Malik had ended up in Ms. Earle’s office, AKA the unemployment office. AGAIN. It wasn’t the first time. This time his manager, third grader J.J., had let him go for lack of productivity. Malik was caught with his head on the counter of the keychain venture he worked for during Marketplace time at Joseph Keels Elementary, his MicroSociety school. Instead of counting the SELs from sales, he was counting his sheep. This came the day after he was found roaming the Marketplace, chatting with his friend, Alan, about basketball. He should have been chatting with his customers about accessories for their house keys.
Ms. Earle had gotten to know Malik quite well. He was what others called a “frequent flyer”. But she believed that it didn’t have to stay this way. She saw real smarts in him-a real problem solver. She just didn’t get why he was creating real problems.
“Talk to me. Why do you keep ending up here?” she asked, concern showing in her eyes.
“We’ve got issues in our Marketplace. Our products are made poorly. A customer uses his hard earned SELs only to have his purchase fall apart. Seconds after buying!” he exclaimed. “I can’t sell that stuff. Employers need to train their employees to deliver higher quality products. Customers deserve nothing less.”
Ms. Earle pondered. “But sleeping on the job won’t fix that problem, will it? Nor will leaving your post. You can’t run away from problems.” Malik looked at the ground.
“I like your ideas for quality control and product improvement. Perhaps we can devise something for you… a real game changer,” she offered. She handed him the binder for the Quality Control Agency and a yellow legal pad.
He poured over the pages with Ms. Earle, on a quest to find the solutions. He felt important, like now he had a job to do – one where he could start to make some changes. And that job was Quality Control Agent.
His mission? Find the answers to pressing questions like, Do products last or do they tend to break after buying? Are products safe? Do all of the Micro ventures have return policies? Do employees learn from dissatisfied customers? Are prices fair? And help ventures to sell products with pride.
No longer frustrated and bored, Malik could now roam with purpose – and make a shopping list along the way. There were some good items in the Marketplace after all.