So the Boss approached me at work last night and said, “MOV, I need to hire an extra person for a couple days to do gift-wrapping for Mother’s Day. They would get a 40% discount during that time frame. Do you know anyone who might be interested?” I immediately thought of four or five moms that I know that might like to do it. But then I asked the Boss which days exactly she needed filled and it turned out that I, myself, was available.
“Oh, Boss, you don’t have to hire a new person, because I could do it!” I offered excitedly.
She looked me in the eye with a serious expression, and then a smile crept slowly across her face. Finally, she burst out laughing like that was the funniest joke she’d ever heard.
“Wrap!” (ha ha ha ha) “I said gift-wrap!” (ha ha ha ha) “You know, with wrapping paper!” she managed to blurt out between bouts of more laughter.
I was laughing too, just in case I might be about to be fired. “I know! I know what wrapping is!”
She stopped laughing. “Oh, MOV, you are a very good salesperson, you could sell an espresso machine to someone who doesn’t even like coffee … but wrap? That is, uh, that is one of your areas of, uh, potential opportunity for improvement.” This last part sounded suspiciously like that course all the regional managers were just required to take last month: “Encouraging The Best From Your Worst Employees.”
“What are you talking about?” I queried, “I am a fabulous gift-wrapper! You said yourself that you used some of my wrapped boxes as samples for the Christmas seasonal new hires!”
“Samples of what NOT to do!” The gloves were off.
I had to admit that maybe she was right. Oh, sure, I could use the heat-gun to shrink wrap a gift basket full of soap or scones, and I could certainly put some tissue paper on the top of a small shopping bag to make it look like a “gift” bag, and I even knew how to tie a pretty decent bow; but wrap?
“This new person,” said the Boss, maneuvering the subject back where she wanted it, “they can’t do crushed corners.”
“Crushed corners?” I asked, confused.
“Crushed. Corners. Like yours.” She was not backing down. She was the Boss, and she was right.
I didn’t honestly know that she had ever inspected my corners to see if they were crushed or not. What was she, a military sergeant? The Gift Wrap Nazi, like the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld?
“Boss, about my corners …” my college degree was drifting away before my eyes. Bye, bye, Art History! Seeya, Advanced Calculus! Won’t be needing you, French 301! All I needed to be successful in my chosen career at the high-end kitchen store were flat corners.
“So you finally acknowledge that your corners, uh, leave something to be desired?” The Boss nodded at me, as if her nodding would make me subliminally agree to her somewhat accurate assessment of my sad wrapping skills.
“Well, how do you get yours so perfect?” I challenged. “Every time I try, the wrapping paper rips. And I know it is good quality wrapping paper, not flimsy. But then I have to start over. I swear, I pull the paper very tight, then smooth it, but I just can’t seem to win.”
“Is that the issue?” she asked, “Oh, it is all making sense to me now! All those times you offered customers the plain green box with the plain green ribbon and no actual wrapping paper, I thought you were being environmentally aware, but really, you were just avoiding crushed corners!”
“Ripped corners, in my case,” I corrected, digging my own grave.
“So, like I was saying, if you send one of your friends in here, she’s going to have to audition.” The Boss’s eyes glazed over, and I could tell she was envisioning one of my friends wrapping a gift while she held a stop-watch and yelled, “GO!”
“Audition?!? Are you crazy?” (it was dawning on me that calling the Boss crazy might not have been a smart thing) “No one is going to audition to be a 3-day gift wrapper!”
Right then, a young woman wearing a beautifully wrapped scarf around her neck walked up to the counter with a cookbook she wanted to buy.
“Excuse me, do you gift wrap?” she asked sweetly.
“No!” The Boss and I said in unison. “But we can give you free wrapping paper.”