My boss from the high-end kitchen store called me at home yesterday. “We need to talk,” she said, which we all know is shorthand for “I need to talk and you need to listen.”
What could she possibly be calling about, I wondered. Surely she had moved past the Unfortunate Incident of me eating an entire tray of chocolate covered almonds we were sampling at Christmas time (and in my defense, the tray had been on the counter in the back kitchen, how was I supposed to know it wasn’t intended for the employees?). And I hope she’d gotten over the time a few weeks ago when the actor Ben Affleck had sauntered into our store and I’d followed him around for half an hour like a puppy dog (come on, we’re talking Ben Affleck! I can’t be blamed for that).
“MOV,” she began in her firm, no-nonsense voice, “corporate sent me an email about you.”
My heart was racing. Was this good news? Would I be named Top Seller of the Year or maybe Most Helpful Associate in the Eastern Division?
“They said you have bought everything in the store. There is nothing left to buy, and furthermore, they believe that without the motivation of beautiful things you can buy at a huge discount, you just won’t be a very focused employee.”
“Wha— wha— what are you saying?!” I stuttered in disbelief. “I certainly have not bought everything, I think that might be a slight exaggeration, don’t you? I mean, I never bought the deep fryer or the panini press.“
“Our records indicate you have. Be honest, MOV, you bought the espresso machine, the blender, the toaster, the coffee maker, the All-clad pans, the Wusthof knives, the linens, the lead-crystal wine glasses, the French china, all that bakeware….”
“But, but..... so? That doesn’t mean anything! There are still plenty of things for me to buy!”
She paused. “Like what?”
“Uh,” I tried to rally, “uh, there are a couple cookbooks I haven’t bought yet? I could maybe, you know, buy a cake stand?”
“Ha! A cake stand! I have copies of all your receipts from the past three years right here in my hands and you bought a cake stand the very first week you worked here!”
She wasn’t making this easy.
“Boss, I don’t need to buy any more things. You’re right about that. But a paycheck, the money itself, could be a powerful motivator for me. I promise I will still do a good job, even though I have everything already. Please give me another chance.”
I heard her give a weary sigh. “MOV, when I spoke to corporate, they were pretty clear about their decision. Most of our employees don’t want to be paid in cash. They want pans.”
“Well, Boss, surely this has happened before? There must be some other employee that has gone through this same sort of thing, what did you do about this in the past?”
“MOV, I don’t know what to tell you. Your situation is rare. The last time this occurred, it was with an employee that had been with the company for fifteen years. You’ve only been here three and a half.”
Once again, I was the overachiever.
("Mom's Other Vocation")