GETTING MORE TALE #706: Additional Complaint
I used to tell the store owner and his second-in-command, “We are only using about 10% of what these computers are capable of doing.” They were great for inventory and point of sale. We eventually started using them to print out header cards for CDs. It seemed like the owner and those beneath him weren’t interested in getting the most out of our computers. I think they saw potential abuse as “toys” — gaming and chatting etc.
That wasn’t what I was driving at. I used to have to maintain a sales log. It was a big blue book full of pages for bookkeeping. It was handy because the boss could open it up and have a quick look at what sales were last night, last week, last year, and so on. We kept track of our purchases and free CD giveaways in the log book. At various points in time, I was maintaining multiple log books. I had one when I was in charge of the store website. Whenever there was a staffing issue, and I had to cover at another branch for an extended period, there was another log book.
It always irked me that we were not permitted to use Microsoft Excel instead of (or even in addition to) the sales log. There is one thing I have always sucked at, and continue to suck at: adding up a large column of numbers. The reasons for this are two:
- My big stupid fingers are always mashing the wrong buttons on a calculator, and
- When I stare at numbers too long they all start to jump around. 2112 looks like 2121, and so on.
My suggestions to use Excel for the log book were always shot down. For all I know, 12 years later they could still be using the big blue log books exclusively. We did use Excel to calculate the values of our inventory, so I didn’t get what the big deal was.
It really pissed me off one afternoon in the store, when I was struggling to add up the numbers for month end. The weekly totals were off, so I had to find where. I had a system for finding these kinds of problems and part of it was manually adding up all the days’ sales. Every time you start adding a large series of numbers and the phone rings or someone asks a question, I tended to lose my place. So it took a while. And every time I added the numbers, I was getting different results. I’d been at it forever and couldn’t figure it out.
They’d just given me another staffer who would be helping in the afternoons when I used to be alone. I asked him if he wouldn’t mind checking the sum, to see what total he would get. He did and that’s exactly when the Store Bully walked in.
“Mike, why are you getting Dave to do the books for you?!” she yelled. Of course, out of context, it probably looked that way. But she wouldn’t even let me finish a sentence, and when I finally did, she said my story was “bull”. She made her comment that the new guy wasn’t to be my personal servant. Is that what she thought of me? And of course this went on my annual review. I protested it again, but she didn’t want to listen.
Dave didn’t get to finish adding that column, so I never found out what total he would have got. Imagine how easy it would have been if it was just Microsoft Excel.
Some of the people at the Record Store who were in positions of power were, unfortunately, troglodytes. They didn’t use computers regularly and were closed to ideas that didn’t come from preferential personnel. It was a rock and a hard place for me. They didn’t want to use computers to do the books, but I got “caught” getting someone to check my math. As if it’s highschool.
Actually, it was a lot like a highschool. And I wasn’t in the popular clique.