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The Chronicles of Cranky Bungler
Old 08-18-2016, 12:04 AM
Gerrinson Gerrinson is offline
Accounts Payable/IT Helpdesk
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 1,104
Default The Chronicles of Cranky Bungler

This particular thread has been a long time in coming - it starts 6 1/2 years ago. This is about a former co-irker and the many tears joys she brought upon the rest of us. This will definitely be posted in multiple parts over multiple days, as I go through my notes of the Bungler years. To help set the scenes: Not so much in looks, but in speaking manner and attitude, CB greatly resembled Dolores Umbridge from the Harry Potter novels. I think that will really help you picture the way pretty much all of her comments were addressed to all of her coworkers and higher ups at basically all times.

Background on me: I was hired into an accounts payable position - the accounting position that processes invoices and pays the bills, for anyone unfamiliar. I had 5 years experience coming in, so I wasn't new the role. Specifically, they had fired 4 people from the role in 5 years and they were looking for someone with skill & experience to fix the many problems that had come up. The people that hired me, Awesome Boss Lady and Zen Vice President, were excited for both my experience and any changes, improvements, etc. that I could bring to a role that had been a failure point for a long time. I wasn't just hired to do the job, I was hired to overhaul it and make it better.

The first encounter: My first encounter with Cranky Bungler, CB for short, was in the very first 5 minutes of my very first day at this job.

CB was introduced by Awesome Boss Lady (ABL) who specified out loud that ABL is my boss, CB is just training me because of her knowledge of the system. Specifically, ABL warned me that CB would try to claim she was my supervisor and this is not true. This was also explicitly stated to CB in front of me.

ABL was boss to my whole dept. and it really should be a red flag when you are warned by the dept. head that one of your coworkers is known to try to invent powers of control that are not theirs. Also, I should have asked up front - why is she employed still if she doesn't follow chain of command? Ah, hindsight...

Anyway, I get set up at my desk and Cranky Bungler is sent over to teach me the system. We start with an overview of where basic things are located - copier, filing cabinet, check printer, paper stock - regular & checks, office supplies, etc. A good place to start, really, laying a foundation. Then this happened:

CB: And this is your electric stapler *points to stapler, which is right behind the keyboard, mashed in under the monitor*

Me: Excellent! I asked for one at my old job but they wouldn't pay for it. I'm so glad to have one here. *I pick up the stapler and move it off to my left, where it's not mashed up between the keyboard & monitor and I can easily reach it with my offhand*

CB: No, no, it has to stay there *moving stapler back* because that is the most efficient place for workflow.

Me: Um, no offense, but that really isn't a good place for me. I'm likely to hit keys on the keyboard and then I'm reaching across it. I usually use my off-hand *waving left hand* to staple things, so I think it makes more sense over here. *moves stapler back where I had it*

CB: Look, you're new here. My job is to teach you system so you can follow the same process we've been using. Also, we've found over the years that this is most efficient place for it. *moves stapler back*

Me: Actually, I was hired to improve on the process. You've lost four people in as many years, clearly the old system isn't cutting it. Trust me, I'm here to do this and I'll find my own efficiencies as I go. *moves stapler back*

CB: I'm the trainer here, so you'll do the job the way I teach it and that means your stapler goes here. *moves stapler back again*

Me: *Fed up with this nonsense* Okay, so teach me how to use <software>, then, let's get to it.

CB: Oh, no, I haven't shown you where to keep your phone, and tape, and pens yet! You have to set up your desk efficiently before you can actually do any work.

That's right: She had an entire layout planned for where everything went on my desk - down to where I should leave my pen when I wasn't using it. Micromanagement, anyone? And that was just the first five minutes of the first day. Now, as soon as she walked away, I moved the stapler back to where I actually wanted it. And the phone. And the tape. And nothing more was said or done about on the topic, at least not to my face. CB had a conversation with ABL, which I could hear through the open office door. It was reported to ABL that I was not 'embracing our current efficiency' in the role. ABL replied that I had fantastic recommendations and she trusted me to take the job and make it better and not to worry about the small stuff.

It was too soon for me to have known that when CB didn't get her way, she would switch to dirty and underhanded tricks.

Old 08-19-2016, 03:48 AM
Gerrinson Gerrinson is offline
Accounts Payable/IT Helpdesk
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 1,104

Okay, Round Two coming up!

Incidentally, I'm covering 2 full time jobs now while trying to juggle time with my wife & friends, so updates may get sporadic, depending on my free time and level of consciousness. I do have all my notes; I just have to scrub them for names and make sure I'm consistent with the naming conventions all the way through. Whee!

The second encounter, wherein I get tripped up:

So, after I displayed my blazing fast data entry speeds, not even Cranky Bungler could complain about my ability to handle the work I was given - I was expected to spend 2 hours entering a stack of invoices to 'get a feel' for the system. I finished in 45 minutes, which included getting a feel for this new (and screwy) software. CB thought I must have skipped some steps or done something wrong, the rest of the team was just impressed. And no, I did not skip anything or screw them up. When I'm good, I'm damned good.

Given that CB wasn't ready for me to need more training yet, she gave me a quick overview of the filing system and a large stack of filing that needed to be finished up. It's a part of the job and definitely the sort of thing I expect to face in the first few days in a low level (authority-wise) position.

She also filled me on some aspects of this place that were different from anywhere I worked.
  • The filing cabinets had outcards on top. If you take a file or files out, you replace them with the outcard as well as the date, name, and which files you took. I thought this was great, and makes refiling much easier because the outcards were brightly colored and really stood out.
  • No one from other departments was allowed to pull files. There had been problems in the past with this being a particular issue. Again, I would never let anyone else outside the department touch my files any other place I had worked. You can have a copy, but hands off my original financial records.
  • Lastly, no one on the Accounting team was allowed to touch the files except for me, in my role. This was weird to me. Was our department not staffed with adults? I made a note to follow up with Awesome Boss Lady on this later.

And so I spent some time filing. After that, I had some emails and HR stuff to resolve. As I was sitting at my desk, CB came over and told me she needed a full photocopy of a particular vendor invoice for a given month.

Me: I trust you with the files, obviously you've been dealing with them until I was hired, feel free to make your own copy.

CB: No, it's your job now, you need to fetch the file, make the copies, and bring them to me. *at which point she walked away and went back to her desk*

Now, to get to my desk and then go back to her desk, she walked past the file drawer with the record she wanted and 2 photocopiers. Twice. At this point, I'm still about 3 hours into my first day and I'm looking to not make giant waves, so I grumble in my head and do it. The record she wanted copied? 47 pages of non-standard sized pages, so I had to pull it apart and lay every one on the flatbed because the autofeed wouldn't take them. I was not happy, but it got done.

After making the copies, I delivered them to CB, just in time for ABL to tell me she had a couple meetings and wanted to touch base with me on my first day after she was done. In the meantime, I was given more make work to fill the time, nothing noteworthy.

Nearing the end of the day, ABL and I had a meeting to review the first day and she asked my impressions. The key part of that conversation, besides noting about a dozen capabilities I wanted to see added to the accounting software, was this bit:

Me: Look, I'm new here, but we're all adults and my first assumption is to trust my whole team to be able to do the work and handle basic tasks.

ABL: *looking confused* Right...

Me: So, it just doesn't make sense that only the one Accounts Payable person can touch the AP files. I totally agree not letting people from the rest of the organization go rifling through, but our team should all be able to access them. As long as they use outcards, there is no reason to treat them like children.

ABL: *now totally confused* Um, that is not the way it works. Who told you otherwise?

Me: *realizing I'd been played* Cranky told me that only I could touch the files and that everyone else in the dept. needed me to make copies for them because they weren't allowed to touch the files.

ABL: Really? CRANKY! Can you step in here, please?

CB joined us and ABL summed up the discussion. At which point CB starts cracking up.

CB: It's okay, ABL, just a little first day hazing!

Me: I don't appreciate 'hazing'. I'm here to learn how to do the job the right way. Not telling me the truth up front is off-putting.

ABL: Look, Gerrinson, I can see how Cranky thought it was a joke. Cranky, he's here to learn and you need to teach it the right way first time around. No more of this, okay?

CB: *still laughing* It was just a joke! Like college! *to me* You need to lighten up a bit!

At this point, I decided that CB and I were probably not going to get along very well. I also made a mental note to double check pretty much everything she taught me before getting embroiled too deeply into it. On my way out, I noticed that the 47 pages I'd copied for her were in the recycling bin. What a waste of time and paper for a 'joke'...

Old 08-19-2016, 05:55 PM
Gerrinson Gerrinson is offline
Accounts Payable/IT Helpdesk
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 1,104

Quoth eltf177 View Post
I probably would have walked right then and there...
Compared to my former place of employment, this actually wasn't too bad. Also, taking the job here was an immediate $8.00/hr raise in pay between increased salary & decreased benefits cost (for better coverage!)

So, there were some considerations to be made before just walking off the job. But, yeah, a good impression was not made on day 1.

Old 08-20-2016, 04:11 AM
Gerrinson Gerrinson is offline
Accounts Payable/IT Helpdesk
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 1,104

Just to point out - these posts are not the current situation - this thread started out 6 years in the past. And is still that old...

Round three, ding, ding, ding!:

So, Cranky Bungler pretty much gave up on trying to actively undermine me for a while - after the 'hazing' bit she was under some increased scrutiny. That said, she was an incredible stickler at first for accuracy. This is not a terrible thing in an accountant. CB took it to an extreme when reviewing other people's work.

For example, our system allows 50 characters of description per line. Which isn't that much when you're entering an invoice that is 6+ pages long of single spaced items. Obviously, I did a lot of summation in my wording. CB was insistent that I had to put in the quantity, unit size, and description of each item purchased - while keeping it to one line per expense code. When an invoice has 300 items coded to the same expense, it is quite literally impossible to key that level of detail into 50 characters.

The problem invoices were returned to me for 'correction'. I set them aside for a daily review with ABL. Who then called in Cranky to her office and set standards for what I did and did not have to delineate in notes. Sensing a pattern, yet? That nagging from CB fell by the wayside, too, for quite a while.

A note on invoice entry, for those not familiar: In every financial software I've used, you process invoices in 2 parts: First, you key the data. Second, you review it for mistakes and then post it into the system. Once posted, you cannot generally easily undo or change an invoice. This is intentional, and it is important to get the data right the first time.

During my first 90 day 'probational' period, I would key the data for the invoices, then CB would review and post them into the system. Anything that was incorrect was to be returned to me with notes about what was wrong, why, etc. The end goal was for me to be completely familiar with the system and data so I could take over posting the invoices, too.

Coming up on the end of my 90 day probation period, ABL was ecstatic with my progress - we were averaging 1,000+ invoices per month, some with up to 100 lines of data entry and for last 2 months, nothing had been returned to me by CB for correction. That would seem to indicate a 99.9% success rate for my data entry. So, the time came for the final review before unleashing me on posting invoices, and ABL called me into her office for a quick meeting.

ABL: You're doing great, not just keeping up, but staying totally on top of the invoices. I'm really happy and impressed with your work. We're going to check with CB, but before that - how many invoices are being returned to you for correction?

Me: Actually, none for over a month now. Not a single one. *humble brag shrug*

ABL: Seriously?!? That's awesome, high five! *yes, we high fived*

And then CB was called in.

ABL: Cranky, I just had a meeting with Gerrinson about invoices. I think he's ready to start posting, so you can hand that task off to him and free up a few more hours of your time.

CB: Well, I really think he needs more training. I'm seeing the same mistakes week after week with no improvement.

ABL: Gerrinson, I thought you said nothing had been returned to you for correction?

Me: That's because nothing has.

CB: Well, I'm busy and I don't have time to review all his mistakes with him, so I've just been fixing them myself before posting them. Really, he's just not picking things up as fast as he should have been. *weird combination of cat-butt face and cat-that-ate-the-canary grin. I really can't describe it better, but I've never seen the like before or since*

ABL: Cranky! Are you kidding me? How is he supposed to LEARN if you don't show him what's wrong and let him fix it? That's not his fault, that's your fault because your job is to TEACH.


Me: *quietly, in my head: You dug that hole for yourself, bitch. *

ABL: Forget it, we don't have time to drag this out. Gerrinson, you start posting invoices yourself. I'll give you the things that need correcting and I'm sure you'll be up to speed in another couple weeks because you've picked everything else up easily. Head on back to your cube and shut the door behind you, please. Cranky, you stay here, we need to chat.

I felt like that one was a win for me.

Pro tip: If you're going to undermine your coworkers, probably don't openly admit to your boss. But if you do admit it, make sure the person you undermined is there is to enjoy the show.

Old 08-20-2016, 04:33 AM
Gerrinson Gerrinson is offline
Accounts Payable/IT Helpdesk
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 1,104

When I was hired, I had a medical issue that was mid-resolution. One of the strange systems was keeping me from sleeping for more than 10-15 minutes at a go. This had been going on for 4 months before I was hired, and continued for another 4 months. Needless to say, despite rocking the job, I was not functioning at my personal best. Every few days, I'd get so tired my body would crash and I'd manage 4 - 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Good times, good times.

There are some tight month end reporting deadlines, which must be met because they go all the way up to the Board. The 3rd business day of each month, I have a set in stone deadline at 2:00 PM to have all the expense data for the prior month ready to go. At the time, Cranky was in charge of compiling that reporting, so I had to submit all my work to her by the deadline. Typically, the report compilation would take 3 - 4 hours, with a series of questions regarding unusual items or potentially missing data. No one was allowed to leave until the question period was over and the reports submitted, which often led to leaving at or after 6:00 PM on those days.

Going into my 4th month of employment, I was now entering & posting the 1,000+ invoices per month all on my own. And with a 98%+ accuracy rate, which meant very few corrections were needed.

Coming up on the 3rd day of the month deadline, I was in the middle of one of my bad insomnia periods. Realizing at 3:30 AM that I was unlikely to get to sleep, I decided to head to the office. Our facility is staffed 24/7, so there were no alarms or anything, and I had a key to the office. I checked in with Security, so they wouldn't freak out at lights & activity in my office at that time of day, and then got to work.

I worked through breakfast & lunch, up to 1:30 PM, and had everything I needed done well before the 2:00 PM deadline. I then went into ABL's office, explained when I had arrived & why, and told her I needed to go home sick for the rest of the work day because I could barely focus my eyes and I really felt a crash (of my body) coming on. She was kind of freaked that I came to work at all - she did verify with Security when I arrived - and then told me that I could, of course, go home and to take the next day off if I needed it. I assured her I would probably be in and that if she or Cranky had questions on the reporting, they could call me at home.

I went back to my desk, grabbed my bag & stuff, and logged out. As I was about to leave, ABL announced to the office I had permission to leave sick and would be available by phone.

Cranky Bungler on the nature of teamwork - version 1:

Cranky came running around the edge of the cubicles to see me as I was trying to leave.

CB: You're leaving? But it is <report> day!

Me: Yes, I know. I already uploaded <data file> for you and you can call me at home with any questions; I should get there in about half an hour.

CB: I'm not sure you're taking this job seriously. <Report> is a team effort. If you have to suffer a little bit to make the team succeeds, that is the nature of teamwork. It's your job to get me the numbers! And what if I have questions?!?

Me: *exhausted, bleary-eyed, and sick of this crap* I just told you the data is there and you can call with questions. I'm going home sick, I don't have to justify it, ABL already approved. *insert sound of door not slamming because stupid door closer, or else I'd have slammed the door as hard as I could*

I heard after the fact that CB went on a rant to everyone else how I clearly didn't understand teamwork and how was <report> going to get done without my part of it?

ABL called me on my cellphone about 5 minutes later to apologize to me for CB's comments, after she learned what happened. I informed her it was not her place apologize for CB, but that she should speak to HR about CB because teamwork also means covering for each other when someone is sick. And I had already put in a 9 hour day, got in my part of the report, and was available for questions so CB was making a giant deal out of nothing at all.

Old 08-20-2016, 04:50 AM
Gerrinson Gerrinson is offline
Accounts Payable/IT Helpdesk
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 1,104

Right, so I've covered off that we had a 3rd day of the month deadline. We also have deadlines on the 10th and 13th days of each month. The 13th day deadline is for the final reports for the prior month, covering everyone's entries, updates, changes, accruals, etc. We produce 1 report for the entire company and 2 reports per department - roughly 80 reports a month, baseline. Plus any custom reports that are requested on top of it.

Now, each of the 6 people in our team sits in a cube and has their share of departments to review in detail and make corrections or adjustments if anything looks wrong. Sometimes that also means researching it to be sure there's an actual error, etc. This takes time, effort, and really requires a lot of knowledge about the company as a whole, so you truly understand what you're reviewing.

Cranky Bungler on teamwork - version 2: This occurs 10 days after I went home sick, as detailed in my prior post. Coming into the final day for reviewing, correcting, etc. CB show up then almost immediately declared she was going home sick - due to back pain - and that she hadn't had time to do 'aaaaaaaany' of her reviews, so she assigned them to the rest of us on her way out.

At this point, Foreign Coworker (another cube-mate enters the story arena!) pointed out that we didn't know CB's detail department info as well as she did, so CB should double check the next time she comes in.

CB: FC, this reporting is a team effort. When one member of the team is sick, everyone else has to pick up the slack to cover for them and make sure sick person can relax and get better!

Me: Huh, far cry from what you said on <3rd of the month report> day.

CB: What is that supposed to mean? You were sick, you went home, we covered your work. You sound ungrateful and spiteful. That really hurts my feelings. It's offensive, really, after the way we slaved so hard to get your work done for you!

FC: *FC's jaw just kept dropping further and further as she's shaking her head no and miming choking CB; she was behind CB so I could see her and CB could not.*

Me: I turned in everything before I left, the only thing you 'covered' *yes, I did air quotes* was not calling me with questions while I tried to get some sleep. Which I deeply appreciate, but I would gladly have taken a call if you needed me to provide any answers.

CB: Hmmmph. *exit, office door*

FC: I cannot believe she would say that! After the way she treated you? *again mimes choking CB while we shake our heads and get back to extra work*

For the record, ABL heard the entire thing and told me she'd have another chat with CB about the meaning of teamwork.

Old 08-20-2016, 05:23 AM
Gerrinson Gerrinson is offline
Accounts Payable/IT Helpdesk
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 1,104

One last short update for tonight!

The next few months went fairly smooth, all things considered, except for CB freaking out on deadline days. She would go cube to cube making sure everyone else was aware of the day's deadline. As if we didn't all have it in our calendars or discuss the upcoming deadlines during our weekly staff meetings. At one point, she made the rounds 'reminding' everyone 5 times between 10:00 AM and 12:00 PM. Apparently just in case we all had severe head trauma causing memory loss?

At this point, I've been there for long enough to have a week of vacation accrued. Woo! And I got permission to take some time between deadlines, even though it is normally not allowed. Double woo! CB may have muttered something along the lines of 'teacher's pet' but at this point, I had written her off as not worth trying to impress. In fact, trolling CB was becoming a bit of a past time for FC & I.

We also had a volunteer worker in our office, who I shall dub Sweet Volunteer. SV was old enough to be my grandmother. She was very nice, looked out for us, brought us pastries & candy, and she had no tolerance for CB's shenanigans. Needless to say, SV & I got along really well.

So, I went on vacation and came back, having been out for a full week plus two weekends. When I got back, one of my other cube-mates had been fired! Sadly, not CB. The woman who was let go had suffered a major injury that caused permanent brain damage some years back. She reached the point where her work was just a mess and she kept getting worse instead of better. Not a fun situation, and letting her go was tough on ABL because there were a lot of feels.

Also, during that same vacation, a new guy had been hired to replace the woman who was fired. Talk about making my head spin! We'll call him Quiet Guy, since that was really the one noticeable thing about him for months. I guess I could him Quite Reliable Competent Effective Guy, but that's a big acronym to remember!

I felt really bad for Quiet Guy - CB was assigned not just to teach him his job, but also as his direct report supervisor. *twitch* I also found quite a bit of her conversations with him to be the opposite of with me - flirtatious bordering on harassment. She was just a little bit younger than his mother and the whole thing came across as just icky to me. Granted, I'm a bit biased on this one.

The last big thing that happened while I was out was reported to me by SV: She mentioned to me what while I was out, Cranky had taken the opportunity to sit at my desk and rifle through every file & folder on or in my desk. Excluding the locked drawer which contained the corporate credit cards & petty cash box - another of my duties. I presume that was skipped solely because CB didn't have a key.

I asked SV to mention this to ABL, as I didn't witness it, and it would be hearsay coming from me. ABL shuddered at the thought of someone doing that to her desk - she called it a violation. I learned later that CB defended it as 'making sure nothing was overlooked' during my vacation and ABL let it slide.

Of course, knowing how CB acted, I predicted she would do it the next time I had time off. And since I was going to accrue almost another full week of vacation, I planned some trollification for the next time.

I scanned a bunch of vendor statements before my next vacation, just a couple months later. I emailed those scans to my home email address. I then photoshopped them to make it look like we were well in arrears and created some massive variances between the statements and the official record. I sent the fake statements back to myself, printed them up, and hid them in an innocuous folder stashed in the back corner of my desk organizer. Where only someone making a needlessly thorough search of my desk would find them.

After I got back from the next vacation, SV told me CB had rifled my desk (again) and took a folder from it. I checked my desk and the only thing missing was the folder of fake statements. I casually went into ABL's office and asked her if I missed anything important. She mentioned CB had found some weird vendor statements 'in the mail' while I was out, but when they followed up on the big past due amount showing, all of the accounts were up to date with no issues. ABL blamed it on bad record keeping by the vendors and said everything I had on our end looked fine. CB didn't look at or speak to me for several days after my return. Bliss!

ETA: I never mentioned to anyone in the office that I did that until last year, when I told FC about it while we were the only 2 people in the office. She remembered Cranky going on a rant about how I wasn't paying bills and then calling a bunch of vendors during my vacation, only to find out everything was just fine. It was only when I told her about the setup that FC realized the statements were fake all along. She had a great laugh at it.

Old 08-21-2016, 04:25 PM
Gerrinson Gerrinson is offline
Accounts Payable/IT Helpdesk
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 1,104

Regarding firing/not firing CB - She had been there for several years with no official complaints and all appearances of work getting done and done right. I may have been a squeaky wheel, but not enough to cause someone with that record to be on the chopping block. I presume ABL viewed it as just a rough beginning that would smooth itself out. Also, with the addition of Quiet Guy, CB's focus moved away from my area entirely, which worked for me. Over the rest of the year, I came to learn just what I could expect from CB as a coworker.

A few more examples of the kind of coworker Cranky was:

Temperature wars: Cranky Bungler was always cold. In fact, the only time I ever heard happy with the temperature outdoors was when we had a hot, humid week with temps in the mid to high 90's. That was the first time she didn't need to wear a sweater outdoors. Of course, the reason the rest of us were so hot when she was comfortable was because there was something wrong with us. I learned, during this time, the only place she ever lived that was 'comfortable' to her was Atlanta, GA. In the summertime.

This led to CB often turning the office HVAC unit over to high heat in mid-summer, when she could get away with no one else looking. I, of course, am one of the hot people and at a temp of 75 or higher, I start sweating bullets. One more conflict that was constant. ABL settled it by setting the HVAC to 73 and saying leave it. That lasted all of 20 minutes...

Always ask, ALWAYS!: CB attended a professional training seminar, where the one note she seems to have absorbed is that, at the end of meetings it will improve your boss's perception of you if you ask an insightful question. CB's translation of this was 'always ask questions at the end of meetings!!!' We could not have a staff meeting end early, CB always had to drag them out with 1 - 5 extra, and often unneeded questions. Not always, every now and again, she actually had something useful to add. Sad as it is to admit to that. This progressed from our dept. staff meetings to actual all staff meetings, where she had to take the microphone and ask questions that would hold up the end of a meeting for 300+ other people. It really decreased her overall popularity with the rest of the company, though she thought the opposite.

Someone made a MISTAKE: She took it upon herself to dig into everyone else's work looking for mistakes. And then, she would first report the mistake to ABL. ABL's response was pretty much always 'I don't need to see this, just give it to X and have them fix it.'

Then CB would go about telling whoever the mistake what was wrong, how they should have done it, when it needed it to be fixed by (NAO!), etc. And all in a higher-than-normal pitched voice with a smirk she seemed to think was a smile. That voice was like nails on a chalkboard to me. Generally, she presented every mistake as if you were a first grader who didn't know the difference between 'kat' and 'cat'. A lot of my errors were simple typos - transposing a couple digits or keying an $100.95 instead of $100.98 and missing the goof when posting. Nothing earth-shattering, but always a BIG DEAL, for some reason.

In this same time period, Cranky accidentally posted an entry the wrong way - she entered a decrease as an increase. This mistake wound up going to auditors that way and was also reported to both the Board and the IRS the wrong way. It was eventually found and fixed and required a corrected IRS filing. We wound up overstating our income to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Oops. This mistake alone, along with the reporting ramifications, was far more than everyone else's mistakes combined. CB brushed it off as 'Well, it got fixed, so no big deal.'

Then my one year anniversary rolled around and a huge, horrible, terrible, no good thing happened...

...in my next post.

Old 08-21-2016, 09:44 PM
Gerrinson Gerrinson is offline
Accounts Payable/IT Helpdesk
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 1,104

So, where was I? Oh, yes, the horrible, terrible, no good thing that happened on my one year anniversary. I lost my job & title...by getting promoted. ABL reinstated a former position that had been let go, and terminated the volunteer position to give me a desk. Then my new position was made supervisor of my old position and I got help interview replacements. Which meant there were now two supervisors in my dept. - CB & myself. You can see how this would be terrible from her perspective.

The pot is stirred: About three months after I got promoted and a replacement had been hired for my old job, we sort-of got annual reviews. There was not any sort of formal review process in place, though ABL tried to institute one in our department. Part of that was to interview everyone regarding how they thought their role was working, how the team was functioning, known issues, etc. After the interviews, ABL wrote up her own reviews and combined all the data to then have individual performance reviews with each person.

My review went fine until:

ABL: So, you've met all the goals that you were assigned, finished on-boarding the New Clerk, and I'm going to be moving some more responsibilities your way. However, I did receive a series of complaints about your behavior. It seems since you became a supervisor you've been giving orders to all of the other staff; you only supervise New Clerk and no one else, so we'll need to address this problem.

Me: I really don't feel I'm doing that. I did give Quiet Guy a correction to do the other day, and maybe it sort of came out phrased as an order rather than a request, but it was his entry that was incorrect and needed to be fixed so that really is his job. I'm not familiar with the pieces of it or I would have done it myself. Beyond that, I really can't think of anytime I've ordered anyone to do anything, outside of assignments to New Clerk.

ABL: Well, I've heard everyone else has this complaint about you, so something must be going on.

Me: Okay, can you give me some specific examples so we can review those situations from my perspective?

ABL: *open mouth* I...don't actually have any examples.

Me: Okay, how about you get examples from everyone and we'll schedule a new meeting to review? Maybe have the whole group together so we can address it.

ABL: Would you really be comfortable with that?

Me: I honestly don't think I've done anything wrong, but I'll listen to their complaints. Maybe it's just a case of bad phrasing on my part like saying 'Hey, this needs to be fixed' instead of 'Can you please fix this?' or something like that. If it is a problem for everyone, I'll work on it.

ABL: Great, I'll speak to everyone else. And thank you for being so open to criticism.

Me: If the complaints are valid and I'm actually doing it, then it needs to be fixed. That's the way this works.

To sum it up, ABL had only heard the complaint from one person, though that person specified it was 'everyone else' complaining about me. Care to guess who complained? Go on, try it. Bet you can't get it in one try. I didn't find out until later, so things were pretty tense and I was basically walking on eggshells.

So, after several weeks, ABL still had not scheduled a meeting with the whole team to address this. So I scheduled a meeting with her and revisited the topic. She apologized for ever mentioning it and said it was clearly not that I was doing anything wrong.

Foreign Coworker clued me in on it later, it seems Cranky felt that I was ordering everyone else around (projecting much?) and complained on their behalf. When ABL investigated, she discovered CB was the only person that felt that way. And when CB was confronted by ABL, she couldn't produce even a single actual example of me ordering around anyone but New Clerk.

In this time, New Clerk and Cranky had starting hanging out at work and outside of work. I wasn't too happy about it, but there's nothing I could actually do - not like I could order her to avoid Cranky. I didn't trust it, but then, I had a good sense that CB was trying to undermine me. Don't know why, must have been paranoia.


Quoth greek_jester View Post
You, you, you...! Aaargh!!! I have to be up early for work tomorrow!
Oh, please, you had to wait all of 5 minutes for my post to come out. You posted while I was writing it, for crying out loud.

Old 08-21-2016, 10:03 PM
Gerrinson Gerrinson is offline
Accounts Payable/IT Helpdesk
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 1,104

Right, so, there I was supervising and taking on new tasks. A bunch of the tasks new to me were transferred over from none other than Cranky Bungler. She frequently complained of having too much work for one person and she had come in early, stay late, work from home, etc. to meet goals. You would think moving tasks to someone else would be a welcome event.

So, the first time we met to discuss new tasks, she described them but wouldn't actually open any of the files or show them to me besides a general location such as 'it's on <network drive A> or <network drive B>' So helpful! Then, when I asked her to email me a link to a spreadsheet, she walked over to my desk five minutes later and dropped a sheet of paper on it. The paper had a block of numbers - 20 rows, 10 columns, no titles, headers, or words - just pure numbers.

Me: Uh, Cranky, what exactly is this?

CB: That's the spreadsheet you asked for.

Me: I asked you to email me a link to the file, so I could open it in Excel?

CB: Well, those are the numbers. The first and fourth columns are where you enter the date from <vendor report> and then the rest are formulas that calculate it out. You'll need to do this every month.

Me: Um, yeah, but to do that I need the report. Plus I can't see what the formulas do. Also there are not titles, I have no idea what any of these numbers mean without titles. *waves sheet of paper*

CB: Ugh! It's right there, you can see it calculates based on these and you get those. *vaguely waves hand at paper* I thought you were smart about Excel, but I guess you just don't get it. *walks away*


I muttered some not nice words under my breath. At which point the person from the cube opposite me, Report Queen, came over and pulled me out of the office. Seems she has ears like a hawk and actually heard what I said. She reminded me that I needed to express to CB exactly what I wanted and how I wanted it communicated - verbally, paper, email, etc. This was the focus of a previous staff meeting. So I explained to RQ that I asked for an email with a link to the file. RQ nods. And what I got was this sheet of paper. RQ looked it over, her eyes went wide, and she told me to go to my cube while she spoke to ABL. She took the paper with her.

About 10 minutes later, CB gets called into ABL's office. I heard only one outburst, which was from CB, it was loud enough the whole office heard through ABL's door: "It's not my fault that he just doesn't understand spreadsheets."

20 minutes after that, I get a flood of emails from CB with links to all the files I need for all the tasks I was taking over from her. No words were said and she avoided me for several days after.

A small side note re: spreadsheets - I used to teach Excel at the local college to employees of local corporations. That was on my resume and the guy who oversaw the program was one of my references. And after being hired, I had taught ABL how to use pivot tables and HLOOKUPS (everyone uses VLOOKUP, but HLOOKUP is equally powerful). So trying to throw me under the bus for 'not understanding Excel' was a massive mistake.

The fail train continues: Quite a few of the tasks I took over in the new position were reconciliations of one sort or another. Just making sure our entry A, matches source document B, and possibly statement C. A = B = C = happy accountants!

So, I took over a series of tasks from Cranky Bungler that, in her words, took 2 full business days to complete. Her method of reconciling the reports and spreadsheets was to print everything out onto paper, line them up side by side, then go down the pages with a ruler checking off each item in each column.

It turns my stomach just to have typed out that process.

I'm a 'work smarter, not harder' kind of guy, whenever possible, and I have a strong grasp of Excel and a weak grasp of VBA for Excel. Good enough that I automated the comparisons by exporting/downloading the various reports as spreadsheets. Dump in our data, dump in the other data, click on the tab for the comparisons. Then I just skim it for cells stating ERROR and filled in with red. Quick, easy, simple. And those '2 business days' were cut down to about 30 minutes unless I had to make correcting entries.

We used a shared set of tasks, where you mark it complete and anyone following the task gets notified it is done. ABL was in on all the tasks. And the original people who had handed tasks to me were also notified, as ABL wanted my work checked for the first couple months to make sure everything was going smoothly. I was totally fine with that.

Coming into mid-day of the first day I was doing all of these by myself, and all of my improvements were in place. I didn't actually check off my tasks until just before lunch. At which point I checked off what was 2 days worth of tasks for CB, a previously 1 1/2 day process for FC which I cut down to 2.5 hours, and a few other things. After lunch, I was called into ABL's office.

ABL: Cranky pointed out that you checked off a long list of tasks that normally take nearly a week to complete. It's only the first day. These are important and you cannot just spot check, so I need to be sure they're done right.

Me: Oh, they're done right. I just updated the process to an automated spreadsheet with a couple of macros. Let me show you.

*I showed off my work to ABL and basically blew her mind with my efficiency*

ABL: Oh my God! I'm so giving you some of my stuff to work on. Can you do this for some of my reports?

Me: Probably.

After I left ABL's office, CB felt the need to add commentary as I walked past her cube.

CB: Uh oh, looks like someone took a few too many shortcuts. *smarmy smile*

Me: Yeah, I'm way too good at my job for my own good. ABL just assigned me to make some of her reports to update, the same way I fixed your process so I can do 2 days of your work in 30 minutes. *smiling right back*

CB just stood up and rushed into ABL's office. FC high-fived me on the way back to my desk. It was a good day to calculate.

Despite mutterings, CB couldn't find a single mistake in my final product. She even spent the time to do her old process only to find I was right. #Winning
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