I punched in late at Stupid Pepsi this morning. The funny thing is, by the time I did punch in, I had been sitting at my desk for 3 minutes. Now, instead of using a timeclock, we have to punch in at our computers—our computers that are not turned on when we come in. For whatever reason, today, I sat down, pushed the on button, and waited. It didn’t turn on. I watched the clock on my phone flip to 8am, then 8:01. I pushed the button again, and then the computer turned on.

The screen to punch in popped up (eventually) asking for my username and password, which I did not know. I stood up in my cubicle and frantically craned my neck around for someone who might know the answer to my question. Finally I directed my query toward Marcus, who I really can’t stand, but I figured at least he’d know. I asked what my password would be set as, and he craned his head around to make sure I was actually talking to him before giving me the information I wanted. My punch in time was recorded at 8:02. Two minutes late is late. Period. Even if shitty software made it happen.

I immediately IMed my supervisor to tell her that it took 3 minutes to get punched in and wasn’t that a little unreasonable, then I pulled out my pocket mirror and began my morning ritual of fishing sleepy junk out of my eye.

She came scampering over to help me right when I was doing some major work cleaning out my right eye and said “It’s the first 2 letters of your last name and your employee ID number.” I couldn’t see her because I had my glasses off, but she sounded funny and also self-important even though she was answering a question I hadn’t asked. I just blinked at her, glanced at my fully operational computer and grabbed my glasses. The reason she sounded funny was because there were thin plastic bands stuck to her teeth. I just stared, wondering if they were some new braces like Tom Cruise had, or a retainer, or what. My experience with orthodontics is very limited and a long time ago, so I’m not sure what a lot of these things that people have in their mouths are. I speculated for entirely too long before I realized that she was waiting for some kind of gratitude.

“I figured it out.” I told her, “but my computer wouldn’t turn on, and then I didn’t know what you just told me, so by the time I did punch in I was 2 minutes late even though I got there on time.”

She looked puzzled, “But you have to get here early.”

“I was early.”

“You have to allow time to punch in.”

I could barely concentrate on the completely insane words she was saying because her voice sounded garbled and restrained like her mouth just didn’t want to let the words out. She sounded like a more gravelly version of Stan’s sister Shelly from South Park. After putting on my glasses, I realized that she had gotten clear braces and was also wearing some kind of new-fashioned retainer which made her impossible to understand.

We work in a call center.

“I got here early, but couldn’t punch in until I was late, does that seriously count?” I was starting to get really pissed off. In what kind of world do you have to get to work early because you have to allow for 3 minutes of punching in time?

“I think it’ll be okay.” she told me and flounced off to impart her limited and wet-sounding wisdom to some other poor sucker who had probably been struggling to punch in for 10 minutes.

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