety talking." Have your coworkers, bosses, or customers seen the post? If so, what were their reactions?
"As far as I'm aware, none of them have." What is it like to be "internet famous"? Are people treating you differently? Has anyone asked for your autograph?
"I don't know if I'd go so far as 'famous,' but I'm not really having any experiences like that. I'm getting lots of messages from some really nice people saying I'm funny, asking for more updates, or telling me to write a book or something, but aside from that, the majority of my experience with this has been me and my friends questioning how it ever came to this." Why do you think people are responding so favorably to your post? What about it do you think resonates so much with people?
"If I had to guess, I think it's how I described these events. I think that people are liking that I'm keeping a very positive outlook in what a lot of people would consider a lackluster job field, and I'm taking even the most mundane details and turning them into something exciting and interesting. If I had to label it, I'd say, maybe, 'comedic realism'? I don't really know how to describe it, but there seems to be a quality to the stories that a lot of people enjoy." Is there anything else you'd like our readers to know about this experience or your experience working at Target?
"I think the one thing that this entire experience has taught me that I would like others to take away is that even the most seemingly boring and monotonous of things can be made exciting and cheerful if you just look for the positive sides. Perspective is key in everything!" If you haven't yet seen Grennell's account of his first week at Target, take a look below. It's a pretty great way to start the week.

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