Q is for Quality Control
“Thank you, sir. Now, please show me to your inventory storage.”
Del shuffled his feet, trying to think of a way to avoid taking the quality assessment officer into the store room. His boss didn’t like anyone in the back room—especially not someone with the power to shut down their high-end bottled water sales.
But the man with the plain white shirt and narrow black tie simply stared at him. There was nothing else he could do.
“Right,” Del said. “The storeroom.” He took a deep breath and opened the door leading to the back area of the business. The inspector followed closely behind.
“As you can see, everything is exactly as it should be.” Del stopped with a voila gesture.
The man with the clipboard ignored him, instead turning toward the palates of bottled water. “These seem to be properly stacked for safety.” He made marks on a form. “How quickly is inventory turned over?”
Del thought for a minute. “I think about every three days? I can have the manager send an inventory report when—”
“Fine, fine. And your containers. Are they sterilized here, or do they come that way?”
“They, umm… they come that way.” Del usually didn’t deal with inventory. His job was sales. But people from the government showed up when they showed up. He had no choice but to do what was asked the best that he could.
The man turned toward him. “Now,” he said, “the filtration? I assume that happens on site?”
“It does,” Del said.
“And where is that equipment?”
Del paused again. But really, he had no choice. Did he?
“Well, the filling is here.” He led the inspector to a bank of faucets along the far wall and turned one on. Crystal clear water ran into a drain.
“Are your filters under this cabinet?” He opened it only to find cleaning equipment for the bottle filling station. “Oh. That’s not it.” He looked around again. “Ah… this door, then. I assume this room has your pumps and filters?”
As the man reached for the doorknob, Del tried to divert him a final time. “Really, if you could come back when…”
“Surprise inspections cannot be diverted, as you know. Quality control is far to serious an issue. Now, I’ll just take a quick look.”
The quality assessment officer opened the door and stepped through. “Lights?”
Del reached a hand through the opening and flipped a switch then flattened himself against the wall outside the filtration room.
Their non-standard, proprietary filtration system roared to life. Del was pretty sure the inspector’s white shirt wouldn’t still be white.
The bells at the front of the store jangled.
“Del? I’m back from district. Why aren’t you…” The manager’s voice trailed off as he walked into the storeroom and saw the look on Del’s face. “Why is the door open? Who….”
“Surprise inspection from Quality Assessment.”
“Oh,” said his manager. He and Del stared at each other for a moment. “Well, at least we won’t have to feed her this week.”
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