Monday, May 7, 2012

Going Down With The Ship

For those of you anxiously waiting to hear about the outcome of my epic battle with Tony and Mrs. Tony yesterday, the exciting conclusion will be the topic of a blog post later this week. And shockingly, yes, someone did actually ask about it!  See how I build suspense and keep people coming back for more? It's like a "to be continued" cliffhanger from your favorite TV drama.  This strategy is precisely what builds and maintains my loyal fan base...or threatens to drive away my sparse or the other...

Unfortunately, I'm too mentally exhausted this evening to give tennis the blogging attention that it deserves.  I'm left with just enough energy to complain a little more about work!  The dreaded presentation went fairly well this morning--as well as could be expected for a presentation based on outdated, irrelevant information.  But there was one problem--while the overall budget wasn't unreasonably high, one of the business units within the division saw costs go up more than expected.  I knew that would get plenty of attention, and as always, I was exactly right.

During the meeting, the director for that business unit said that he would need to understand in detail what was causing the costs to go up.  I'd fully expected that question and started working on that immediately when I got to the office this morning....but it was going to take some time, so I told him I'd be working on answering that question over the next few days.  But after the meeting, I started getting bombarded with phone calls and emails from other coworkers who support that business unit, explaining that they had just seen a copy of the presentation and asking me what was causing the increase in COGS.  Having the exact same conversation with thirty-eight different people at five-minute intervals was a major obstacle between me and the work necessary to answer the question.

"Why are costs up?"
"I working on figuring that out right now."
"When will you have an answer?"
"As soon as I stop having this conversation twelve times every hour."

Would it have been appropriate to award a prize to the hundredth caller?  I wanted to send a mass email to the company distribution list with one message in the subject line: "I'm working on it!!!"

Once everyone in the business unit had taken their shot at me and the messages finally started to die down, details of the long-feared budget re-work began to roll in.  Again, I knew it was coming, but that didn't make it any less painful.  Around 2:30PM, emails started hitting my inbox with lists of mandatory changes that we needed to make by the end of the day.  Then it was into the Excel jungle.  Once everything was updated, another message would show up, "there's been one small adjustment, please use this version."  Back to Excel, re-working the rework.  Another email: "this is the final, final version--use these numbers."  Back to the spreadsheets.

This continued through the end of the day.  It was one of those afternoons where you find yourself sitting a cubicle, churning through mindless and unnecessary rework, wearing a captain's hat and wondering how fast you'd need to run to successfully break through the glass on the fourth-floor windows:

I'm most proud of the fact that I left the office before 4:45PM.  By the time "final" budget revision version number three came through and I had worked my Excel wizardry, I jumped ship before they could make any more changes.  I don't doubt that versions four, five, and maybe six are sitting in my inbox, but I can't work on something I haven't far as I know, I met the deadline.  Ignorance is bliss...

But the voyage will continue tomorrow, I'm sure.  And don't let the attire fool you, this is no cruise...well, it might be a little like the Costa Concordia below.  Regardless, I promise to write about a new topic tomorrow, and results of that tennis match will be forthcoming shortly.  As one reader pointed out, there's been way too much writing about office work lately for a blog titled Away From The Cubicle...

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