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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Push The Mouse Away and Slowly Step Away from the Spreadsheet...

The last year or so has been a challenge at work that I have not only sullenly risen to meet but one in whose eye I have regularly spit.

How's that for awkward?

It is, of course, no more awkward than the many reports I’ve been asked to pull and manipulate. Ask anyone at work and they’ll tell you: Pearl enjoys a good swift numerical beating about the shoulders.

Picture me, won't you? I am continually surrounded by aggressive, uncooperative numbers. Some of them black and haughty, others red and thumbing their negative noses in my direction, they swirl around my head, tangle in my earrings and cause me to say things like “Have you checked the date parameters?” and “You gonna have the contribution margin numbers for April done by the end of May?”

Don’t get the wrong idea. Numbers are necessary. Hey -- some of my best friends are numbers. Why, I once dated a number! But I’m a verbal kinda gal. I’m comfortable with the printed word, with speech. For example, when people start talking in circles? I’m quite good at getting to the heart of the subject, verbally. I’m not one for the ol’ “for the purposes of this argument, we’ll use this word to mean this.” No, sorry. We won’t. Any time someone wants to amend the meaning of a word, it’s because they want that word’s dignity to be associated with what they’re about to sell you.

Pay no attention to the dog poop on the sidewalk! We prefer to call it “urban mousse”.

Hmmm. I don’t know where that came from.

Ah, yes. Numbers.

While I may have a good solid grasp on the English language and can understand other languages what are close to it, I’m afraid I might be one of those people who can be duped out of money through numerical chicanery.

“Do you have change for a twenty?”

No. No, I don’t; and even if I did, I would tell you that I didn’t, because within a couple exchanges, I will have given you a twenty, there would be some fast-talking, perhaps some flirtation, and I’d walk away with a ten-dollar bill, red-faced and wondering what in sam hill just happened.

It hasn’t happened yet, but it could.

I don’t know. I don’t know where I went wrong. One day I knew exactly what I was doing, the next day I was being asked to pull together a monthly forecast by region and would I drill down to the office level and include columns speaking to the percentage of change from one week to the next.

Huh?

I said, “Of course,” but I didn’t know what I was getting into.

Claudia tells me I’m just that much more a valued employee, that I’m “knowledge-based”, which I think is sneaky-number-talk for “fast 10-keyer”.

I’m on to her.

So I take copious notes and ask a lot of questions, because when times are hard and you’re given the opportunity to add on to your skill set, you do it. I’m no dummy.

Now if I could just get the ringing, elfin laughter of the numbers out of my head...

32 comments:

Simply Suthern said...

I like numbers. I once dated a 2.

Words elude me, confuse me and change meaning according to region. Numbers always tell the truth except maybe in polls where they are manipulated by words. And then there are the imaginary numbers that are best defined by showing you my checkbook.

laughingmom said...

I've always loved numbers because they are only defined by their quantity or lack thereof. There's no "What do you mean by 1.5?" It's cut and dry. Now "urban mousse" - that could describe a lot of things that are found on the sidewalk! I love that term!!!

Pearl said...

Simply, for a man who prefers numbers, that was very well written!

laughingmom, well I do agree with you there. I have come, over time, to accept my new role but still miss the nuance of the old one!

haphazardlife said...

I loathe numbers. We have a hate hate relationship numbers and I.

And contrary to what Simply says, numbers can be made to say anything at all. Whatever. Whenever. They're sneaky and manipulative they are.

Bleh.

- Jazz

R. Jacob said...

I must tell you that I am mtah, uh, tham, err, maht challenged. Now with words, I must say that I am most comfortable, nary a mistake!

Doubting Thomas said...

"Billy, don't touch that urban mousse! You don't know how long it's been there!" "But mom, it's got a nice crust on it, can't I just touch it?"

Wow. That was random. See what you started? ;)

Pat said...

I always know you had a brain;)

Eva Gallant said...

I used to be a strong 8 in my youth, but now I'm closer to a 2. And I won't even say on which side of the two you would find me.

Pearl said...

:-) FYI, everyone, I've been to a number of your blogs and on some of them I cannot comment! Blogger isn't recognizing me, and some blogs neither allow name/URL comments (or anonymous) and some don't have e-mail addresses attached. How will I reach you? How will I tell you if your blog post cracked me up?

This is no way to start a week.

Leenie said...

Okay, the first four paragraphs brought on either a hot flash or some kind of passionate desire to lick the number four. I kinda blanked out after that...erm, what were you saying?

Brian Miller said...

urban mousse...nice...used to crunch the numbers back in the day...kinda glad i dont now...or have to put together reports like that...nope dont miss it...

Cake Betch said...

I got swindled once by someone who was really good with numbers. It was when I was working as a cashier at Big Bear (back in the good old days). It also happened to be in the same week that I turned in my two week notice and the first time my drawer came up short. I'm sure they totes believed me when I told them what happened.

Douglas said...

I worked with numbers for many years. Of course, those were phone numbers. And then it was all zeros and ones after that. Except when I had to convert from octal to hex and then to binary. I pride myself on being able to do all that without removing my shoes.

Dawn @Lighten Up! said...

Numbers? Yeah - they give me a headache.That is why I turned to the ogh-so- financially rewarding world of blogging.

Daisy said...

I like "order"...numbers that add up nicely, and hopefully on the plus side in my cheque book. But until now, I haven't given it much thought. I like words too!

Georgina Dollface said...

Oh, I'm not a big fan of numbers, unless they are black and stacked up on my bank statement (but that doesn't happen too often these days). I'm OK with the four basic math functions (I'm actually pretty fast at doing them in my head too), but fractions? geometry? algebra? pi? Fuggedaboutit! - G

Silliyak said...

I'm sure you Excel at what you do.

jabblog said...

Numbers scare me:-/

Anonymous said...

I like numbers...I'm a former math teacher...a black & white numbers, equations, algebra 2 word problems and Excel spreadsheets person. But I covet the gift of word-crafting that you have. I am sorry that you must now deal so much with spreadsheets, something that is not at all fun for you.

Best wishes as you climb the steep learning curve of date parameters and contribution margin numbers.

Anonymous said...

The anonymous comment above was by me, Pat VanderBeek of http://www.patandjerry.com/

For some reason my computer is not allowing me to sign in for certain websites.

Mustang Sally said...

Numbers hate me, and the feeling is mutual. I feel ya.

Silliyak said...

Also it should be pointed out that the only number to be afraid of is YOUR number, and with luck, you won't know when that comes up.

Audubon Ron said...

Sounds like a lot of managerial accounting to me.

Around here I often ask the Little Woman what exactly IS the marginal utility with respect to price?

Translation: Sex once a month is never going to cut it.

Susan in the Boonies said...

Extending to you my deepest sympathies for the pile of urban mousse that work has sent your way.

Belle said...

Anything past addition and subtraction makes my eyes well up. I had a guy rip me off with "change for a twenty" when I worked for A&W. Yeah, I had to pay for it myself out of my huge wage.

Wow, that was awkward said...

I like fuzzy math. And I like my kids' jokes that I remember from when I was a kid: Why is six afraid of seven? Because seven ate nine!

Gigi said...

No one asks me to work with numbers - they all know my aversion to them. Sure I'm a whiz with a spreadsheet but can I tell you if the formulas are calculating correctly? No. And this, my friend, is why I am in the legal department. It's all words.

lisleman said...

Pearl, you are a number. A number 1 in coming up with great post titles. I got so much joy from the title that I thought of skipping the post but I'm glad I read it. I did a post long ago about a tricky number puzzle. Let me know if you want the link - I can't calculate where it is at the moment.

ThreeOldKeys said...

Urban Mousse. That reminds me of the cat litter commercial that referred to Odor Clumps.

My mechanical engineer son did his resume in Excel.

Numbers lack nuance and refuse to be nudged by context ... Words are my friends.

Thanks for the opportunity to make 3 random, unrelated comments.

Sandra said...

Could you tutor my son in math? I'll pay you twenty bucks. I swear you'll get the entire 20, not just 10. I'm not clever enough to bamboozle you! :)

Ricky Shambles said...

Keep an open mind. 10 years ago my boss said "We've got this program called Dreamweaver. Anyone want to learn to make web pages?" and now I'm my own boss which gives me the time I desire to write and play video games. Just sayin'...

Miss Scarlet said...

Numbers???
*runs for the hills*
Sx