Jul 18, 2006

Makes you want to tear your hair out.

We've all worked those jobs that had at least one employee who seemed less then, shall I say, smart. When it finally becomes obvious that such a worker is too incompetent to manage a place among the low skilled workforce I'm often curious as to how this person exists outside the workplace. How do they pay their bills? How do they handle tasks such as laundry, cooking, etc.

I once worked as a camera salesman/photo lab tech for a large retail camera chain. I met many a type at that job. Some took it so seriously you would think they were working for the Peace Corps. Some didn't give a damn. And some made you feel pain for the fate of humanity.

Once interesting girl was Wynona, who called herself "Nona" for short. When Wynona first started she seemed enthusiastic about her newfound employment, but early in her training I found her to be the dimmest bulb.

Selling consumer/amateur cameras was pretty simple. All you really had to know was what the symbols on each camera meant in case the customer had questions about them and simply hand the device to the customer to let them play with it. We had a broad selection so it would be hard to not find a point and shoot camera that wouldn't fit someone's needs.

Wynona had such difficulty remembering the symbols that I wrote out a spreadsheet with the definitions of each and every function of all of our products. When a customer asked a question about a certain symbol, such as the lighting bolt which meant flash, she would throw up her hands in frustration and yell "I know nuttin about no cameras" and pleaded for someone to help her. I guess she found that to be a better solution than referencing the sheet I made for her.

Wynona had a problem with math as well. She was counting out the till and seemed to arrive at an impasse.

"Erik," Wynona said with much confusion. "What's 20-16?"

"You don't know?" I replied.

"No," she said. "I'm no good with this."

"It's okay Wynona," I said.

Frustrated with her inability to figure things out on her own I made her figure it out on paper. When she couldn't do that she pulled out the calculator. She couldn't compute that as well, which still beguiles me to this day. Finally I gave her the answer as we would've been there all night doing simple calculations.

When customers came in to pick up their prints they would often show off their pictures to the employees. I was cleaning up the counters when I hear Wynona starting to get excited when a customer displayed her vacation pictures.

"Erik," Wynona cried. "This lady went to Paris aaaaaaand France!"

The customer got a puzzled look on her face. I didn't correct Wynona as I was kind enough not to make her feel like the idiot she displayed herself to be. It probably would've taken a long conversation in explaining that Paris is indeed in France, one that I didn't have time for.

Alas Nona quit her job all of a sudden one day saying she was moving to California with her boyfriend. She wasn't missed as a worker, but as a source of comedy she was truly tough shoes to fill.

"In Paris, one is always reminded of being a foreigner. If you park your car wrong, it is not the fact that it's on the sidewalk that matters, but the fact that you speak with an accent." - Roman Polanski


Grace said...

Honestly though, calculators are very complex these days. I mean, pressing little buttons, reading the answer off the screen... not everybody's a rocket scientist.

Wiwille said...

Grace - Yeah a calculator is quite the complex tool. Apparently for Nona so is a globe.