Project Victory

From the moment I arrived on the West Coast I had a specific goal – to get a job.  I had no restrictions on where or when I could work; I was willing to do anything so I applied to everything.  I scored interviews with a Shell station, a video rental place and a Radio Shack.  I was likely too preppy for the teenage girl who interviewed me at the gas station.  The Video rental place actually hired me then called me back later to rescind the offer.  At Radio Shack I got as far as the ethics test where I didn’t know the correct answer to such context free gems as “What percentage of people smoke marijuana”.   However I did land a part time gig working for an inventory counting service.

At the inventory company I wanted to get on the full-time crew and to do that I had to improve my count per hour – a measured goal.  I knew I couldn’t compete against those people who had superior manual dexterity however by applying the Pareto Principle, which is the law of the vital few, I could accomplish the same results a different way.  What mattered most was the value of the actual inventory not the specific quantity thus if you were careful not to make any mistakes on the twenty percent of the stock that had the most value you could get by with just guessing at the other eighty percent.    It didn’t take me long to become a highly proficient estimator and a valuable part of the team.

I transferred from a satellite office to the regional headquarters and within a year I was running small inventories on my own.  It appeared that a promotion from an hourly worker to a salaried manager was an attainable goal.  At the time I applied all the other managers were former clerks and most were the same age as me.  The first phase was an IQ test where I tied the highest score ever recorded in the company.  However I was done in by the personality test when my result was a circle instead of the preferred triangle.  It was all part of Project Victory, a company-wide program geared toward improving service levels and profitability.  A new breed of managers with heavy sales backgrounds were brought in while the existing clerk-turned-managers were forced out and in some cases fired.

I moved on to a different goal, something realistic and entirely within my control, saving up to buy a car.  I had already started looking for other jobs but I found that my choices were severely limited since they had to have access to public transit.  I also thought a vehicle would help on the relationship front since the one and only date I had landed since moving out west ended prematurely when she discovered that I didn’t have a set of wheels.  Things improved remarkably when I got the opportunity to join a special crew that toured Canada-wide doing inventories for Wal-mart.  I lived off my paltry per diem allowance for several months and managed to save over five thousand dollars.  The car I eventually purchased was from my father and I paid significantly less that than what I had saved for it.  A new girlfriend was in the mix too, allegedly secured before the car, and all was right with the world.

I really enjoyed my time working for the inventory company but looking back I didn’t have timed goals and stayed much too long.  The company was a career dead end, even for the people who worked as managers.  A typical case was a friend of mine who went from there to managing a Subway restaurant (and briefly became my eighteenth employer when I helped him out one Christmas).  On the bright side I would never have met my wife if I hadn’t stuck around and the two years we worked together were a lot of fun.  The final straw came when another promotion, one that would have relocated us to the United States fell through when the company was unable to secure us work visas.   Soon afterward she was promoted into the office and I made myself a new, and what I hoped to be a SMART goal. I decided to go back to school again.


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