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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Life Lesson, The missed assignment

Who doesn't enjoy dessert from  time to time?  Sharing ice cream shakes at the local hangout with your spouse or your child can be a rich memory.  Certainly I've enjoyed such experiences with my wife, my son and my step-son.  But my story is a different one and highlights not just Dessert, but Just Desserts.  In 1982, I took a leave of absence from College to decide what I wanted to do in life. While the following years would prove this to be a wasted effort, I did learn a great deal about what I did not want to do with my life.  I worked for a period of time with an insurance company in the commissions department preparing distributions to he agents each month.  At nights, I found that I had time to work a second job and was ultimately hired to work as the night manager at Orange Julius in Thousand Oaks Mall.  For those not familiar with Orange Julius, they are a purveyor of the most delicious Orange Shakes that you will ever taste..  The store mamager was a strange, shifty character, but the job paid quite a bit better than Minimum wage and I was very happy to get the job.  When I started work at the store, The Store manager took great care in introducing me to the night staff, and walking me through the store shutdown procedures.  The job was not especially difficult. or taxing.  My role involved:

1) Supervising the night shift
2) Assisting customers during busy periods and closing down the store at the end of the evening.

For this second responsibility, the Store Manager spent some time carefully describing the closing procedures:

a) The store had to be cleaned so that the day crew would arrive to a clean store ready for business the following day.
b) The cash registers had to be closed out which required the final totals to be run on each machine, the cash was then removed and placed in a bank depository satchel.  Then the satchel along with the cash from the register drawers was placed in the store safe so that cash could be deposited  in the bank the following day after the register drawers were restocked from the satchel.

Each night, after I returned home from my day job, I would freshen up and then drive to the Thousand Oaks Mall, clock in and begin my duties.  I would start by going to the back office and reviewing any special instructions left by the day manager.  every so often, I would be called to the front of the store to assist with customer service during the many evening rushes.

I  found a comfortable routine in my two jobs.and I continued in this vein for several weeks.  about this time, I was contacted by the vanpool administrator for the insurance company and asked if I would be interested in taking a hand at the vanpool job which had recently opened.  I needed to commute quite a distance to the office which would be relocating nearer to my home in a few months, so, I needed to travel regardless and I accepted the position, which paid an additional $50 per day.

As time passed, I learned why the prior vanpool driver quit.  Everyone in a vanpool is very particular about how the van is driven and they complain loudly when there are near misses or sudden stops which are frequent in Los Angeles area traffic.  After 3 weeks, I was asked to quit and I complied with this request.  Shortly after quitting the vanpool driver position, I became aware that there was an intense drug culture in the commissions department at the insurnce company.  Furthermore, the old-guard employees were not happy about the department's relocation to Ventura County, as they all lived in Downtown Los Angeles.  This created a schism between the old guard and the new recruits, including myself.  I found that the training that I received was incomplete; as a new-hire, my work was scrutinized more heavily than the other staff and any errors in my work caused by the old-guarrd employees were pinned to me.  When my 90 day review came, I was fired citing errors in my work - errors that were caused by my co-workers mind you, but it did not matter.  The only person that I would be held accountable to was the Manager who was currently doing everything that she could to keep the department in Los Angeles until she could find a new job with equal or better pay.

The evening of my dismissal from the Insurance company I smiled as I went to work at my night job. No longer would i have to work two jobs.  No longer was I driving he vanpool.  I just had a rather easy gig as the Night manager for Orange Julius.  However, as fate would have it, I was greeted at the Orange Julius by the store owner.  It turned out that the Store Manager had informed the owner that someone had been stealing from the night depository satchel or the register drawers and that this theft had occurred on the night shift, which was my responsibility.  I was advised that I was fired. I asked the owner if she trusted her day manager, and explained that I knew for certain that he had been stealing the money.  She told me that if I didn't leave immediately that she would call the police and have me removed from the premises.  As I walked away I asked her why would her store manager would specifically advise the night manager not to talley the cash before locking it in the safes?  I also asked if my fate was the same as the prior night manager.  I never got an answer.  She simply pulled out her cell phone and started dialing -- perhaps to the police or the security office.  A scam like the one perpetrated by the store manager cannot be played indefinitely and even a store owner can only have the wool pulled over her eyes a few times before the certainty that the store manager is the culprit begins to dawn on her.  I suspect that this store manager after finally being relieved  of his duties a few months later moved on to bigger and better scams, before finally getting caught and spending 5 to 10 years in state prison, all stemming from an experience with that delicious dessert drink: Orange Julius!  Lesson learned:  Always be diligent and look over your shoulder and question authority relentlessly.

The reader may wondrer, ,what does this haft to do with "The Missed Assignment"?
Allow me to explain.  Now Jobless, I tucked tail and returned to college, Where I signed up for a creative writing class.  In the first month, I was given a writing assignment to produce  a story about a conflict. The most important requirement is that it could not be a story about a courtroom conflict.  I punted and wrote the courtroom conflict anyway as I didn't recall any conflicts, in my then short years on plaaet earth, that I felt would make for a good read...

Dear Professor,

Here is my rewritten assignment  I'm sorry that it is a few years late!

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