The Limits of Good Will

In accounting, credits go on the left and debits go on the right. (I think, so, anyway. It’s been a very long time since I took accounting.) The numbers have to balance. The concept of balancing the columns is so important in accounting that it’s better to have a wildly inaccurate balance than no balance. That’s just how it works.

Accountants also  have a term for things that don’t easily quantify: goodwill. Goodwill is the intangible stuff that a prosperous company can’t really afford to lose. It combines the value of the brand, the company’s reputation for ethical and moral behavior, and the quality of the product line into a catch-all term.

I’m working a double shift tonight because one coworker who works evenings got sick. That happens. Another coworker who generally works evenings thought that because yesterday was a holiday and they usually work Tuesday through Saturday, with Mondays off, and since today was a Monday class schedule, they were allowed to take today off, too. It was probably an honest mistake. I mean, it sounds reasonable. Logical. Doesn’t it?


But this is not the first time this has happened. Additionally, Monday is our busiest day. Being here late is not what I would choose to do given an alternative, but I can’t really take it out on my students, either.

Anyway . . . goodwill is not infinite. People notice things: patterns, proclivities, procedures. When you cover for a coworker there’s an implied expectation that there was a good reason. If it turns out there isn’t, well, goodwill drops and things happen.


Two and a half hours until closing. Yowza.

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