The Cashbox

It might have been Peter Drucker who mentioned that most people leave their jobs due to problems that crop up and persist from their first six weeks on the job. In other words, your fate is sealed early on.
I think it’s worse than that; the first day or week can reveal all the sticks and stones in your path. Some you can detour around, others climb over, but there can be one thing you stub your toe on daily that will eventually drive you to spruce up the resume and look at the job listings.

After working for many years as an applied anthropologist, I found myself a quiet posting as an executive director at a tourist information organization. We ran a kiosk that provided maps, brochures, and guided tours. It was a volunteer-fueled outfit, and a large part of my job was caring for and feeding around fifty volunteers.

The organization provided many services for free and was the first stop for many visitors. The problem was that not all products or services were free. Volunteers took in cash for brochures and fees for tours. In those days, nothing was computerized, and all recording of sales was on paper forms. Money was placed into the cashbox, and I collected the cashbox and the paper tally form every Monday.

The form, the cashbox, and the behavior of the volunteers were the issue that could not be surmounted. Some volunteers are very accurate, some less so, and some did not even try for accuracy. Voluntary contributions to the organization were freely mixed with sales receipts. Sales were not accurately recorded or recorded incorrectly. Settling the sales account and reconciling it with the sales receipt that first Monday was hell. therre was about three hundred dollars too much. Not knowing what to do, I put the excess aside. The following Monday, I was glad I did because the numbers were negative by about two hundred and ninety dollars.

My predecessor had not briefed me on this issue, so I polled the Board of Directors. This was not the wisest course of action. Some of the volunteers were friends or relatives. Did I doubt their honesty?

I lasted one year before accepting a job back in the government, where accounting practices were tight, and I never handled even a loose dime. The weekly juggling of money got to me.
But the amazing thing was that the organization closed out its fiscal year not long after I left. And there was a rather handsome surplus in the budget.

I fielded a few congratulatory calls and felt relieved that someone else would be figuring out the cashbox on Mondays.

Of Course!

Have I ever performed? My dear, a cat’s life is always performance. Being cute to garner attention while a kitten and elegant for admiration when mature.
Now, excuse me. I am tired from my exertions. Entertaining humans does take so much energy.
It is time for my midday nap. TTFN ( ta ta for now).


Every year brings its variety of upsets—some result in leaps forward, others in an impasse, and others in disaster. But let’s be clear, the difference between grace and disaster can balance on a fine point.

This year I needed a hip replacement. The one I’d used since birth was failing. I was a good candidate for surgery; healthy and active, with no diabetes, no hypertension, and no weight issues. Having spent about seven years in the operating room, I thoroughly discussed my procedure with the surgeon.

I entered the operating room, commenting on the back table set up with the nurses and technicians. I thought I was as prepared as possible. And I guess I was, up to that point.

I hadn’t counted on post-operative insomnia that hit me on the second night and almost every night for the next two weeks. I was a common disturbance to the dog and cat as they attempted to stalk the house peacefully. So there I was, stumping around the house at four AM.

It was summer, and I adopted a routine of getting several hours of sleep on the back porch starting at about five AM. Not even the cacophony of the birds disturbed this rest once it began. But I was up by eight, which was the end of sleep.

I was prepared for the hip replacement, but not for the incidental sleep disturbance that followed, and certainly not for the worry that I could be stuck in my new pattern of sleep disruption.

Luckily, my sleep returned to normal, and my hip healed, but I now place new value on what I had once taken for granted.

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