The Inspector

Yesterday I arrived at work 30 minutes early. Since I’m not allowed to drive and nobody should be allowed to ride the bus, I’m beholden to Judi’s lunch schedule. Fortunately for her, I’m quite good at riding in a car, so I didn’t mess up her day too badly.

Dear diary: I arrived at work 12:30PM. By 12:35PM, the Health Inspector had arrived.

My favorite two Sherlocks… E-GAD!

You might know I’ve been trying for a promotion for a year now.  Last month, I met with the District Manager, and finally got the ball rolling in the right direction. With any luck (and mostly a lot of skill), I’ll be managing a store within a year or so. This inspection is a mixed blessing because each store in the district receives their mandatory health inspection twice a year, and everyone’s hopes and dreams are pinned to it.  All our annual reviews, chances for promotion, even my boss’s performance rating, are pinned to how well we do. It personally means a lot as well, because last year I was assigned oversight of the whole process.  General store cleanliness, training the employees, conducting in-house audits: all this was in my current portfolio.

If I failed this little walkthrough, all my hard work could be sunk with one Critical finding.

The scary part was I had to rely solely on everyone else.  I’d been off work for five days owing to all stupid medical stuff that has been plaguing my week. I hadn’t even seen the store since Saturday afternoon. It really all came down to a few things: how much deep cleaning had the staff managed to do while I was gone? Had they kept up on the daily cleanings of equipment? How well did I train them for general cleaning, and could they pull off the five minute run flawlessly? Incidentally, the five minute run is our Emergency “Health Inspector’s here!” drill.  In five minutes we clean up any fixable messes that occurred during the last shift. Anything I could do was done over the last six months. now, I just grin and followed the guy.

The auditor was a large, bald man with an easy laugh. We recognized him when he walked into the store because of his wheeled suitcase, and the tablet slung low over his shoulder on a carrying strap. I greeted him, introduced myself, and set the wheels in motion.  My teeth were gritted for that first ten minutes.  I hadn’t even had time to clock in for my shift yet!

I shadowed him and we chatted as he went through the store, from the ceiling’s air conditioning intake vents to the  bottoms of the trash cans.  He checked expiration dates, checked how long it took for our espresso shots to pull (standard is 18-23 seconds per shot), checked our refrigeration temperature logs (we check every day, twice a day or it’s a violation), and he pointed out a few opportunities here and there. He looked for crumbs in a few spots. Checked for dust (3-dimensional dust is a thing. Who knew?). No buildups of sugar in one of our sugar containers. No storage on top of our fridges. Stores need an extra water filter on hand, in case the first one needs emergency replacement. With each thing he noted, I felt my chances at promotion slowly shriveling. In our district 90% is passing mark. It only takes a single “critical” opportunity to drop your score 5 points. One critical, and a handful of minor findings, and I was sunk.

Finally, he tabulated the score.

94.8% I survived the audit, with no criticals!

Immediately after, I reported the score to my boss (who arrived halfway through). He said “okay, I’m going home now.” I got a fist bump and 4 hours of indigestion for my trouble, but it was all done.

Everyone in our store is breathing that fabled sigh of relief. We were the last store in the district to be audited, which means the season for the second audit will be starting any time now.

Nearly anyone can be trained to brew a pot of coffee, heat a sandwich, or even to make art in the foam of a latte, but in this line of work, the business of cleanliness never ends. CONSTANT VIGILANCE! Mad-Eye Moody would say (or at least his evil clone said it). Sorry for the gratuitous Harry Potter reference but it’s a little phrase I keep reminding myself. Maybe this audit’s score is finally the moment that gives my career the that extra push.


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