This blog is a place of experimentation, a place where I allow myself to be imperfect and make mistakes. I don’t strive for perfection or even excellence here — no. This is the canvas of creativity, this place. The place where I can let a mistake happen and see where it takes me. That must be why I seem to have established this tradition of at least one typo, incoherent sentence, or pictures in the wrong place per blog post. Maybe there will be a day when this blog becomes something more, but for right now, between us friends, what’s a few typos, right?
I have always been a people-pleaser, the resident good-girl (except, um, when I wasn’t. And I when I wasn’t, I reeeaaaallly wasn’t.). When I was in my late teens, maybe early twenties, I had this horrible little job in one of those jewelry kiosks in the middle of the mall. I hated — and still hate — working retail. A total freedom and choice kind of girl, nothing makes me feel more tied down than having to stand in one spot while watching a whole bunch of other people enjoy free time. Worse, they get to shop, which is one of my favorite past times.
Anyway, this guy came up to the kiosk and I began to help him. I answered his questions and showed him different options, and it quickly became clear that he was about to drop about $700 on a bracelet.
As soon as my manager — a nice enough woman, but maybe lacking in some people skills — noticed, she rushed over and took over the sale. Now, we weren’t working on commission or anything, and though I’m not proud to say this now, he could have been spending one dollar — it made no difference to me. But I immediately sensed the urgency my manager gave off as she began to bustle around, catering to this man and his money. She brushed me aside, dismissing me to handle the paperwork, as she wrapped and blustered and catered and giggled with him.
Back then, we used those manual card imprinters to capture credit card data — no electronic terminals and immediate approvals. (Yes. I’m THAT old.) Back then, people wrote checks, and banks were a little more loosey-goosey with their customers’ information. The guy wrote a check, and the rules were that if a customer wrote a check, we had to get a credit card imprint as back up. So I did that. I got an imprint of the credit card.
Trouble was that the credit card he gave me was a Macy’s card. And since we weren’t Macy’s, it would do no good if his check bounced, because we wouldn’t be able to charge it. Now, even though it had never been made expressly clear to me that it had to be a major credit card, I am smart enough to have had an inkling that a Macy’s card wouldn’t have worked. But my desire to not disturb this sale, to please my manager by not interrupting her blustery take-over of the transaction and her obvious giddiness at its completion over-ruled my instinct for what was right. I closed the sale, while she handed him his bracelet, smiled and oohhhed and ahhhhed over him, and eventually he was on his way.
Although I didn’t really care and (to my knowledge) was not in line to receive any sort of commission on this sale, it didn’t pass my notice when she called her boss — the regional director or something — and told her that she had just made a sale of over $700, that she had been the one to help him. I couldn’t help but notice that she was so happy, and she was taking all the credit, and she never once even mentioned my name to the manager.
A day or two later I was off, and was enjoying a day at the mall shopping. I walked past the kiosk where my manager was working and she saw me, and called me over.
She wasn’t happy.
She asked me about the transaction and told me that the credit card I had taken should have been a major credit card, not a Macy’s card. She then told me that she had called the customer’s bank who had informed her that at that point in time, there was not enough money in the account to cover the check he had written. This could change by the time the check got to the bank and cleared, but at that moment in time, there was a really good chance that we had been scammed. She then informed me that she was going to have to write me up and put this in my “Permanent Record.”
My PERMANENT RECORD!
I was devastated. I was embarrassed. And I was more than a little mad. She was so serious about this — I apparently was in BIG trouble — and it all happened on my day off!
I could sense the weight of the conversation she must have had with corporate. I could sense her discomfort as she had to decide whether to take responsibility for the mistake herself, or confess that yes, indeed, there had been someone else who had (mis)handled the sale. When it was good, she wanted the credit. Did she want the responsibility when it was bad? I guess not. I’m not sure what went into her permanent record.
But my Permanent Record was tarnished for life! I immediately imagined this evil manila envelope that would hover over my head for the rest of my life like a dialogue bubble in a comic strip. Or maybe a big, red velvet PR would be sewn onto every garment I owned. A knot of anxiety balled up in my stomach as I imagined the stigma of a damaged permanent record. Would I ever be able to get a real job? Go to school? Get married? What happens when your permanent record is marred by such a blot?
I went home, teary-eyed and emotional, where I spilled my story of shame to my family. God is merciful in many ways, and one of the ways He showed me mercy that day is by blessing me with the quintessential rebel for a brother. My big, burly, biker-dude of a brother looked at me after I confessed, my eyes brimming with tears, and says with complete irreverence, “Ker, what permanent record? There’s no permanent record. Who cares about a permanent record in a jewelry store?”
I was flabbergasted by this new perspective.
I was free, free I tell you! The bondage of the Permanent Record was broken, and my release was immediate and thorough. And suddenly the absurdity of it all was so clear — how I had allowed myself to be enslaved by an imaginary manila folder and another woman’s greed and desire for recognition.
Perhaps that day was the birth of the rebel in me, thanks to my brother, but when I walked back into the store for my next shift, she told me with much relief that the man’s check had cleared and all was well. Not so much my Permanent Record, of course, but the big P-R no longer held its power over me. I no longer trembled in fear for my future. I knew the truth, and the truth had set me free.
Romans Chapters 7-8