Monday, May 28, 2007

Of Beer and Calculators

Back when life was fun, I was a tour guide at a brewery.
John was my boss, and we loved to harass each other.

But this story begins at the end... After the brewery was shut down, bulldozed, and paved over for a new shopping mall.

About six years ago, I attended my grandma's funeral. (You remember my grandma. She's the angel who couldn't keep track of her cookies.) At the dinner following the service, I was seated at a table full of relatives who knew me far better than I knew them.

One gentleman in particular looked very familiar.
"Excuse me," I said. "I know that I know you, but I just can't place how I know you."
He introduced himself. His name was Arnie. Of course, he was a distant relative...
(Side note: I have a million relatives. I haven't met them all, there are so many. I once bumped into a new guy at the city volleyball league, introduced myself, and he replied, "Yeah, I know." Turned out he was a cousin. *shrug*)
... but that wasn't how I knew Arnie.

He used to be the head accountant at the brewery.
Ah. Yes, I remembered him.

"That's right!" I said. "You used to ask me to double-check calculations for you sometimes!"

Let me explain:
Halfway through my employment at the brewery, I was invited to split my day. I would spend my mornings as a tour guide with John, and I would spend the afternoon in the corporate office across the street as company receptionist. (I had a phone with at least 100 extensions on it. Cool!)
On slow days, Arnie would bring me columns of figures to add up just to have someone verify his calculations.

One day, he brought me a spreadsheet and two calculator tapes and asked me to tally them up.
"I could," I told him that day, "But I've already added them. You see, these are my tapes."
He had looked at me funny, but agreed that it wouldn't make sense for me to verify my own calculations.

At the funeral, when I reminded him of this, Arnie remembered it, too.
"That was very odd," he remarked.

"The story behind that is kinda funny, if you'd like to hear it."
He did. And by this time, several other people at our table were leaning in to listen.

It had been a very slow day all around.
Even John and I had nothing to do.
He called me into his office where the tours start, sat me in his chair, and pointed to a spreadsheet.
"See this column of numbers?" he asked.
I nodded.
"See this calculator?"
I nodded.
"I'm going across the street. By the time I get back, I wanna see this column of numbers on this calculator tape. Got it?"
I nodded.

He left.
I added.

I'm not sure if John realized I'd spent four years as a grocery store cashier. My number-key skills and speed were outstanding.

I finished my task probably before he'd even crossed the street.

So, I added the numbers up again.
I separated both tapes and waited for him to come back.

I didn't wait long.
When he walked in, I was reclining in his chair whistling a tune with my feet up on his desk.
He was amused that I looked so smug.

"Let me see your work," he demanded.

I sat up and proudly handed him a slip of paper.
He looked it up and down (as if he was really looking at it), compared it to the spreadsheet, "Uh huh. Mm hm. This seems to be in order."
But before I could pretend to enjoy his false praise, he barked at me, "Now! Do it again to double-check your figures!"

That's when I smartly whipped out the second tape.
"I already did!"

***

"So, you understand why I couldn't double check those figures for you," I explained to Arnie.

He and the other funeral guests burst out laughing!
Arnie agreed it was a very good side of the story to hear, even if he had waited eleven years to hear it.

2 comments:

Mrs. Who said...

Does someone like being a smart-a$$?
*runs away before Roses can throw something!*

Roses said...

::Is too busy relaxing with her feet up on a desk to throw anything::