Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Professionalism - Part 4

I don't mean to get all Quenton Tarantino on you folks, but I have to get this narrative moving along. So there may be a few flash-backs and flash-forwards ahead. Or behind? Whatever...

On Monday, July 9th, I received one of those "I need you to print out this attachment for me" e-mails from Ms. Thropic.

This was in tandem with the phone ringing. "I've sent you an email attachment I need you print out for me," my co-worker's voice crackled out of the handset.

I dutifully tried to open the attachment, but no go. I got the error message that there was no application associated with the ".docx" file she had sent.

I relayed this info back to her and went to see the plant manager about some other stuff.

A few minutes later, there's Annie banging on the manager's window with an antic expression on her face. Why, she waving that beloved pin drive of her's and she's pointing at me!

"Looks like I'm wanted," I said as I excused myself.

"Here!" she shrilled. "I've put that file on my pin drive! Let's see if you can print it out now!"

"Look," I said while sticking the drive into my USB port. "It's not that I didn't receive your file. It's that I can't print it out. See? The computer doesn't recognize the '.docx' suffix."

"Oh yeah!" she countered. "This is an Office 2007 file! You'll have to download a patch so you can open it!"

At this point, my patience had just about run out.

"Hey, I've got an idea!" I rasped. "How about instead of me downloading a patch so I can open your e-mail attachments, why don't you get hooked up to the company's network printer so you can do it yourself? Heck, you just got yet another new laptop! How about buying a printer for it?"

With a startled expression on her face, Princess Anne headed back to the front office.

Obviously, "we were not amused!"

And thus is the stage set for the 2007 Passive-Aggressive Olympics.

Flash forward to Thursday, July 19th, 3:32pm.

Another email shows up from the desk of Ms. Anne Thropic:

[Pewter] quote request:

Craig please print the attached files (spreadsheet and pdf’s) and give to [the VP]. Also print this email as a cover sheet (info for [the VP]).

Thanks, [Anne]
Yeah, there's only 6 pdfs and one honkin' big spreadsheet to print out. I sent them all to the network printer (why waste my ink cartridge?) that happens to be right next to Her Highness' cubicle.

Spotting my chrome dome above the partitions Annie says, "Didja get my email?"

"Yeah," I replied. "I'm printing it right now. Say, did you ever talk to [the IT guy] about getting your laptop hooked up to the network printer so I wouldn't have to print out your emails for you?"

"He wouldn't have to touch my computer to do it, would he?" she gasped.

"Well, I don't think he can do it telepathically," I replied.

"Well, then I'm not gonna do it!" she snapped back. "OK, see that [the VP] gets those! I'm outta here!!!!!!!" And with a burst of speed that would do the Road Runner proud, she was gone.

The VP happened to be out of the office for the remainder of that day, and since I don't work on Fridays, I deposited the print outs in her "IN" basket and shuffled off.
July 23, Monday morning. I got a call from the VEEP.

"Anne's on the phone and she wants to know if you've started on that [Pewter] quote." (I should mention, here, that Ms. Thropic was on a two-day Mississippi Riverboat gambling cruise and was checking in via cell phone.)

"Is that the stuff she asked me to print out and give to you?" I asked. "She didn't say a word to me about working up any quotes." And, indeed, she hadn't.

The pile ended up back on my desk with a post-it from the VEEP: "Craig/[Plant Manager]: Need this Monday!"

What "this" was, was a 44 row x 26 column spreadsheet matrix! Each of the 44 items had to be quoted. There was a seemingly random mixture of sizes, colors and other requirements for each item. The spreadsheet printout was useless, because it wasn't really formatted to be printed. Columns, rows and headers spilled out over a variety of pages.

OK, the first order of business is to go back to the spreadsheet file attachment and put these things into some kind of useful grouping. Using the excel data sort function, I sorted by size (there were two basic sizes), then by number of colors and so on. Then I hid redundant columns and played with the printout settings until I had two pages that would print out, in a legible fashion, on standard legal size paper.

I spent the rest of the week working with the plant manager to get pricing on tooling and raw materials. I ran the calculations to come up with pricing for the various quantities requested for each of the 44 items.

Then, after getting the PM's okay, I went to Microsoft Word and filled in the quote template 44 times, one for each item. I cut and pasted the calculated prices and other information to the template and printed the whole mess out for the Princess' royal review and approval.
Side note: Her majesty had found a couple of typos on my quotes recently. Instead of coming to me and asking that they be corrected, she ran to the VEEP and PM. This blew up in her face, as the VP said that, from now on, the reps would have to review and sign off on their own quotes before sending them out. I was far from insulted! In fact, such an approval step is wholly appropriate given that the reps' names were going on the documents. And, oh yeah, they were the ones reaping the commissions! The fact that she was running to intermediaries about the corrections only upped the volume on those warning bells I mentioned some time back.
July 30, Monday? (This part of the time-line is sketchy...)

Turns out I had made a mistake on the quotes I gave to Annie for review. Sure enough, she went running to the VP and PM.

The phone buzzed. It was the PM. "Hey, Craig. You got the wrong dimensions on a pile of these [Pewter] quotes. C'mon in and let's take a look at it."

Anne was exiting the office as I entered.

Sure enough, I had cut-and-pasted the same dimension on each of the 44 pages! There were two size groupings and I had failed to overwrite the quote template with the correct size for about two dozen pages. That's why we have the review process, I guess...

I showed the PM the quote sheets we had worked up to assure him that the prices had been calculated correctly and then went about correcting and re-printing the one group of quotes for Ms. Thropic's sign-off.

"Here are those corrected [Pewter] quotes for your review and sign-off," I said as I entered Anne's royal cubicle.

"Oh, I don't have time to mess with those now!" she huffed. "I have to go meet a client. I'll need those quotes approved today because I'm driving up to [Pewter] tomorrow morning. Give them to [the Plant Manager] for sign off!"

And again, she was off in a royal blur.

Well. So the PM is her "bitch" now, too? And, uh, the VP said it was the reps' responsibility to review and approve these things. Huh. I trudged back to the PM's office with Ms. Thropic's royal decree. He reviewed. He signed. I deposited the revised paperwork on HRH's desk.

"Whew," I thought to myself. "Well , at least that's over!"

Yeah, I know...



Blogger Charlotta-love said...

This is when I would mutter under my breath, "A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine."

August 16, 2007 8:18 AM  
Blogger whimsical brainpan said...

How did you keep yourself from killing this woman?

I am amazed at your self restraint!

August 16, 2007 3:01 PM  
Blogger Allan said...

I luv the spreadsheet cartoon! Do you ever dream in Excel? I hate that.

August 16, 2007 3:50 PM  
Blogger furiousBall said...

kill her craig, kill her dead.

August 16, 2007 3:51 PM  
Blogger Craig D said...

charlotta: I did have one of those "You want it when?" posters that I inherited from my predecessor, but I pitched it a while back.

whim & furiousball: My! Such bloodlust! It gives me such a warm feeling inside.

allan: That was a doodle I did on a post-it note. That's why it's yellow. Dream in Excel! You crack me up!

I can't friggin' BELIEVE the turn this whole situation has taken as of 5:00 Thursday afternoon. More to come.

August 16, 2007 9:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What does that bimbo do all day? Does she have a job description and is she related to someone there, because she sounds like a useless turd!!!!!!! Your sister, Amy

August 17, 2007 12:32 AM  

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