Dancing to Dirges

Depressing and happy things Tim says, sometimes while drunk

Monday, April 14, 2008

Things happen all at once. But that's not what catches your attention.

Such a weird weekend. So many things going on. Where to start? Friday? Probably Friday.

I'm kind of a moralist. Not in that creepy "I condemn you because you have sinned against gawd" sort of way, but in a more general humanist way. Honesty. Don't fuck people over. Don't hurt the people you care about. (You'll notice I don't have any problem hurting people who have earned hurting. Murky ground.) But honesty is the big one for me.

At work, if a mistake occurs my highest priority is to figure out what went wrong, inform the client of the mistake and what steps are being taken to correct it, and then find out what amends we as a company (or I as an individual) need to make for everything to be alright. I want my clients to trust me. This works mostly because I do a good job, and so I rarely have to go to my clients with trouble.

That hasn't been happening as much. Management has changed the conversation from "What can we do to make this right with our client" to "What do we do to keep from getting in trouble with our clients." Initially, that's not a bad thing. The best way to not get in trouble with people is to tell them the truth, and don't screw up. Unfortunately, we screw up a lot. So now we're talking about how we keep people from finding out we screwed up, which specific lie we're going to spin to keep them happy, so forth. So on. I've been generally unhappy with this change in tack, but I figured I could hang on until something else came along.

Enter Friday. We do this thing for some clients where we do mailing for 32 cents a piece. It includes data, printing, stock, presorting and postage. We make our money by sending it presort standard (bulk rate, but that word is aggressively not used in the direct mail industry) but the margin is still pretty thin. It's all about quantity. On Friday something got screwed up. One of these jobs got processed at presort first class rates, so that the postage alone was going to be more than we charged for the job. The pieces were on the truck. What do you do? Two choices:

1) You pull the job, reprocess the paperwork for the correct rate, manually re-tray according to the new sort and put it back on the truck. Probably thirty minutes of manual labor. or!

2) You shelve half the job, only mail out enough so that you're still making your expected profit and just tell the client the whole thing mailed. There is nothing more dishonest that a direct mail house could do. Nothing.

You wanna guess which thing happened? Right. I had real trouble not quitting immediately. I'm too responsible, and I'm the insurance and steady paycheck for the family. But I won't be here much longer. It doesn't matter what they change. The fact that they considered that option was reprehensible. The fact that they carried through on it is unforgivable.

And then! My god, can you believe that there's more to this story? Then, at 4:30 one of my bosses sent email to *some* of us in the office that we needed to have a meeting at 5. Then they fired two people. I have mixed feelings about this. Those people needed to be fired. But you can't pretend to fire one person because they're a complete fuck up and not fire your best friend even though he's a complete fuck up. Go ahead, try to pretend that you're making the company better. Fundamental flaws are, well, fundamental. And they announced that we had hired a CSR from one of our clients. Also? She's going to be bringing us a lot of her clients from her last job.

Me: "She's bringing clients? Is that legal?"
Boss: "Stammer, stammer, she doesn't have a non-compete, but she signed a confidentiality agreement..."
otherboss: "Stammer, we've had three lawyers look at it...stammer...we're sure it'll work out."

So. Anything you have to have three different lawyers look over? Seriously? Maybe it's legal, but it's probably not cool. You dig?

After that, of course, my whole weekend was up up up. An old childhood friend of mine happened to randomly be in town, so we had dinner. It was a great time. It was exactly what I needed, in every way. It reminded me why I missed having friends close by. So yeah. That was spectacular.

Saturday was great, also. There was a big Warhammer/40k tournament downtown, and the North American Sales Manager for Black Library, Vince Rospond, was going to be there. BL is the mothership of my imprint, Solaris, and the fact that the two are related is what got me interested in Solaris in the first place. I'm an old time 40k player, and have always had an eye on media-related writing. What's that thing we call it? Ah, yes, steady work. And it's in a universe that I know and love. So I spent most of the day hanging out with that crew, got to meet Graham McNeill, had a truly transcendental steak dinner, then rolled home quite happily. Considering my entire plan going in was 1) convince BL that I was a decent person, and passingly competent and then 2) beg them to let me submit a proposal for a book, the fact that one of the first things Vince asked me was "So, would you like to make a pitch sometime?" I'd say things worked out pretty well with me. Seriously, it was an amazing time, the BL and GW people are some of the nicest on earth, and I hope hope hope they like the stuff I'm working up. I spent a while talking about what specifically they'd be interested in, so I'm feeling pretty good.

Sunday was just hanging around the house, spending time with my wife and painting a little. So this is the first week I haven't quite made a chapter. I'm okay with that. Everything's going to be okay.

Today, new person started. She's sitting across the hall, calling all her old clients and trying to get the to work with us. I don't know what the bosses are expecting, but almost all of them have asked who their new contact is at the her old company. So yeah. Awesome.

And anytime you have to end your sales pitch with "Yeah, and we're trying to keep this on the down low, so maybe don't tell anyone at (old company name) that I contacted you? Great?" you're probably doing something wrong. Just saying. And what are the odds that *none* of them will mention it to their new rep at (old company name)? Honestly?

I'm sure this is going to end well. Hopefully, once it's no longer my problem.

And if you read all this, you care too much about the minutia of my life. Seriously, get a hobby. Write a book. I'm not that interesting.


At 1:35 PM , Blogger colin said...

Ha, I scrolled down and read the last line first. I may still go back and read it later, though.

At 7:53 PM , Blogger Splitcoil said...

I'm the sucker who read the whole thing. Because I'm putting off working out, dammit.

But it's a good story. The best part is that it's dysfunction affecting someone else, not me, for a change. Ha ha! I mean that in a very supportive way. It's a motivational "Ha ha!".

I'm glad I don't work in a sector where people's ethical shortcomings sometimes have negative fallout for others!!!! Whew! Bullet dodged!


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