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Friday, June 24, 2016

Fireworks 2016 Part 2 - Attack of the Killer Cash Registers

    Drama is one of the main reasons I have trouble with the week-before-fireworks. We get our share of it and then some at the Regnier household, and more often than not it involves a set of three very innocent-looking cash registers. But honestly, they should have a warning label attached to the “on” switch. ‘Beware! This register can cause nightmares and/or sleepless nights for the feint-of-heart or the technologically-illiterate.’
    Let’s go back to Fireworks 2014 and relive nightmare #1. Don’t worry I’ve been through psychological repression training and I think I’m strong enough now to handle it. In 2014 the registers were new. Nice, except that we didn’t know how to run them with the scanners we purchased and the user’s manual didn’t include any instructions – either that or some evil-minded box-packer tore out that page.
    What to do? Finally, we called the company from which they came. I was tempted to introduce myself as the Technology Director for Regnier Fireworks, which is truly a title I have had officially bestowed upon me by our staff. But actually, it just shows how desperate we are. So, I just said my name was Cindy, described the problem, and a very nice man named Brad with a New York accent gave me a simple, one-sentence direction on how to make the scanners work. Problem solved.
   I wrote down his instructions in my spiral notebook. I put it on my computer in a file all of its own called “Cash Register instructions.” I emailed it to my husband. We would be good-to-go for next year. Bring on the 4th!
    So now fast forward a year and it’s time to gear up for  fireworks 2015. I’m confident I’ve got this register thing conquered, and not worried about it when we don’t actually get the cash registers out of their box until the afternoon of June 30. Picture this – I am at work for what is arguably considered the busiest day of the year at the school district office. Chelsea, one of our staff who has been with us from the beginning, and whom I love like a daughter calls me at work. “Um, how do we make the cash registers scan things?”
    I chuckle to myself. I have so got this one. “Turn on my computer, find the file for cash registers and follow the instructions. It’s just a simple sentence and you’ll be on your way.”
    My phone rings again a few minutes later. “It doesn’t work.” “OK, I’ll come home and see what’s going on.” I knew I could do it based on the wonderful instructions Brad had given me last year.
By 4:30 that afternoon I was about in tears, Chelsea along with me. I never made it back to work that day. Not only did our scanners not work, but the registers wouldn’t take manual entries either. Surely I had written down more than one sentence of instructions? “Well, no.” I could call Brad but it’s 5:30 New York time. I try it. Brad is out, but will be returning about 6:00. He might not have time to call me, but the man I talked to was kind enough to say he would give him my number. We waited. We waited some more. We cried some more. Stress levels were off the charts. The phone did not ring. Finally, Chelsea gets brave enough to call again. Thank goodness for Chelsea. This time she gets transferred to Brad and hands me the phone.
    I’ll spare you the gory details of this, but Brad, now my best-bud, who is working very late just because I sound desperate, calmly tells me that over the year the registers were in storage the batteries went dead and all the programming is erased. “All you have to do is run your SD card again.” Simple right? Except that we didn’t have an SD card. We didn’t even know the registers had the capability to read one. Worthless user’s manual. Brad goes through a set of instructions with me (also not in the manual) to restore basic programming to the machine. It took me two pages to write down everything we did, plugging and unplugging, pushing buttons and pushing some more. At last the machine was up and running. I profusely thank Brad and, in the tradition of Regnier Fireworks, wish him a Fun and Safe 4th
    Chelsea and Leslie proceed to re-enter all (ALL) the bar codes and pricing for every product in our stand. While they take on this enormous task, Bernie races to Salina and buys SD cards. When the first machine is programmed later that evening, all we have to do is copy it to the card and then run the card in the other two registers. Two seconds and we’re running again, just in time to catch a few hours sleep before the stand opens in the morning.
    So now, 2016 Fireworks is approaching. I am armed and dangerous with my pages of instructions from Brad, the SD cards which we have had in safekeeping for a year, and my abundance of tech knowledge. We even have a jump on things, actually getting the registers out a few weeks early just to make sure they’re working right.
    But they’re not. Not only are they not working right. They’re not working at all. No lights, numbers, sounds. Nothing. All my wonderful instructions don’t tell me how to fix dead. Makes me kind of wish I was too.  Stress becomes a major factor for me while I wait for Friday for a chance to call Brad during business hours. (Sometimes it’s easy to forget I have a real job that actually earns me a paycheck when I get into my Freebie-Tech-Director-of-Regnier-Fireworks mode.)
     If Brad remembers this woman from Kansas who called him last year, and recognizes the desperation in my voice, he keeps his giggles to himself. Whatever the case, I have now dubbed him my BFF. This, because he told me what I did wrong – “You can’t plug in the scanners while the cash register is connected to power. It makes them go dead,” Yeah – no kidding. (NOT in the user manual!). And not only that, but he told me how to fix them! Yay, Strike up the Hallelujah Chorus. The registers are alive again, resurrected from the grave, and SCANNING!!!! 
    So what do my cash registers have in store for me for 2017? To be determined. But go ahead, registers. Hit me with your best shot. Brad is on my side. And did I mention I prayed a lot too? Yes, I know Who really got me through this. Looking forward to sleeping better tonight!