Hibbert Meets Her Nemesis
Tom sighed as he watched Mrs. Hibbert pull into the parking
father thought he was crazy, but was willing to let him go
with it until he
lost a respectable amount of money. His reaction when Tom
told him what hed
done had been extreme.
flibbertigibbet? hed gasped. You HIRED her?
about the loss of revenue. His father listened patiently.
lose more in breakage and lost time than youll gain
back in sales,
he predicted dourly. That woman is a menace.
think shes funny, Tom had replied. And I
bet shell always be on time
and will always turn up. And here she was, five minutes
late and had a
police car following her. Mentally, he gave his father props
for being right
fifteen minutes for Mrs. Hibbert to drag the bewildered but
bewitched policeman through the store loading up a basket
for him. She then
introduced him to Tom, who had the pleasure of ringing up
one of the larger
sales so far that week. As the gentleman in uniform left,
he took back the
points given to his father on his mental tally sheet and added
them to his
own, then turned to his new employee in a beneficent mood.
it looks like youve already started work today!
no, not really. The poor thing, it was just so sad when he
her forehead significantly. Obvious trace metal deficiencies.
What did he pull you over for?
in two lanes at 15 miles an hour. But of course, as I told
was just changing lanes. Now if hed said failure to
use a turn signal, he
would have been perfectly right. But its lucky he didnt
because now hell
have a chance to get some decent supplements into his system,
should make his entire outlook change. If only hell
follow my advice and
settle down with some nice girl wholl take good care
of him, hell do just
nice, Tom agreed pacifically, not even wanting to hint
for her to
elaborate on anything shed just said. You need
to come back to the office
to fill out some paperwork.
really needed was the personal information form and a W4 form,
found the process took longer than expected. It was the emergency
notification contact that she couldnt make up her mind
just dont know who to put there. I mean, I dont
want Carl bothered if I
stub my toe or something. It would just make him so mad to
get a call like
that at work, and on the weekend it would just make him crazy.
He likes to
relax on the weekend and even though hed never admit
it he would get all
upset and it would ruin everything. So I cant put in
Carl, but who else
should I put in there?
about Sarah? Tom suggested.
thats a lovely idea! She wouldnt mind. Now where
did I put my address
book? I cant remember her phone number to save my life.
She rooted in her
purse. Now when Im working are you sure its
alright for me to leave this
back here in your office? I dont know, it doesnt
seem to be in here. I
must have it somewhere. Excuse me, can I just
She upended her purse onto
his desktop, which usually harbored nothing more interesting
than a few
invoices and a calculator.
out was the crochet hook that she had retrieved from the glove
compartment. She picked it up and stuck it in the bun at the
back of her
head. I mustnt forget Ive got that,
she said to herself. Her wallet
landed with a dense thud, followed by a cascade of hairpins,
rubber bands, a lighter, sealing wax, hand lotion, a comb,
assorted makeup cases, two broken mirrors (half of a regular
mirror and half
of a magnifying mirror) with hardened chewing gum stuck to
the sharp points,
wadded tissues, two skeins of embroidery floss and a ball
of tatting thread,
a tatting shuttle, some silk ribbon samples, a Matchbox car
with a lot of
the paint chipped off, scissors, a large pocket knife with
open, a penlight, 15 or so assorted ballpoints and pencils,
none of them in
working condition at that moment, a diary, and her address
it is! she pounced, and flipped to the Hs. Oh,
this isnt her
number. This is two apartments ago.
okay. You can update it later, Tom said, anxious to
get the clutter
removed from his desk and to get back out to the store before
school student working out there did too much damage.
but what if we forget and its somebody elses number
now? Id be
very upset to get an emergency call about somebody I didnt
Anybody would. And then whoever was trying to get hold of
Sarah would have
to call all over and I dont even think that shes
listed so theyd never be
able to reach her unless they had the operator put the call
through to her
but who knows if they would think of that really because a
lot of people
arent even aware that operators can do things like that
because they arent
old enough to remember when operators did everything, especially
to your conversations, but thats neither here nor there,
is it? Id better
put my home phone number in there after all. I guess Ill
just have to not
have any accidents.
father gained a point.
succeeded in wedging everything back into her purse and stood
Is there anything else you wanted to do today, or should
I just show up
tomorrow morning? she asked.
yes. I dont open the store in the morning, so I wanted
to show you
what youd be doing. That way you can go ahead and get
her to the stock room, which was packed floor to ceiling with
A clipboard against the wall held the bills of lading and
invoices for the
Youre going to be stocking the store. But before you
out in front, you have to put price tags on it. This is a
seemed quite simple, and the system he used for pricing seemed
simple enough too. Reading the invoices was a bit difficult,
but after a few
tries she learned to figure out the retail prices of most
you cant tell what the retail should be, just skip it
for now. You can
ask me when I get in tomorrow afternoon.
right, she agreed. So I price things, then I take
them out front and
put them with the others?
he agreed. Sometimes there wont be anything out
there because it
s a new product. In that case, look in the office to see if
we have a
display for the stuff. If we do, find someplace to set up
the display and
put it out wherever you can find space.
if theres no display? she asked.
one up somehow, he said rashly. We want people
to see the new
Making displays sounded much more fun than figuring out
invoices and putting price stickers on things. Oh, I
can do that! she
he said, just in case, come on out front and Ill
show you how to
use the cash register.
felt the first qualms of distress. But, right away?
Sally might need to go to the bathroom or something, and customers
will expect you to be able to check them out.
she moaned. I dont know.
on. Its easy, Mrs. H. Youll love it! he
him out to the front of the store. There she met Portia, the
afternoon girl. No customers were in the store at the moment,
so she was
sitting staring vacantly into space, chewing gum in that irritating
teenagers have of doing so.
dust, Tom said. Dont just sit there.
she sighed, dispirited, and moved off at the pace of a restless
name suits her, Virginia noted.
mind. Clearly, she was not going to be able to share
allusions with Tom. She stared at the cash register.
its easy. See these keys over on the left? Those are
the keys for
the kinds of things people can buy. Pink is for beauty products.
for produce. White is for dairy case. Orange is for supplements.
Red is for
cleaning supplies. Grey is everything else. They say so on
the keys, see?
Okay, she agreed, peering at the tiny lettering
on the keys, which was
too small to read at a distance and fuzzed up when viewed
closely. It was
time to get her bifocals adjusted again.
for each item, you look at the price tag. You hit the key
for the kind
of thing it is, then you punch in the price. Dont worry
about the decimal
place, the machine knows the last two digits are cents. The
price you enter
shows up here on the screen, see? He entered the pink
key and $1.49 for a
random pot of beeswax lip balm from a display on the counter.
nodded. So far, it seemed straightforward.
you press the enter key. The item gets printed on the tape
display clears for the next item. You do the same thing over
and over until
you have all the items in that the customer is buying. Right?
If you make a
mistake entering the price, you just hit this clear key over
here, and do it
again. But be careful you have to hit the clear key
before you press enter
or its too late. If you do that, then you have to press
this negative key,
the mistake price again, and then the enter key to back the
she said, knowing she was going to use both these methods
There were a lot of keys. Lots and lots of keys.
you have everything in, you press the big total key at the
the customer gives you payment. Itll be cash, a credit
card, or a
check. If its a check, you take it, push the check key,
and shove it into
this slot here, FACE DOWN. If its a credit card, you
enter the credit card
key, and swipe it through this slot. If its cash, you
hit the cash key and
enter the amount just like you did the prices. Then you hit
the big total
Ooooh, Virginia said. There seemed to be slots
everywhere. The payment
keys were all blue and were in a row on the left, she was
sure to get the
all blue, she said faintly.
but top key is check, middle key is credit, bottom key is
ll have it down in no time at all.
she agreed doubtfully.
if it is a check, the register will frank the check on the
pop open the cash drawer. You lift the tray and slip the check
okay? If its a credit card, just wait until the register
approved and prints the credit slip out here.
Tear it off, have the
customer sign it and shove it under the cash drawer with the
copy goes to the customer with the register receipt. If its
register will show the amount of change you should give. Put
money into the cash drawer first, then pull out the amount
of change the
was feeling faint. It all seemed so complicated. She was sure
couldnt do it. How could she possibly remember all those
keys and what they
were for? And with customers standing staring at her too,
it would be just
awful. She blushed just thinking about it. A customer, who
had come in while
Tom was explaining things to her, approached with a bottle
of water and bee
Tom said. Almost more quickly than she could follow, hed
the two items and was making change from a twenty dollar bill
fellow. It was so fast that she was sure shed missed
do the next one, Tom said, beginning to feel, from the
look on her
face, that this was not going well. In general, he really
that look of baffled doubt on the faces of people he was showing
register. It did not bode well for a friendly relationship
came in and the two of them waited impatiently while she wandered
around the store for ten minutes putting things in her basket.
you find everything? Tom asked her.
but the B-complex. I like the Natures Way brand because
it isnt in a
yeast base, and you seem to be out.
sure weve got some in the back, Tom said. A
shipment just came in
this morning. Would you like me to go check?
thatd be lovely, the woman said. The big
bottle, if you have it.
see, he said, and left. Virginia stared at the cash
foolishly for a few moments.
you like me to start ringing you up? Virginia asked.
She had steeled
herself to this eventuality, and would face it directly, with
a woman of substance.
the woman agreed.
item out of the basket was a bottle of vitamin C complex.
it was a supplement. She stared at the blurry keys below her,
to remember the color for supplements. Blue, she thought.
No that was for
payment. Orange? She pressed orange, and entered the price
on the tag, then
pressed enter. The cash register obligingly printed something
on the tape.
She proceeded to the next item, which was a carton of acidophilus
remembering that white was for dairy, which actually made
some sense, and
succeeded with it as well. Feeling she was getting the hang
of it, she
slowly rang up everything in the basket.
cant be right, the woman said.
Virginia looked up from the register keys, surprised to find
she wasnt alone with the machine in some alternate universe.
register. It says the total is $407,959. 67, the woman
Without the B-complex.
dear, Virginia said. She peered at the tape. It looked
like she had
forgotten to hit enter between two items. She said so. Now
what had Tom said
to do to back something out?
something about a negative key, but couldnt quite remember
the color for it, and couldnt read anything but the
numbers on the keypad.
It was so very annoying! At length, because there was a black
seemed to be assigned to nothing else that she could remember
that, then hesitantly pushed the numbers for the enormous
amount out and
then pushed the enter key and the total key.
register went crazy. It began to print out an enormous list
numbers. Tape came spewing out of its maw as if there
were no tomorrow. The
woman and Virginia stared at the machine together in surprise.
the woman said at length.
BAD WORD! Virginia said. Oh, oh, oh!!!
with a large bottle of B-complex, properly priced. He gazed
the spewing register in amazement.
on earth did you do that? he asked. Youve
got it closing out for the
dont know, exactly. I forgot to enter between two amounts
so it said she
owed us a lot of money and it wasnt right, so I was
trying to back the
wrong amount out and I tried to do like you said with the
but when I hit the black key everything seemed to not be negative
when I hit the total key all this just started. I dont
know what happened!
mean its closing out with a huge over-ring in it?
dont know! Virginia wailed, anguished.
long is this going to take? the woman asked.
ten minutes, Im afraid, Tom said. Im
Ill just look around a bit, she said.
me know if theres anything we can help you with.
Tom smiled at her
gratefully, then turned to the distraught Virginia. Its
okay. You shouldn
t have tried it for the first time without someone here with
you, he said.
Ill just have to do some hand adjustments to the
tape, and Ill have two
tapes for today is all. Its not that big a deal.
you sure? she asked. The cash register gave a final
frenzy and shot a
foot of tape directly at her, as if it were sticking its
tongue out at her.
sure, he said kindly. Maybe well just keep
you stocking shelves for
can do displays too, she said. I know I can do
he said. Dont worry, youll get the register
okay with some
you say so, Mrs. Hibbert agreed, far from sanguine.
register, its daily duties finished, said DAY CLOSED
in big letters prancing across the screen. They were green
letters, and they
seemed to be more than faintly mocking.
stuff: Please do not print, copy or distribute this without
permission from the author. All rights reserved. Copyright
© 2001 Alexandra R.
Nyfors. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is strictly