Lily is rewarded for her dedication to working the front counter of a book store with a lecture on "constant vigilance".
Lily yelped. Her head shot up and her hands slapped over the article she was working on. "M-Mr. Radcliff!"
"Boss Radcliff," Mr. Radcliff replied. He removed his cigar, billowed dark smoke from his mouth, and stuck the cigar back between his teeth. "Stop with the 'mister' stuff, Delaney. 'Mister' won't get you respect. But 'Boss'...that makes me sound important. Like I should be on Biography with that Al Capone person."
"Yes, sir," Lily said. "Boss."
"But that doesn't matter," Mr. Radcliff said. "Do me a favor: tell me what you're doing that isn't working the counter in my book store."
Mr. Radcliff didn't know she was a moonlighter. And he never seemed like he would be receptive to the idea. Good thing she had a ready-to-use excuse. "I was just writing a report on the store."
"Report? I didn't ask for a report. Why didn't you tell me I asked for one? You could've sent me a reminder. Like a report or something."
"Well, I saw some problems that needed to be addressed and I figured I'd let you know about them," Lily said. "But since you're always busy-"
"Of course I am," Mr. Radcliff grumbled. "I run a book store. It's a lot more difficult than you think, Delaney. You just have to watch the counter. I have to make an excuse for why I can't pay Teddy this month."
"-since you're so busy, I decided to write up a report that you can review when you have free time," Lily finished. "Is that okay?"
Radcliff removed his cigar and wagged it up and down like an approving nod. "You've got initiative, Delaney. I like that. That's why you're still not fired."
"But initiative isn't the only thing this bookstore needs." Radcliff turned around and spread his arms, like he was giving the space of the miniscule bookstore an embrace. "This isn't just a business. It's a business that's not making me enough money. But I won't sacrifice good customer service to reach those goals. And you shouldn't either."
"If anyone comes in, I'll definitely help them out," Lily said as Radcliff turned back around, taking another puff of his cigar. "But it's Sunday morning. Everyone's at church."
"That's no excuse!" Radcliff said. "It might be slow now, but that'll change, and when that happens, I want you ready to serve!" He pointed at the glass door, towards the busy city streets and cars zooming past outside. "Anything could happen! A bus could pull up in front of this store right now, full of tourists hungry for John Grisham! We HAVE to be prepared!" He whirled around and snapped his fingers at another employee. "Teddy, make sure we have Grisham in stock!"
Lily relaxed her death grip on her article, folding her hands. "Boss, I get what you're trying to say, but I don't think a bus full of literary tourists will ever stop by here."
"It's the principle of the matter!" Radcliff said, turning back around to face her. "This is war, Delaney. Our enemy is the big bookstores. They can attack from all sides at any time. The only way to fight back is with the weapons of great personal service - a friendly smile, a helpful hand, and constant vigilance! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!"
"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!" Lily screamed, leaping a good half-inch off the floor.
"You see?" Radcliff said with a point of his meaty finger. "If you were paying attention like you should have been, you would have seen that coming!"
"You threw your cigar at me!"
"Unsatisfied customers won't warn you when they're about to complain!" Radcliff said. "Your job is to make sure they don't have a reason to complain, and the only way to do that is to stay alert!" He folded his big arms. "Do you understand what I'm trying to say?"
Lily glanced down at the large ash stain on her uniform's green apron, left by the cigar striking her chest and falling to the floor. "...yeah, Boss. I promise I'll be more alert from now on."
"Good girl." Radcliff tapped the counter. "Now finish that report. You're not doing anything - everyone's at church right now."