Posted by Jonathan
Probably, like the curate’s egg, parts of it are excellent. I mean, I’m sure he’s very persuasive with the customers and makes them place orders for a load of flanges and associated industrial goods, and other exciting things that the company we both work for deal in. And I daresay he’s excellent at other things salespeople traditionally excel at, such as driving his company-issue Ford Sierra down the middle lane of the motorway at 65mph, making useful contacts on the golf course, and braying loudly into his mobile phone while striding self-importantly around the office. They send salespeople on training courses to teach them this sort of stuff, you know. So I’m sure those parts of our up-and-coming sales rep Dave Pearson’s performance are entirely up to scratch. Excellent, in fact.
But I don’t care. I’m only a lowly sales office clerk, you see, so really it doesn’t matter to me and my ilk how many flanges Dave Pearson sells- it’s not like I’m on commission or anything. No, all we lowly clerks care about is that the sales reps send us in their paperwork on time, so that when the customers’ orders come into the office they are nice and easy to put on. Ideally in fact we would like to get all our work done by lunchtime, so that we can spend the rest of our 9-5 life engaged in interesting and constructive behaviour, like writing on our weblogs (and sometimes on other people’s). The sales reps we like are the ones who give us no bother, do their paperwork on time, and if they manage to sell some flanges along the way, well all well and good. I suppose they need to sell a few, just enough to keep us all in a job. Ultimately all we ask for is an easy life.
But guess what- Dave Pearson, the sales rep assigned to me in my new department, is not the sort of sales guy who gives you an easy life. Quite the opposite- he sells a great amount of flanges, causing unholy amounts of customer orders to come piling on to my desk out of the fax machine at all hours of the day. But because he hasn’t done his paperwork these orders become untidy and time-consuming to process. Hell, sometimes I even have to resort to ringing up the customers and talking to them in order to see what they want! Is this why I embarked on a career in customer service? Is it heckers like, as they used to say on Coronation Street. I entered a career in customer service because it seemed a whole damn lot easier than secondary school teaching, which is what I did before. And I stayed (embarrassing as it may be to admit) for the money (which is not bad, considering) and for the skiving opportunities (which are ample, or at least they are when they give you a salesperson who will play ball, Goddamit).
So anyway, I decided to confront Dave Pearson about his missing paperwork. Well not literally, as this would involve hanging around on a golf course somewhere, or standing in the middle lane of the M62 and waiting for him coming along in his Ford Sierra. Instead I sent him an email. Quite a friendly one, along the lines of ‘hi there Dave, if you have the time maybe you could send me in these prices I had asked for’. But of course I didn’t get an answer, so I sent another one, slightly more abrupt-and still heard nothing. And so I sent a third, really quite abrupt this time to the point of almost rudeness. ‘Dave- I really need a reply now. Please respond..’- this time copying in his boss. This one got a response, in the form of a phone call.
And of course Dave was the very soul of contrition. ‘Oh Jonathan, I’m so sorry- I’ve really let you down here. Look, I promise I’ll get the thing across to you start of play tomorrow, and you can do what you have to do, mate’. Well all right then, that’s more like it, I thought. Only the next day came and there was nothing. Then the day after that, and the day after that. This, I began to think- is getting beyond a joke. This bloke is just taking the piss.
I suppose at this stage I should have just rang with a gentle reminder. Maybe took the piss myself a bit. ‘Hey Dave, I know you’re probably busy at the 19th hole there, but if you could just get those prices across I might be able to get on with my damn job here….’ That would probably have done the trick. But the day in question I was feeling tired (I had been up half the night writing consequences post number 15, if you must know) and, well, just maybe a trifle ratty and irrational. So I didn’t ring up, I emailed again. And copied in his boss again. As well as his boss’s boss, and my immediate manager, just for good measure. And also the bloke who sits next to me- I can’t even remember why, I was having an attack of self-righteous office rage and I wanted everyone to know about it.
Needless to say this fourth missive was couched in the least measured terms you can possibly imagine. ‘Dave, despite your promises of last week I have still not received this information. You certainly don’t need me to tell you we do not need to give this customer any excuses not to pay their invoices. Your immediate response is required. Regards, Jonathan’.
Within minutes I got a written reply. A very short one. Terse would be more the word. ‘Prices attached. Hope you didn’t miss anyone off your copy list. Dave’.
That was a couple of days ago now- but the thing is this: I just can’t get this short but sharp rebuke out of my head. I will be washing the dishes or something and it will re-emerge- ‘hope you didnt miss anyone off your copy list’.
Damn I’ve really upset him, haven’t I? And he’s not a bad bloke really, big City fan and all. And now I’ve made him an enemy. And workplaces are awful, gossipy environments in which enmity can fester, as we all know. So soon I’m into full neurotic overdrive. ‘Oh dear God, he’s going to have it in for me now and probably all the rest of them will join in- oh what the hell have I done? No, it’s no good, I’m just going to have to hand my notice in and be done with it. It’s the dole office for me on Monday for sure- or back to the teaching lark. Oh, God in heaven help me!’
Oh I’m probably making too much of it all, I know. Cheerful Dave Pearson himself has probably forgotten about his own angry email already. But I still wish I had just picked the damn phone up. I’m supposed to just want an easy life, as I think I was just saying. So why do I have to make things so damn difficult for myself?