Sunday, March 13, 2011

Blackouts and the Remarkable Cell Phone

When I walked into work on Thursday, I noticed the building seemed dark. Most of it is outdoors and there are skylights in the ceiling so I thought that maybe I was imagining the darkness. As I neared the registers I began to recognize that something was amiss. My boss seemed a little panicked and the regional manager approached me with the command to call Centerpoint Energy and find out when they were going to get the power back on.

I knew it! I could tell it was dark! Ok, I thought, no problem. I'll go look Centerpoint's phone number up on the internet...

No power= no internet. Hmm... plan B.

Phonebook? I thought. Nope. We are too modern to have a phonebook...but I searched the office anyway (in the dark) and found nothing.

How dependent we are upon electricity. In dispair I sank into a chair to think about another option.

One of my employees entered and I mentioned what I was trying to do and why I was sitting in the black office. Call 411, he suggested.

Good! However, the store phones were out too, oh electricity! I used my cell phone.

Tanya with Centerpoint told me that power had been accidentally cut to 500 of their other customers (though she didn't tell me why) and that it would return in about two hours.

Pleased that I had accomplished my mission, I informed the manager. She was very upset about the amount of time left without power and my excitement was dashed.

I hurried to the registers to find out what else I could do.

My boss told me to use a calculator, pen and paper to ring people up. "Write down everything and only accept cash or checks."

Where can I get a calculator? There are only two and both were in use.

With no time to run to a dollar store (and not knowing where one was), once again, my cell phone was needed. With only minor errors (like: accidentally erasing the total before I could read it -silly, over-sensitive touch screen...) I managed to move people out of the store at a decent pace. The competitiveness in me loved that I beat my cashiers and their calculators.

I can tell you, when the power came back on only 40 minutes later, we were about ready to dance and sing with joy! We all had a skip in our steps and smiles in our voices as we finished the day.

We still never recovered our internet and therefore were unable to sell or use customers' gift cards until the following day, but that seemed much less severe than our earlier problem.

Without my cell phone I would not have made it through the morning. Hooray for the marvelous invention!

Monday, March 7, 2011

New Zealand and Burma

As a college student, I found that with no tv, I did not really keep an eye on the news. I had a little meter on my desktop to tell me about weather, and occasionally the school paper would mention something about the "outside world"- other than was easy to live with my head in the sand.
This weekend I learned about some tragedies I wanted to share with you.

The first I heard about at the Hillsong Concert on Friday:
In Christchurch, New Zealand there have been horrific earthquakes costing the lives of several and the homes of thousands...they are predicting up to 10,000 homes now! The size of the boulders that hit homes is incredible. Read this link for more information: The New Zealand Herald.

The second, one of my dear friends, Michelle, pointed out to me this weekend:
Burma has been a country of unrest for over a decade. Whole people groups have been or are being killed off because they refuse to accept the religion of buddhism. There are so many articles out there and I usually do not use wikipedia, but it listed a great outline of what is happening: Internal Conflict in Burma.
My friend has been heartbroken over the people (about half a million) killed in the last decade.

I do not even know how to go about raising awareness for this issue, but I am starting with this post.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Tomatoes and Phone Calls

At last I have reached my day off...which means I get to do chores. Today's special chores include planting tomatoes, roses, and taking care of my neighbors' house.

Because I am job hunting, I have my phone with me all day. Everytime a new number calls I jump to answer with such hope in my heart! However, this morning the two calls I received were concerning "furthering" my education. I have already "furthered" my education. I have a Bachelors of Science which I studied, worked and paid for...most of it...student loans seem to multiply over time.

My first call this morning was my favorite so far.

"Miss Beard, we wanted to let you know that you are qualified to attend our school, may I send you some more information about it?"

Oh. How kind of you to accept me. I was looking for a JOB not another education. (Certainly I wouldn't mind taking some courses to further qualify me for a better position- but I don't have the time, money, or the chance of that better position at the moment.)

"No thank you, sir. I'm not interested."

And here he bulldozed over my answer: "Well then I wanted to let you know that you qualify for a free home security system worth up to $1000 if you answer a few questions. Are you currently a homeowner?"

What?! Um...if I'm still paying student loans and looking for a in the world could I afford to be a homeowner? Who thought this survey up?

"Sir, I have everything I need. Thank you." I replied.

"Oh" he mumbled. "Well I guess this won't work will it?"

"Thank you." I said again.

"Ok, bye." he finished and hung up.

I do not know who is responsible for all of this extra marketing for online education and home security systems, but I'm not very appreciative. I think I'll go plant my tomatoes now and relieve some stress.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The 5 Minute Employee

It's definitely Spring. We have hundreds of people entering our store every day, and it's pretty hard to keep everything running with only our full-time crew. Therefore, we have been hiring our temporary help for the next two months. 

I was told that a new guy, we'll call him "Joe", would be coming in to fill out some paperwork and start working in the yard. Several people have been filling out applications the past few weeks and I was not surprised when I met "Joe". I had seen him turn in his application that afternoon, and apparently he was accepted immediately. 

One of my employees had just started giving him the grand tour of the store and I was quickly introduced before they got underway. 

It wasn't even ten minutes later that my employee walked in with a grin and said, "Well, that didn't last long!" 

"You're done with the tour already?!" we asked him. 

"Oh, he quit." my employee responded.

"What?!" we practically shouted in disbelief. It had to be a joke.

"Well, he mentioned he was allergic to plants and when I took him out to the yard he began sneezing a lot. He thought he wasn't going to have to work with the plants..."

"But it's a PLANT nursery! No matter what you do here, you come in contact with plants at all times. What was he thinking?" 

"I don't know, but he's gone." my employee finished...unable to wipe the grin from his face. He'd thoroughly enjoyed his break. "That was my first tour to give!"

"And it's the last!" my boss hollered with a twinkle in his eye before calling corporate and telling them to cancel "Joe's" paperwork.

The interior manager was practically wiping tears from her eyes, she was laughing so hard. "It's such a zoo here, but I believe that is a record for the shortest amount of time someone has worked here!"

We laughed and hired another guy a couple of hours later. In retail, the door is constantly revolving!