Observations No. 3

I am a member of the MMC-D – hospital – Auxiliary, and part of my duties is to work a four hour shift in the hospital Gift Shop once a month. The job is not hectic; we had $27.20 in cash sales today. Perhaps the most challenging part of the job is working the cash (computer) register. For some, it is a breeze; for others because it is encountered only monthly, it causes some mild anxiety.
The day begins with a set amount of money in the register and at the end of the shift when the money for the cash sales is removed, there should be left the amount initially given to make change. That simple operation can be made complex because there are employee charges that can be rung up – as charges. If the wrong key (cash) is hit, watch out for the balance to be way off. I heard of one shift that was $5,000 short.
Checking out at the end of the shift presents an anxious moment. Will it balance? Most volunteers simply tally the register and remove the amount that was supposedly rung up and what is left should be the starting amount. Sounds simple and it is depending on the persons collecting and counting the money.
Most people, I gather, are not good at counting coins as evidenced by the fact that too many times the coins do not come out for the correct amount. So back to square one. But today when my replacement came in, it was a joy to see how quickly, expertly, assuredly and accurately she performed in tallying the money. For some, like me, it might take minutes to finally get the amount right but for her, it was over in a flash and correct! Apparently she has had lots of experience. I envy her skill. It was like watching a professional perform.
I don’t particularly like catfish stew but after a 10 minute recipe tutorial today, I might want to give it a try. The would-be preparer is also the provider of the main ingredient that, if you want the best, comes from local waters three mile either way up or down from Harllee’s Bridge on the Little Pee Dee River. He has fished these waters for years and evidently has learned many of the fisherman’s secret spots. He favors local fish but has tried those imported from fish farms down south and has even fished in a local ‘farm’ where one purchases a license to fish for a year and afterwards pays $1 per pound for any fish caught. He has prepared literally hundreds of pounds of the local delicacy mostly to give to many of his friends. Now he speaks of it in the past tense.
Beauty is defined by the observer. What one might see in that context might be miles apart from another’s viewpoint. An undertaker’s idea of beauty might not be the same as the mother of a newly born baby who smiles at her for the first time. Most people when asked the question might give as an answer a sunset, a bed of flowers or all A’s on a report card. The idea changes too. For the next few weeks I will have available to me a scene that I think fits into this category. It’s a farm just outside my window. The farm owner/operator evidently takes great care and delight in preparing his fields to the highest standards (his) including going the second mile to make sure each operation is done to perfection and that includes the ditch banks. His fields look like they are manicured; there are no out-of-place, extraneous weeds or growths of any kinds. The farm scenes are so perfect that they look like they might have been drawn by an
artist. The rows are as coherent as the parts of a symphony and are like perfectly aligned threads in a beautiful tapestry. Obviously some of these preparations required to create such scenes are not functionally necessary except to one who takes pride in what he does as a steward of the land. Come see for yourself, just beyond the Hamer Post office off US301 and Elkins Road. (2/26/2011)
—Bill Lee, PO Box 128, Hamer, SC 29547

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