Thursday, August 16, 2007

Professionalism - Part 5

Monday, August 6, 7:30 AM.

Who should come bursting into my supply closet-slash-office but HRH, Ms. Anne Thropic? And so danged early, too! She usually doesn't put in an appearance until 8:00 or, more usually, 8:30.

"I need to see those [Pewter] quotes again," she monotoned.

I pulled out my quote notebook and removed two thick, stapled-together sections; one for each of the two sizes. Attached, were the Final (approved) Quotes, printouts of the spreadsheets used to calculated the costs and pricing as well as my version of the 44 x 26 matrix the customer supplied.

As I handed these stacks to her she asked, "Does this have a copy of the spreadsheet they sent us?"

"Yes," I replied, unfolding it from the back of the stack. "Here it is."

Annie turned on her stiletto heel and zoomed out of my dungeon.

Hmmm... there are those bells again!

A few minutes later, I was walking by the PM's office and there he was with Princess Anne, poring over the [Pewter] quote package. The danger bells are now ringing at a deafening level!

"Uh, is there a question about the [Pewter] Quotes?" I asked while sticking my head in the door.

"Naw, it's OK," The PM replied. "We're just looking over the quantities they asked for."

"Uh, OK," I replied uneasily. "Let me know if I can help you with anything..."

"They said the quantities we quoted aren't what they asked for!" Anne announced in her best Faye Dunaway "no wire hangers" Joan Crawford impression.

Bounding out of her chair, she declared, "We gotta look at the original spreadsheet file they sent us!"

With me and the PM sucked along in her wake, we traipsed up to the front office. It was now about 8:00. Annie located her original e-mail attachment (the one I had printed out for the VP so very long ago) and opened it.

"LOOK! LOOK, THERE!" she screeched. "Their spreadsheet is calling out different quantities than the ones you gave me! YOU REVISED THE CUSTOMER'S SPREADSHEET! YOU CAN'T DO THAT!"

"I did no such thing!" I shot back. "I ran a data sort function to put their info into a usable format."

"SARA! I'M EMAILING YOU A FILE - I NEED YOU TO PRINT IT OUT FOR ME!" hollered HRH. "You revised the customer's spreadsheet! Do you know how bad this makes us look?!?!?"

"Listen, I did an Excel data sort! Let's not forget that both you and [PM] reviewed and approved these quotes," I hissed.

"You revised the customer's spreadsheet! I checked the quotes against your printouts!" she fumed.

If I had any patience for these sort of theatrics, they were now long gone.

"Look," I said. "If I've cost this company a major account because of my carelessness you can fire me now and I'll go on unemployment. I don't know what else to tell you."

I stomped out of the front office and went back to my hole on the plant floor.

What a grand and glorious start to the work week! Ulcers and it isn't even 8:30 yet.

(Did I mention it was my wedding anniversary? "Hi, Honey! Happy anniversary! I got fired today!")

Musings... Prelude to the Afternoon of a Pawn.

Back in my cubby hole two things were swirling through my skull:

1. How did doing a simple data sort screw up the item quantities? I've created and sorted any number of Excel spreadsheets in my time. Heck, I deal with them on an hourly basis. I opened up the original customer-generated spreadsheet file and attempted to do the data sort again. Lo, and behold, somehow the column with the quantity information is completely de-coupled from the rest of the sheet!

That is to say, Yeah I was able to sort each item by size, colors, etc. but, while the cells with this information behaved and formed nice, orderly rows, the columns with the quantity information stayed put! WHAT THE..? I've never had this happen before! How is this even possible? But there it was, in front of me.

OK, well, now at least I can show what had happened, even if I don't know why it happened. But this leads me to...

2. WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON WITH THIS CO-WORKER, ANYWAY? In reviewing the events of the past month, I finally noticed that she had stopped filling out "Request For Quote" forms, had stopped talking to me, started hiding behind cryptic email messages and had been running to my bosses any time she had a concern (legitimate or otherwise) about the quality of my work.

I can't figure this out. Was she really that pissed off that I suggested she print out her own e-mails? Did her ego take too big a bruising by my unwillingness to be her stooge? Is she afraid of me all of a sudden? What gives?

I don't know, but I was quickly becoming aware that a month-long smear campaign had been waged behind my back. To make matters worse, Anne and the VEEP have a more than seven year history going back to when HRH was the VEEP's aerobics instructor - I kid you not! Just imagine Patsy and Eddie from "Absolutely Fabulous" and you'll have a snapshot of these two.

Lunch break came and went, and right on cue, the VEEP showed up at my desk.

"Craig, can we see you for a moment?" she said, her face a stern rictus of managerial doom.

Yep, I was read the riot act.

How can we trust your dependability, your very ethics, after this big of a bungle? Don't you know that the [Pewter] account is one we've been trying to land for six years? If this wasn't bad enough, you made a flippant remark about getting fired so you could collect unemployment! Well, what do you have to say for yourself?

Here is what I had to say for myself:

"Look. I am mortified that I made such a mistake. I went right back to my computer and re-did the data sort function and was able to replicate the same error. I've run this function hundreds of times before and have never had this kind of a problem."

"But I will tell you this. This error wasn't a result of laziness or carelessness. I was trying to find a better way of managing the data that was provided me. The original spreadsheet printout was unreadable. Ironically, I was trying to mistake-proof the information and make it more user-friendly."

"Now, in my defense, these quotes were supposedly reviewed and approved by two different people. I have to tell you that I don't have a warm, fuzzy feeling that Annie even looked at any of the information the customer was requesting. She had me print it out and give it to you, only to have you give it back to me."

"She did not write up any 'Request For Quotes' per our standard operating procedure and, in fact, she hasn't even been talking to me for the past month! She's been doing an end-run around me and the process by going through you and [The PM]. She even refused to review the final versions I printed out. What's up with that?"

The VEEP's eyes kind of shifted around and she drew a breath.

"Anne says you've been very negative to work with lately. She's always been your biggest booster, but lately you've had a bad attitude," she replied.

The PM sat there, totally silent. He knew which side his bread was buttered on. Wise move on his part.

"In Anne's line of business," the VEEP continued, "she cannot tolerate negativity or 'road blocks' of any kind in getting her job done."

"Well," I responded, "if you want to talk 'road blocks' I would suggest that not communicating with your co-workers and refusing to follow the proper quoting procedures are a couple of pretty big 'road blocks.' I don't see how this is a sign that I have an attitude problem."

"Now," I continued, "I've been in management before and have had to sit on your side of the table on matters like this. I appreciate what a difficult task it is to have to initiate and conduct these sort of sessions, so you have my empathy."

"Oh, Craig," the VEEP said, brightening. "We were all so glad when you came on board here! Truly, God sent you to us and we all love you! I am confident we can move past this matter and get back on track."

"I'll say, this!" I spluttered. "In all my years, I've never had an employer say that they loved me before..."

I was given a copy of the ass-reaming "reprimand" memo and went back about my business.

I decided my next order of business would be to arrange for an audience with Her Majesty, Princess Anne...

LATE BREAKING NEWS!!! This whole saga has suddenly come to a climax/conclusion that I would have never foreseen in a million years! I am so tempted to spoil the ending, but this is a tale that must be told in its entirety. Watch this space, folks!



Blogger Lee said...

Oi! My head hurts.

At least I know there's a happy ending!

August 16, 2007 7:16 PM  
Blogger Craig D said...

lee: We'll see how "happy" it is. What's that German word for "shameful joy?" SCHANDENFRAUDE or something like that?

Tomorrow and Saturday are both Father-Daughter Days, so posting will be difficult. I hope I can get the rest of this stupidity documented, so's I can get on with my so-called "life!"

August 16, 2007 10:09 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Let me guess: She got fired and now you're in sales. Either that or the VEEP has asked you to marry her. Or the company.

August 17, 2007 12:51 AM  
Blogger more cowbell said...

oh you did NOT just leave us all hanging like that ... I should've been in bed 15 minutes ago, but couldn't tear myself away, and now, no satisfaction? Sheesh, where's the fast forward button on this thing?!

August 17, 2007 2:31 AM  
Blogger whimsical brainpan said...

Let me guess, you threw water on her and she melted.

August 17, 2007 3:17 AM  
Blogger Gale said...

Do you have ulcers? I would have ulcers. I am of course on the edge of my seat awaiting the outcome of this saga.

August 17, 2007 8:58 AM  
Blogger Allan said...

How do you keep a blogger in suspense? Geez, I can relate to this story...I hope you had a better ending! Enjoy the weekending regardless of the job crap.

August 17, 2007 2:08 PM  
Blogger Toby Roan said...

And I thought my job was a drag.

August 17, 2007 10:11 PM  
Blogger Craig D said...

Thanks for eveyone's on-goin interest and comments! I ahve stayed up late after an exhausting "Father-Daughter" day to post what I *hope* is the final chapter of this saga. I'm pretty whipped, so my apologies, in advance.

You won't want to miss the pulse-pounding conclusion!

August 17, 2007 11:02 PM  

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