“I Found What I Needed!”
To this day, the messiest office I ever saw was a credit approval office. It was my first job out of college.
Ten rows of 7 ½ foot tall open shelves—the kind they still have in dentist’s offices, with color-tagged file folders—each ran about 24 feet long. And did I mention there were 10 rows of them?
Every day and evening, women worked the phones taking credit applications from malls. They opened a new file to run the credit check and called back the jewelry store to approve or decline the credit.
And then they walked back to the shelves and wandered aimlessly, not having any idea where to put the new file they just opened. So in disgust they piled them at the end of each row.
My supervisor called me over on my third day and said quietly, “We need you to fix the filing system.” When I realized that this was the job I was hired to do, I almost cried.
Every morning driving to work, I did cry and prayed for wisdom. Every day I spent 8 hours climbing up and down the ladder, focusing on one section at a time.
Everybody in the office tiptoed around me … I wondered how many file clerks they had gone through before me…they quietly cooperated with my every request.
“I need more vertical files…I need a taller step-stool…please leave the new files here until I can get to them…”
Eventually, the women acquired the nerve to talk to me a little when they came over. “Where are these?” they whispered.
I asked, “What’s the number?….OK. Those should be in row 2…check the 4th shelf.” And as she walked away, I crossed my fingers.
As I climbed back up my ladder, I’d watch her walk back to her desk with confidence, holding the file in her hand.
One day—after about 5 months of steady work—Janet came by but didn’t ask me for any direction. She happened to look in the aisle I was working in. I watched her out of the corner of my eye.
After about 90 seconds of thumbing along the folders, she pulled one out. “I can’t believe I actually found what I needed!” she looked at me and smiled. I smiled too as she walked back to her desk announcing, “I found what I needed!”
I had rushed to school early on Monday and wrangled with my backpack, just outside the faculty lounge. I twisted out a hefty paper stack and then knocked on the door.
Mrs. Sweeney answered. “Kid! It’s pretty early!” and then she noticed that I was holding out a stack of papers.
“What are these?”
“The Biology chapter tests from Friday. All graded,” I answered.
“Kid! Don’t you ever just sit down?” She didn’t reach for them.
“Well…I thought you needed them back on Monday.”
“Geez…they could’ve waited…don’t rush next time. But thanks. It’s great to have them,” she said as she took them off my hands.