Job interviews are like blind dates, and your first day at work is like the second. No one is quite sure of the other.
In the spring of 1975, after having been fired the day after Christmas in 1974, of which I have previously posted, I worked part time at Thom McAn as a shoe dog with one of my brothers. The manager, Marvin, was a piece of work—he would only hire me if I agreed to go to college. Probably this was illegal even then, but eating, as they say, beats not eating, so I agreed.
But while that was a fun job and I really liked the manager (who I worked for again later), this is not a story about him or that store.
I had been bugging the manager of Madcats, the record shop a little ways down the mall, for months for a job without any success until one day he had just fired a guy and needed a replacement badly. So the manager, Chuck, asked me if I had ever used the register they had in the shop.
It was the same as Thom McAn had and I had once rung up a sale when Marvin was doing something in the back. When he found out about it, he almost killed me on the spot and told me never again to do such a thing. But, thing was, I had in fact used the register before, so, knowing the correct answer was “Yes” and knowing that it was not technically lying, I replied “yes,” thinking I would hustle my little self down the mall and get a lesson from Marvin.
This was about 11 AM and Chuck told me to be back at noon, ready to go. So, I ran to Marvin and got a lesson in using the register and in counting change and made my way back to the record shop by one. A few minutes later, in walks Marvin to go to lunch with his best friend, Chuck and they left me alone for a couple of hours, during which time I figured the thing out. The worst thing that happened was the register tape ran out and it took me half an hour to get a new one in place and that took the kelp of a customer.
Eventually, Chuck told me he knew exactly what I had done because Marvin told him but that I faked it well enough to get by. I worked there 4 1/2 years before quitting to go to college full-time, which is where I ran into Marvin again, but that is another story.
One might think I learned my lesson, but one would be wrong.
Many years later, I moved to Tulsa to work for the #9 accounting firm as an audit manager. They asked me to do a short-term special project in Houston before they worked me into the audit rotation. Three years later, I was still working on the special project.
This was in 1985 and in 1985 desktop personal computers were still fairly scarce. Portable computers were even rarer—too dang expensive.
So anyway, I get to the job site in Houston and there are about 20 accountants all sitting at a conference table or two, entering numbers on what we used to call “horse blankets” 24 column Wilson Jones pads. I asked what the end product was and my boss told me that in a couple of weeks, he would bring in the computer guys and they would turn all the 24 column pages into a report and that to do so, they would input every single number on the pads into a Lotus 123 worksheet. I asked why they didn’t just get the machines on site, have the accountants in place enter the numbers once into the computer and save a step.
He asked me if I had ever used Lotus. I had, once. So, you know what happened. I thought I would have a day or so to go to a ComputerLand Store that night and get educated. Wrong. My boss was on the board of the accounting firm and about two hours later, six or eight very expensive portable computers showed up right before lunch. This was my first day at work and I figured I was gonna get fired before dinner.
I could not even turn the thing on. I just sat staring at it and when my boss said it was time to go eat, I told them to go on and I would set up all the machines while they were at lunch. Somehow I got lucky. Again.
I do not recommend this to anyone. Taking these chances is not a good thing and most of the time, I guess they blow-up in your face. I got lucky. For me it worked those two times and many times after that. I don’t know if I survived on luck or if god takes care of lunatics…