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Monday, August 29, 2011

Say, Do You Have Two Tens for a Twenty? – No. Wait. If You Could Give Me Two Fives and – Here, Hold This for a Second…

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. I am continually surrounded by aggressive, uncooperative numbers. Some of them black and haughty, others red and thumbing their negative noses in my direction, swirl around my head, tangle in my earrings and cause me to say things like “Have you checked the date parameters?” and “Q2 is dead! Long live Q3!”

Don’t get the wrong idea. Some of my best friends are numbers. 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 something, 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 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 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.

I just wish I didn’t feel like the numbers laugh at me when I leave my desk.

36 comments:

Simply Suthern said...

Numbers do not laugh at you. Numbers scream here I am. Do the math right and I will be there with you. Numbers are your friend, Well unless they are red then they kick your arse.

Words can and will fail you. They fool or down right lie to you.

Then again numbers cant make you laugh. Hmmm, unless it's the loan guy giggling over my credit score.

Okay, I have no point here.

Buttons said...

Oh I am glad you visited my blog. I love your words. I am going to enjoy reading your posts. B

Leenie said...

There's a saying in the U.K.--"Everything before the "but" (butt) is bull." That applies to circling the point in so many ways. I admire anyone who has such skills in verbal and yet can keep her numbers in line.

I get confused just keeping the numbers straight on my calculator. However, I see numbers in color--3=yellow, 2=blue. I'm told most people don't.

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mybabyjohn/Delores said...

Numbers ARE nasty. I am probably the only person I know who can add up a column of figures six times WITH a calculator and get six different answers. I then go for the seventh attempt and if it matches anything that MUST be the right answer. Numbers and me...not a good match.

Russ said...

After 10 years in accounting, I got used to the numbers laughing at me. Now I'm going to teach math! More numbers (and letters) to laugh at me!

Julianna said...

My son, he's 9, he's our number guy. We don't even use caluclators when he's around.

Yesterday he was having me teach him square roots.

Now HTML... it hates me. And anything with a plug and a wireless connection hates Tony.

Here's hoping Oldest takes a liking to both of these things or we're doomed.

Leauxra said...

I keep telling the numbers I love them, and it seems to help, even if I don't mean it.

Basically instead of shouting, "F&@& YOU!!!" at the top of my lungs, I quietly and passionately say, "I love you."

I think my cube neighbors wonder what it is I do all day.

vanilla said...

Pearl, for the sake of this discussion, let's say that "entertaining" means, well just exactly what you think it means. Your tales of the worksite are entertaining!

Pearl said...

You know, I enjoy the fact that numbers are either right or wrong. Unless I have them wrong. :-)

Belle said...

Numbers are a foreign language to me. If you want to make me cry, ask me to figure out a math question.

Hospitable Scots Bachelor said...

What are Date Parameters? A measure of how "fresh" you can get on your first date?

Susan in the Boonies said...

It's a completely foreign language to me as well.

I admire you for adding to your skill set, though!

Joshua said...

We do laugh. I mean, they...they do laugh.

jabblog said...

Numbers have the ability to reduce me to tears of frustration . . .
Leenie said - 'There's a saying in the U.K.-"Everything before the "but" (butt) is bull."' - I've never heard this saying and I've lived in UK all my life, mostly south of Watford - could that be why?

IndigoWrath said...

I salute your stance on number; I have no truck with them. Every month, my paychecks mock me. Bastards.

George said...

Urban mousse. I like that term.

jenny_o said...

Excellent post!

SherilinR said...

i was scrolling through all your comments, amazed that no one had commented on your delightful term of "urban mousse". then i saw that george did. thank you, george.
and thank you, pearl, i'm going to call it that next time my kid steps in it & freaks the heck out.

Audubon Ron said...

I am not a bully except when it comes to numbers. I use to do a lot of stats and briefings and I would tell my peeps, if you don't like this number I can get another. If they'd say, "Yeah, another number please", I'd go into the backroom and herd numbers in an Excel spreadsheet and say, "Listen y'all, you only exist b/c of this formula. If you don't do what I want all I got to do is change one decimal and you're gone. And I use ALL of my decimals."

Linda Myers said...

Actually, awful as they are, numbers are good for you.

The Elephant's Child said...

Numbers are very, very scary. And just when you think you have beaten them into submission they sneak up and bite you. Ditto for any of the science fields (I am thinking physics and chemistry) which depend on numbers. Vicious and untrustworthy. I think I prefer urban mousse - understand it better anyway.

The Jules said...

I have just discovered that I am a polymath. I can combine the attributes of numeracy and literacy to create a synergistic totality that demonstrates my key achievemnts in these fields, and I can teach you Pearl.

Oh, yes, I can teach you.

Just yesterday, I typed in 58008 into a calculator and then turned it upside down.

I believe Richard Feynman would have the alacrity to grasp this and might nod sagely at this, were he still alive, but few others.

So very few others.

Middle-aged Mormon Man said...

Genius: "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."

Yes, the words jump out at me. I gloss over anything to do with numbers.

R. Jacob said...

There are number people and there are word people. As a rule they do not mix.

Also for a moment I thought you were under attack by black and red checkers! maybe my medication needs adjusting...

Linda O'Connell said...

Numbers? Nuh-uh! Letters, uh-huh! I can't even get the correct sum on a calculator.

Amber Star said...

Oh Pearl...I nearly died laughing at, well, you first and then Audobon Ron. When I was asked to show the degree of change in the amount of participation of a group in a monthly report, I called my husband and he told me how to do it, then did it for me and then wrote it down for me to take to work. It was probably still in my desk when I, under the influence of Chantix, told a sort of "big guy dude" that he couldn't talk to me like that, because I quit. And I left within the hour. I told my boss by email I was quitting and he could find my key with his secretary. I never regretted it and I could, because my husband had worked enough years and we had saved enough that it was ok for me to just quit. Oh yes, I still haven't smoked again, either.

Gigi said...

@mybabyjohn/Delores - it's nice to meet someone else who deals with numbers the same way I do!!!

I ABHOR numbers!! Words? Words, I LOVE.

Jhon Baker said...

One of the greatest skills I ever learned was how to "Quick change" people. I've never done it to someone but I've been able to prevent it from happening to me on more than one occasion. (having worked retail this was a common occurrence.

darlin said...

I love the way you write, you bring everything you talk about to life. I'm also a word lover and have a great appreciation for those who know how to use them effectively.

Eva Gallant said...

I say jump on the bus and go home!

Kara said...

My husband's the number person which means I've become so lazy in regards to them, when someone spouts numbers at me, all I hear is "mwa mwa mwa" like adult-talk in the Charlie Brown cartoons.

Crystal Pistol said...

"urban mousse": simultaneously disgusting and brilliant.

River said...

Your title is actually part of the training video for checkout operators. We're told to pay close attention and not get bamboozled by customers, because at the end of the day our till MUST balance.

Clint said...

Numbers schnumbers. They can mean anything you want them to mean, good or bad. I can write like you but would require cannabis ingestion beforehand. Nice post.

who said...

wondering what just happened? if you didn't absolutely positively have a hot flash without the hot flash but such a thorough sweating you have to tell people that ask that the chair you sat down in was wet, then I would demand my money back. Because you should get two for twenty (one for now and another for later)

and one for ten, so if you have ten I would hope your cottons were soaked through and tips of fingers slightly knumb