Sunday, April 15, 2012

Travelogue: Australia – That’s Why I Am A Business Analyst

To paraphrase the late, great, H. L. Mencken:
"There is, to every problem, always an easy solution – neat, plausible, and wrong."
My job as a Business Analyst is to help my clients avoid falling into the trap of jumping to the wrong, though obvious, solution.

Often, I get a chance to exercise my vocation in my private life… As was the case this morning, as I was headed into the local supermarket down at the Dickson Shops.

At first I had a hard time telling what I was looking at. She was slumped over the row of cards tucked into the return corral; and from the angle of view I had as I approached she looked as if she had collapsed across the row of trolleys. I actually, before I saw her move worried that she had collapsed and was in the process of expiring. I came up to the queue and then saw her move, so rather than embarrassing myself, I watched for a moment to see if I could suss-out what was going in.

It did not take long. She was poking at something in the third trolley back with a bit of twig. There was a receipt in the bottom of the cart that she was apparently trying to fish out. I could see her way of thinking, but could also see the she was going about it the wrong way.

Now, for those of you who have never traveled abroad, let me explain. Unlike most of the US, much of the world has an interesting means of getting people to walk their trolleys back to the cart park. On the handles of the shopping carts, there is a coin box, with a small chain coming out one side ending in a key and a slot that is designed to accept the key of the next cart on the other end.

To take a cart, you insert a coin, they take either dollar or two-dollar coins here, they take loonies or toonies in Canada, and one-pound coins in the UK. Once the coin is slotted, the key pops out of the slot in the back and your cart is freed from the rest. After you have done your weekly shop and put your groceries into your trunk, you walk your cart back to the cart corral, push the cart into the line of carts, slot the key from the one ahead of yours, and your coin is returned to you.

So, there I was watching this poor old woman trying to get the receipt out of one of the carts in the line…

She had just given up and turned to leave as I walked up.

“Here, let me help you.” I said, retrieving the receipt and handing it to her.

She turned and said, “Ah! Thank you, but how did you get it?”

“I just put a coin into this cart here and slid them out…” I explained demonstrating it as I did.

She rolled her eyes in mock exasperation. “Thank you! It has my gasoline discount on it!”

I nodded, wished her a good day, and went back about my planned shopping excursion. It feels good to help people! I

Wherever you are this morning I hope that you have had a chance to lend a hand to a complete stranger in need.

Don Bergquist – 15 April 2012 – Canberra, ACT, Australia


Anonymous said...

I had a similar experience last week. I was at the local library and went to the vending machine to get something to eat. A young teenager was staring at the vending machine and was upset because the item he had chosen had started to fall out but then got stuck. I tried to rock the vending machine back and forth like I usually do when that happens but the machine was too heavy and the item did not come loose. Out of the goodness of my heart (and because I wanted to make my own purchase without the kid getting upset) I put a dollar bill in the machine and chose the item that he wanted. The item that was stuck and the item that I had purchased both came out. I personally wanted another item so I said I knew how frustrating it was when that happened and I gave him both of the items that fell out of the machine. A few seconds later while I was purchasing the candy bar that I wanted the kid walked up to me and gave me four quarters. I felt very good. I did a good dead and I was reimbursed for it.

Anonymous Reader

Don Bergquist said...

Hey there, Anonymous Reader!

Yes - Being generous is its own reward!