Friday, January 6, 2012

Earned my keep today

So today, I went into work and was presented with a three-ring binder filled with samples of governing documents from peer organizations, that I was directed to study and extract sample language to help my organization update our own governing documents.

Only three pages into it, I discovered that the printed-on-both-sides pages were disarranged in order, missing critical pages, and some documents were printed in 8 point fonts, xeroxed and virtually unreadable.


I couldn't deal with it, though; because I had to go to a ceremonial departmental quarterly staff meeting. I asked our smart and talented Administrative Assistant to sort it all out while I was gone.

In the departmental meeting, we went round the table and each person gave a sanitized press-release version of what we've been doing lately. Oddly, this format compels participants to overblow their achievements and wax at length about their prowess at - oh, I don't know - their ability to make ledger entries into the institutional financial interface ("Just learned how to pull a new report showing total revenue for the fiscal year and analyze the amount of sales tax paid!" "No, seriously, we've been able to recover our parking permit costs!"). Since there are about fifteeen of us, it takes a while - two hours, at least to go round the table.

Meanwhile - My colleague had met yesterday with a client who was purchasing a service to be delivered on Monday. At that meeting, the client requested services that exceeded their advance payment - so my colleague sent a notice of the additional amount due tomorrow - Friday - so that their delivery could be completed on Monday morning.

I continued to deal with the binder of documents. I consulted with our Administrative Assistant about the pros and cons of loading pre-punched three-hole binder paper into the copier. I will have to wait until tomorrow to receive a re-vamped binder.

The client for the Monday delivery suddenly erupted into a passive-aggressive, emotionally charged email rant, and then contacted our boss's boss's boss's boss to complain about us - which I learned about because the Administrative Assistant for our boss's boss's boss's boss contacted me to inquire about background information for the incident to provide for her boss.

Where was my boss in this?  In a five- hour  meeting off-site, inaccessible.

This was at maybe a half hour before I was due to clock out for the day. I was asked to compose a comprehensive account of the history of our dealings with this client, so that the boss's boss's boss's boss could effectively respond.

This was difficult to do, because I had to decide how much of the client's history to disclose. I chose to disclose the fact that in past years he had bounced a check to our organization, but - using my discretion - I omitted the fact that he had stiffed a fellow vendor for services rendered over a year ago, and that our office had successfully fended off calls from bill collectors seeking access to serve papers on the client. I mean - I think I was being fair about this - don't you?.

Almost thirty seconds after I hit "Send" on that missive, my phone rang and I took a call from a minion of the disgruntled client. He emotionally aired his grievances over our despicable unfairness, and then settled down and laid out his counterproposal. He proposes an alternate deadline for the delivery of payment, citing its achievability.

I told him I had no authority to agree to his proposal - since - like, DUH! - his boss had brought it to the attention of the boss's boss's boss' boss, who now had a stake in it. But I said that I'd present his counter-proposal for their consideration.

Then I took a call from the boss's boss's boss's boss who told me that the disgruntled client had been contacted and told via a voice message that we were holding firm on our terms.

I kinda thought the counter-proposal was acceptable. But it was no longer my call. I consulted my own boss.

The verdict?  We are standing by the deadline. Tonight I delivered by email our reply - rejecting the counter-proposal.

So - okay - although I think the client had proposed what could have been a good solution to the dispute, I upheld my side's decision to hold firm on what's basically a lose-lose scenario. Tonight I am going to sleep a peaceful sleep and in the morning I will wait and see what happens.

And find out whether that three-ring binder is actually readable.

How's your work week been?

Photos are details of the mural in the nursery of the Los Angeles Theatre. Click to "embiggen."


Gilly said...

I wonder sometimes at the IQ of people sending out documents like that!!

I hope you managed to do a Sherlock Holmes Act and find/decipher the necessary pages!

Gary's third pottery blog said...

"must control...fists...of death..." from Dilbert :)

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

How's your work week been?

Oh, fine.

Deborah said...

Oh my. Some people get to have all the fun.

Anonymous said...

My head is spinning... and Gary thought of what I should have thought of...

Breathe deeply and think happy thoughts... retirement comes to mind...