Thursday, May 5, 2011

Today's fortune: Cinco de Mayo, 2011

Today's fortune: You will obtain your goal if you maintain your course.

Over the past two days, it almost seemed like just the opposite was coming true.

I've been doing better at work at keeping things under control, and I finally feel like I can manage this job. My inventory of widgets is down to 59, which is a good, comfortable number. They like to keep widget makers in the 50-70 range; anything above 70 sets off red flags. A month ago, when I hit the wall (and then hit the freakin' thing again), my inventory was flirting with 80.

So time management is no longer a pressing issue. Now, my biggest concern is the quality of my work.

Widget makers are judged on three main criteria: speed, accuracy and customer service. Really, accuracy and customer service both speak to quality, and in both of these areas I had minor setbacks this week.

On Tuesday, I received a customer service survey that wasn't too good. Almost all of my surveys so far have received a score of 100 percent. This one was a 64 percent.

My supervisor reassured me that these things happen, not all of them can be perfect. I get that. And the survey wasn't really that bad; the surveyor just marked a few things as "good" instead of "great," which drives the score downward.

But then on Wendesday, I received an audit of one of my widgets, which is how the company determines our accuracy. Again, many of my audits have resulted in a score of 100 percent, or at least in the 90s. The audit I received on Wednesday had a score of 16 percent.


What happened was I made one big mistake and a bunch of small ones. My supervisor said she was going to fight the big mistake, because she doesn't really believe it's a mistake. But even with the big mistake wiped away, the score wouldn't be very good at all.

Again, my supervisor told me I shouldn't worry about it. She wasn't worried, she said. I appreciated that.

And I'm hoping it's just a fluke that these two bad things happened in quick succession.

But I know what my goal is. We're having a paintball-themed competition of sorts in the office. For the month of May, each time someone gets a 100 percent score on a customer service survey, their name will be written on a paint "splatter" and taped to the wall. Yesterday splatters started appearing sporadically on the wall. Now, the place looks like a paintball warzone.

My goal is simple: I want one of those goddamn splatters.

I'll have to leave this one in the hands of the fortune cookie gods: surveys go out to a certain percentage of our customers, but there's never a guarantee that they'll actually fill it out and send it back. I could offer great customer service all month and not get a single survey.

So come on, fortune cookie gods. I need this.


For today's Green Week update, I'd like to share with you one of my favorite musical memories.

Back when Jamie and I were dating, we had the distinct privilege of seeing the legendary Ray Charles in concert. The night was pure magic. Ray was nearing the end of his life, but his voice was still deep and bawdy and rich and amazing. We listened with rapt attention as he played all his classics.

But then he started tapping somber tune on the piano, and I recognized it instantly as a favorite from his back catalog: "Bein' Green."

When he belted out that first line, "It's not that eeeeeasy bein' greeeeeen," the audience, which recognized the song first and foremost as the Kermit the Frog song, started to laugh politely. Jamie started laughing too, but I whispered to her, "Don't laugh. This is a touching song." Before long, nobody was laughing.

It's about feeling comfortable in your own skin, even when you're seemingly different from everybody else. It's a message Ray Charles could certainly understand. And really, it's a message every single person has felt at one time or another: it's not that easy being green. But sometimes it's the best damn thing in the world.