Tuesday, December 27, 2005

My Hanukkah story

Back in the last century, one of my jobs was with a large private label credit card company. If a store wanted a credit card, we'd handle everything - printing cards, billing, customer service, etc. Lot's of small mall stores, but plenty of huge multi-state corporations.

The group I was in would proof sample billing runs before the billings were mailed. Each state might have their own interest rates and promotional plans, and every single one would have to be verified that it was calculating correctly. We'd do this four days out, then compare another sample the day of mailing. If anything was calculating or printing wrong, the entire printing of statements would be shut down until fixed.

It wasn't just the math we'd proof, but also promotional messages. These could be related to specific locations; such as, in December, one store would include Happy Hanukkah messages, but only for specific ZIP codes. On the first proof, all was well, Hanukkah was appearing for the appropriate ZIP codes. Then a problem occurs during the final proof.

We worked a small crew for weekends and over the cube walls I hear someone shout "What's this CHA-NOO-KA?" Anybody else seeing this?"

The rest of us head over, because this sounds interesting. Oh, she meant "Chanukah." And it's hitting the same parameters for Hanukkah, so no problem. Someone changed the programming so the statements would get either Chanukah or Hanukkah, but they're going to the correct addresses, so we're cool.

Except, we're not. Everyone else is freaking out.
them: We have to stop this, I've never seen CHA-NOO-KA before. This is wrong.
me: Look, it isn't CHA-NOO-KA, it's pronounced the same way as Hanukkah. It's the same thing, just spelled different.
them: This is bad. We better call [boss].
me: Look, here's the dictionary. See? They're the same.
them: No, I gotta call [boss].
me: Ok, but he's gonna laugh.

Our boss was Jewish. Everyone knew this. Because of his community work, he was selected to be an Olympic torch bearer when the flame was winding through Atlanta for the 1996 Olympics. Nice guy.
them: Hello, [boss]? Yeah, we got a problem with the statements. Some of them are printing Hanukkah and some of them are printing CHA-NOO-Ka, with a CH?

So, that is why, if you ever hear me say CHA-NOO-KA, that's the story.

Maybe tomorrow I'll write my Kwanzaa story and the idiocy that is Johnny Cochran's daughter.


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