In honor of Memorial Day and the fact that I’m too busy relaxing to write, I thought I’d pilfer a bit of amusement penned by Yours Truly exactly one year ago.
This was written before I was Freshly Pressed for the first time (which means it will be new to all but the most loyal amongst you), before I’d quit my job at The Shop and before I’d launched my online dating “experiment.” I’ve come to refer to this period of my life as The Dark Ages and I entreat each and every last one of you to please shoot me if I even think about spending another six months as miserable as I was during the time that I wrote this.
A year later, I can look back and see that I lost a part of myself during those six months—and I don’t just mean the part of myself that would go rock climbing or backpacking through Europe as opposed to getting all gussied up for a night at the Union League. I mean something crucial—something that made me hate my job and subsequently my entire life and very nearly robbed me of the will to do something about it.
Memorial Day, 2010: 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: 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.
One Year Later: All I can say is Thank God this is no longer my life. Not much in the first paragraph has changed (I still live with my parents and my little brother still makes more money than I do) but at least I have done something about the rest. Also when I said I was too busy “relaxing” to write something new for today, I was lying. I’m actually too busy having wild and crazy sex with…
Okay, so yeah, that’s a lie too. The truth is I’m too busy working on my final lesson plans of the year for a job I love, designing our promotional materials for the show I’m co-producing this fall and writing my first official grant proposal as a performing artist. This work in progress is finally progressing.