Monday, May 05, 2008

Happy Cinco de Mayo! And now for the credit cards...

It's been about 4 years since I last worked in customer service, but it feels like almost yesterday. I was assistant to the manager (not assistant manager) in a small university ticket office for a year and a half. Every morning -- in the off season it wasn't as frequent -- I would count the cash from the previous day, reconcile the charges with the POS system, zip the money up in a locked bag, and walk it across campus to deposit.

Our office got very hot in summer and rather cold in winter, as it was a World War II era bungalow with no insulation. Only one window opened, but no air came through. We had fans and space heaters that didn't work but looked good. Often we would tilt back the little piece of plastic that covered the hole where you slid the tickets through the window, and *will* the air to circulate. I remember one day there was an earthquake, and the floor wobbled and the wooden blinds shook. The walls were covered in green carpet, so we could Velcro the latest show posters to the wall. It was unpredictable, but not too bad.

I spent a lot of time in that little space crammed with too many bodies, taking phone orders, taping ticket stubs to a piece of paper that inevitably disappeared into a filing cabinet, and updating 4 databases with address changes for the mailing list. It was a nice break from all that pesky computer support I'd been doing previously.

But I sure did enjoy counting their money.

I am reminded of this now because in the living room is my new credit card machine I've plugged in for the first time. It's bringing me back to batches and settlements and reconciling transactions, and it's making me a little bit nervous that this time it will all be on me. No one else to call for help. Or blame. Just me.

As a result I am reading the 65 page Merchant Processing Guide, and the machine operating guide. Once the battery is charged I will call in for training, but I have to do that at 6am some morning this week. That is unfortunate. Eastern time is unfortunate, I say.

The sun set awhile ago and I realize the brownies I ate for dinner are no longer sustaining my desire to grok merchant accounts. So off I go.

As for Cinco de Mayo, it makes me ache for really big, really good, really messy burritos wrapped tight in foil and bursting with rice, beans, cheese, carnitas or carne asada, sour cream, and hot hot salsa. And guacamole if you have it. Yes, I realize the day stands for more, but right now it just makes me miss the food.

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