"Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity." ~ Gilda Radner

Friday, February 24, 2012


Piled in plastic totes and moldy cardboard boxes stashed about my basement (and at the bottom of my attic closet) are reams of evidence that I spent the better part of the past 30-or-so years writing... and was actually paid for it. Even won several awards.

Yes, I once made a living steeped in words.

I love words. I love writing. I love blogging.  Blogging is writing. I blog, therefore I am still a writer. I just don't get paid  to write.

How ironic, then, that I -- a writer/successful former newspaper reporter/columnist with a BS in magazine journalism -- now spend the lion's share of my days up to my eyeballs not in words, but in numbers.

I  do not love numbers.

Never met a math problem I liked. Ever. Take me beyond addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, and  I am totally lost. The only reason I passed freshman algebra in high school was because I wormed my way into my teacher's life as a dependable babysitter for his infant son.

Fractions? Who needs them. Scores? I can never remember them.  Weights and measurements? I avoid them. Is it two pints to a quart, four quarts to a gallon, or four pints to a quart, two quarts to a gallon? I can NEVER keep that straight. No wonder I barely passed Home Ec.

Ack! Numbers! My nemesis!

Oh, yes, while I may still fancy myself a wordsmith, the truth is I am number encumbered six days a week.

What exactly, then,  do you do for a living?

Customer service. But with a numerical bent.

Long story short, for  7 1/2 hours a day, Monday through Friday, I toggle like mad between various computer programs, web sites and spread sheets, recording data by copying and pasting a gazillion prices, model numbers, serial numbers, addresses, zip codes, phone numbers, shipping costs, taxes, tracking numbers, dates, times, etc., etc., etc.

I log into my phone with special numbers, and have to log out of my phone with special numbers every time I have to leave my desk to go to the bathroom, check the printer, go to lunch or go to a meeting.

Three nights a week, and each Saturday morning, I'm a grocery store cashier. I must remember the PLU numbers for seemingly a bazillion fruits and vegetables, recall dozens of customers' charge account numbers, add up lottery scratch ticket payouts, and smile unceasingly at the customer armed with fists full of coupons of varying amounts (are they doubled or not?) while trying not to sneer at the mother at the next register yelling and threatening her toddler with abandonment if he does not put the candy down and come to her side THIS MINUTE.


Bobby, of course, immediately starts sobbing. Loudly. Wailing, really.

Having my own abandonment issues, and being just a bit of an empath, I immediately feel Bobby's emotional pain, and neglect to notice that my customer with the coupons wanted 10 dollars back from her debit card. Furthermore,  what I thought was a coupon for Enfamil was actually a manufacturer's check, so I have to void the coupon, re-enter it as a check...and oh, would I mind giving her two fives for that $10 bill?  (I hand her the Lincolns). No, wait,  how 'bout a five and five singles?

Arghgh. Grrrrrr. Pfffft.

Numbers! Numbers! Numbers!

Nevertheless, unlike writing (at the moment), working with numbers equals paying the bills. And that is one mathematical "equation" I understand.

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