I always find it amazing how a simple throw away comment can trigger a memory that’s so vivid it could have happened yesterday. I had one of those moments not so long ago. I was instantly thrown back to 1997 and the stockroom in a well known department store in Dublin city centre. Many happy memories flooded back making me smile. I suddenly recalled telling my boss to hang on a second that I couldn’t hear him until I put my glasses on one morning as I took my seat behind my desk.
Before I knew it I was chuckling away as I recalled the day I mislaid every single invoice belonging to a colleague. It was Saturday, midmorning and I had all my packing slips and invoices checked, signed off and matched. I had every scrap of paper cleared from my desk and to relieve my boredom I decided that I would clear my colleagues’ desk so she would return from her two weeks holidays to a clear and tidy desk. Full of good intentions I set to work. I diligently sorted through the paper on the desk in front of me, working away systematically until I had allocated each packing slip and invoice to its correct department.
Next I set about matching each packing slip to its invoice. When matched the paper work was filed under the relevant department number. Simple. What could go wrong? I worked away methodically and as I finished each file I placed them across the top of the waste paper bin to my left. As half five approached I was delighted to be just finished. All I needed to do was replace the bundle of files to my left in the filing cabinet behind me and I was free the until Monday morning.
I left work that evening with a great sense of achievement and returned on Monday morning dying to hear how my colleagues’ holidady had been. I was greeted by a row of blank faces when I entered the office area of the stockroom on that bright Monday morning. No good mornings or how was your weekend? “What did you do with my files?” was the first thing I heard. My heart sank to my shoes! In my haste to make the train after work I had rushed from the office leaving my pile of perfect files lying across the bin. Surely the cleaning ladies could not have dumped ten to fifteen full files in with the rubbish? Surely not?
Indeed they could and did! I will never forget the inquisition that followed or the kindness of the store men who went out to the dump and trawled through skip after skip until they found the missing files.
I started working in the coffee shop in said department store at the age of 16. I was fascinated at the division that existed between full and part time staff, those who worked on the shop floor and those who worked in the coffee shop. There was also a differing degree of division between those who worked in the canteen and those who cleaned. Raised by Mammy Byrne to treat everyone with the same respect, I always tried to have a hello and word for everyone. Maybe it was because of this that those lovely men went out of their way to get those files back. I haven’t thought about that incident in years, yet I can still feel the relief I felt as I seen the guys walk in with the files raised above their heads. Human generosity is truly amazing.