Friday, April 28, 2006

I Could Be Hines

Most of the Third Wave Cognoscenti (gosh, I can't help but laugh when using that!) know about Hines Public Market Coffee and their old shop in Seattle's Eastlake neighborhood. It was a cool little shop who's most notable feature was the lack of a cash register. Just a plain old cigar box for the bills and some ceramic cups for the change. Very bohemian.

Tuesday night, I'm sitting in my office smoking a big cigar and doing miscellaneous administrative work (you know, the kind of admin work that corporate CEOs do: surfing the 'Net and IM-ing hot chicks), when the power goes out for a couple seconds. No big deal, the UPS units kicked in and both the computers and network kept on running.

The next morning I come in and find that the power surge has fried the memory of our most excellent Costco purchased, Royal 9155c electronic cash register. Everything has been wiped out by this surge, including the 800+ PLUs programmed into the thing. Crap.

So, I spent two days completely reprogramming the register. It sucked. But it also allowed us to run without a cash register for two days. Two days that I found strangely invigorating, refreshing and free. Free to interact with the customer in a more casual setting without the pressure of accurately inputting the drink into the register so that we'll have historical data to compare to the past and forecast for the future.

That freedom awakened in me a desire to toss the register in the dumpster and bust out the cigar box. Suddenly, numbers and exact change weren't as important as before. I had more counterspace to lay things out. It was brilliance defined.

That's all over today since the register is programmed and ready to go. Ready to record the daily sales at Jay's Shave Ice to tell us our past, forecast our future and let us know exactly how close to bankruptcy we really are. Even as we move back to reality, my brief flirt with a register-less existence was fun - like a short, torrid affair.

I saw for one brief moment that even I, with my obsessive compulsive obsession to quantify and systematize everything, could be like Hines.

And isn't that refreshing!


Billy Wilson said...

I'm really enjoying your blog Jay... keep it comin'

alistair said...

my POS broke a couple years ago, i never ended up reprogramming it. there is a huge sense of simplicity and freedom. it would be nice to kow how much of X product we're sellign each day and at what time - but its not worth putting an upgly POS on my counter. so the Clover is going there instead.