My younger brother, having had the audacity to land a job in his field, a two bedroom apartment in Bucks County and a flat screen TV, puts me to shame. To recap, I have a job that is very much not in my field, which I expend a great deal of energy hating on a daily basis. Also, I live with my parents, and although they have a flat screen TV, it’s not mine.
But when my brother had to leave the family home on Hooper’s Island, mid-barbeque, to brave the Memorial Day traffic comprised of those who have to be “home in time for work on Tuesday morning,” I couldn’t help but feel a little better about my life. Being underemployed does have its advantages, as does having a slew of co-workers who are desperate for extra hours. I arranged for a fellow Front End Supervisor to cover my shift, and, slapping on another layer of sunscreen, waved goodbye to my little brother.
This means I am free until Thursday morning. On Thursday, I will have to return to Philadelphia. I will have to resume my duties as Cash Office Nazi (as none of the other Front End Specialists have been entrusted with The Knowledge of Drawer Reconciliation and All Things Paperwork) but by then I will have a partially-edited manuscript and a great tan, so I’ll manage.
In the meantime, I have a confession to make. Two actually. The first is that on Saturday, I finished the cash office (and yes, “the cash office” is a verb in this context) in one hour and forty five minutes. When I started training in April, it took me nearly four hours to run all of the reports, count the drawers, prepare the deposits, etc. And God forbid some hapless customer had the nerve to pay with a check. Checks were—and continue to be—the bane of my existence. The encoding machine dates from approximately 2000 B.C.E. Furthermore, the entire process of encoding checks offers more opportunities to screw up than does the raising of a child.
But on Saturday, there were no checks. Furthermore, there were no missing receipts or price overrides because a certain Front End Specialist (yours truly) had organized all of the paperwork during the closing shift the night before.
The Queen of the Cash Office can “do the cash office” in less than two hours, and this is benchmark against which the rest of us are measured. The last Sales Associate allowed into the inner sanctum never managed less than two and a half hours (and she has since gone off to be a full time mom, so there is no chance of her breaking the record now). Until Saturday, the closest I had ever gotten was two hours and forty five minutes (I would have managed two and a half, but it had been a Day of Multiple Checks). But on Saturday, the unthinkable happened.
I broke the record. I had counted, reconciled, prepared and stapled all of the necessary documents by 8:45, fifteen minutes before the shop was scheduled to open (the stapling, by the way, is very complicated— it is an art in and of itself— and no, I am not exaggerating; the Queen of the Cash Office has given me numerous lectures on how I might improve my technique). This meant that from 9:00 to 3:00, I had to ring. And there is nothing worse than having to ring for six hours on the Saturday before Memorial Day.
In the past, my inefficiency in the cash office meant that I could avoid customers until at least 10:00 or even 11:00 o’clock. But not any more. The perfectionist in me wants to be good at my job, even though I hate it, and so with all the dedication of an aspiring Olympian, I’ve been shaving fifteen minutes off of my time week by painful week.
Fortunately, Head Boss wasn’t there on Saturday. Nor was the Queen of the Cash Office, and tempted as I was to gloat about my record-setting time, I thought better of it. No one knows, except the Manager on Duty, and I don’t think she was paying attention to my race against the clock. This means that if I play my cards right on Thursday—and if The Shop takes in a lot of checks—I might be able to stretch my time in the cash office to the usual three or four hours, thereby avoiding customers as long as humanly possible.
My second confession is a bit juicier. There is a new boy at The Shop. He is tall and wears cool glasses, plus he seems capable of formulating a complete sentence so naturally, I am intrigued. Unfortunately, we (and by we, I mean myself) were at a loss to guess his age. Fortunately, his employee file happened to be sitting on the desk when I arrived in the cash office on Saturday morning. And it accidentally fell (into my hands, actually). A photocopy of New Boy’s driver’s license slipped out (also into my hands, surprisingly enough). And by mistake, I happened to notice that New Boy is three years older than me, which means that when I stop lollygagging on the back porch in my bikini, I will perhaps deign to speak to him.