Friday, 27 March 2009


Totally out of the blue.

The Boss : "They're all hitting a ret.. a rest."

Here's me : "Wha?"

The Boss : "They're hitting a fuel restoration charge."

Here's me : "Who?"

The Boss : "All of them."

Here's me : "?"

The Boss : "To mushrooms"*

How much more lost than lost can I get right now?

The Boss : "To Muscat. "

Here's me : "Muscat? Oman?"

The Boss : "Musk, Moscow. Musko... Rotterdam."

This is a staggering level of bewilderfication, even for in here. I am totally clueless as to what might be taking place and the disjointed manner in which The Boss is talking is right now very reminiscent of GWB at his absolute worst.

Here's me : "Look, what are you actually talking about?"

The Boss : "Fuel surcharge. On Rotterdam."

Here's me : "What about it?"

The Boss : "From Rotterdam."

Here's me : "Wha?"

I swear I am so close to actual tears right now.

The Boss : "Is there one?"

Here's me : "I.. what?"

The Boss : "Is there a fuel surcharge from Rotterdam to Russia?"

Part of me right now wants to drive my fist right through the monitor in front of me. Right goddamn through it, y'hear me?

Here's me : "I really don't know. Possibly. Would you like me to find out?"

The Boss : "Noooooooo....... just find out where Moskva is."

Here's me : "Moscow."

The Boss : "It's in Moscow?"

Here's me : "No, it is Moscow."

The Boss : "But where's Moskva?"

(deep breath, count to ten slowly)

Here's me : "Moskva is Moscow. It's what the Russians call Moscow."

The Boss : "Why?"

Here's me : "-"

The Boss : "Anyway. What do you want for lunch?"

This last is frankly more terrifying than all of the rest of this deformed and deranged conversation, mostly because it's now 2 pm and we had lunch about half an hour ago.
* The Boss had mushroom soup. I'm starting to understand how this works, a little. If I pretend I've taken a heavy dose of LSD it all makes a certain amount of sense.

Who Am You?

They're coming thick and fast today.

The Boss : "Martin might call in this afternoon."

Here's me : "Martin who?"

The Boss : "Martin Mark."

Here's me : "Martin Mark?"

The Boss : "Mark McCloskey"

Here's me : "Who's he?"

The Boss : "Martin Doyle"

Here's me : "Wha?"

You Shot Who In The What Now?

The Boss : "Would you ring Pavel on the motorbike?"

Here's me : "Wha??"

The Boss : "Would you ring Pavel on the mobile?"

Down With This Sort of Thing

The Boss : "Where's Honkey-joke?"

Here's me : "Er... dunno, what's the punchline?"

The Boss : "Honky-jokey?"

Here's me : "Um... Honkajoki? Finland?"

The Boss : "No, it's in Denmark. I thought you knew everything."

That's a blood-boiler right there. I hear that phrase a couple of times a week, any time I don't know the answer to some nonsense question. It appears that I give the impression of being A Smartarse. This is probably because I am usually right. No, no shit, I am. I have a habit of not opening my mouth at all until I think and/or seek information, and of not just saying the first random-asspiss-thought that comes to mind, which means that in here, I'm quite often correct. This is plainly causing a lot of irritation. Perhaps I should blurt out inanities more often, in order to be accepted or something.

So anyway I go and read what's on The Boss's screen and it's "Havkajak", which is indeed in Denmark. I don't know for certain how it's pronounced but if it's enunciated "Honkey-Jokey" I'll actually fry and eat my own member.

Get That Ship On The Ink

I'm feeling rather tired, shitty and under the weather this week, which makes this kind of lunacy all the harder to deal with. The essence of this story is that I have a shipment to Nigeria being held by Customs because it contains, apparently, televisions; these cannot be moved without a licence and so it's going nowhere for now.

I could happily just leave it at that but The Boss has just plonked herself in front of my desk and starting reading ten pages of Nigerian Import Regulations aloud at me; this is painful in so many ways. For starters, The Boss reading aloud sounds a little like a drunken alphabet falling down a flight of stairs. Following the information is completely out of the question, I'm just trying to get through listening without ramming my head violently against the desk.

Sounds like this, in real-time. The original document did contain punctuation.

"Import licences are not recommended no required but a shipment no a system of pre-shipment inspection is in operation all imports must accompany must be accompanied by a manufacturers certificate confirming no controlling no confirming the standards used in the production of the goods following imports are banned maize sorghum millet wheat flour vegetable oils gypsum mosquitos repellents tyres gaming machine used clothing fridges air conditioning compressors cement vehicles more than eight years old printed fabrics must have pre-inspection before vessel is on the water..."

Here's me : "Look... ah... could you just print me off a copy of this and I'll read it later?" (When I've finished stabbing myself in the head with a pen)

", there's no water in the printer"

What the fuck?

Thursday, 19 March 2009

The Non-Appliance Of...

So during that last episode while lingering in The Bosses territory, I noticed that at the end of every e-mail she is typing out the full e-mail signature, which is in this format :

Best Regards,

Silent Koala

Ridiculous Bastard Shipping Ltd.

None of Your Business Centre
Futility House
1 Nowhere Street
Telephone: xxxxxxxxxxx

Fax: xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

All business of the Company is transacted under the Standard Trading Conditions of the International Freight Association (IFA STC) that restrict or exclude the Company’s liability, a current edition of which is available upon request.

For real!

I was momentarily tempted to advise that it is not actually necessary to manually type this at the end of each e-mail, but... I don't want to 'blind her with science', y'see.

A Little Knowledge May Be Lethal

The Boss : "I think someone's been into my computer."

I seriously doubt it. There are only two of us working here and the chances of anyone wanting to 'hack' into your computer when you only use the thing as a typewriter and a handy block to stick post-it notes too - it seems unlikely.

Here's me : "Ahh.... hmmm... what makes you think that?"

The Boss : "It's running very slowly."

Here's me : "Give me a second, I'll come and take a look."

The Boss : "No just tell me how to fix it."

Here's me : "Well I don't know until I look at it, do I?"

The Boss : "But I don't want you to fix it for me. I want you to tell me how to do it."

Anyone who works in I.T. will probably share this immense feeling of pain that such statements engender. I sometimes wonder if the people who do this kind of thing ever take the same attitude, say, when they take their car to the mechanics. No I will not 'just tell you how' to do it, not unless you are prepared to first go on at least the most basic of PC-use courses. It is not an electronic typewriter. Kindly back the fuck off.

So anyway I danders over and has a look. I would imagine that the machine is indeed running quite slowly, as there are FIFTY-SIX incidences of Outlook running.

Here's me : "Aye, listen, you're running Outlook fifty-six times. When you want to go into it, just click on it along the bottom, as opposed to opening it from the menu again."

So I close them all with two quick clicks of the mouse, naturally.

The Boss : "You did it again! Don't just do it, tell me how you did it!"

Unbelievably, she is actually angry with me now.

Here's me : "Look, you were running Outlook fifty-six times. I just closed them."

The Boss: "But how did you do it?"

Here's me : "I right-clicked on it and hit 'close'?"

The Boss : "You're just trying to blind me with science."

Here's me, incredulously : "Wha?"

The Boss : "Don't be smart with me!"

Here's me, getting annoyed now too : "Look! You opened Outlook fifty-six times, so the machine was running slow! Just don't do it! I can't explain to you how to 'fix' it if you're not even prepared to learn how to work the bloody thing at all!"

The Boss : "Koala!"

The boss labours under the illusion that saying my name in a sharp tone somehow draws my plainly out-of-order behaviour to my attention and makes me fall into place like a good little soldier.

Deep breath.

Here's me : "Look, there's nothing wrong with it, you were just clicking in the wrong place, click here instead, that's all."

The Boss : "So does this mean someone's been in my computer?"

Thursday, 12 March 2009

She Asked Me For a Double Entendre, So I Gave Her One

OK, fair's fair and all that.

I like to be a person who exerts a good level of control over what comes out of my mouth, mainly because I am dealing endlessly with people for whom English is a second language, and feel it is my duty to make myself clearly and easily understood as much as possible - and it winds me up no end that the people I have most trouble understanding on the phone are usually people from this same country who simply can't be bothered to unfurl their tongues long enough to form complete sentences.

However a few moments ago a nice lady called me to tell me she was delivering some items to the port ('dropping' them is standard industry-speak) and so I have just uttered the phrase "No problem, I'll get right back onto you, just let me know when you're dropping them.", which I probably could have got away with if I hadn't stopped then giggled.

Coffee plz.

Take Me Away From Your Leader

The Boss : "Where's 91?"

Here's me : [sigh] "Between 90 & 92?"

The Boss : "Area 91?"

Here's me : [sigh] "Is it near Area 51?"

The Boss : "Where's Area 51?"

Here's me : "Never mind. Area 91? Area code 91, you're looking for?"

The Boss : "Yeah."

Here's me : "In what country?"

The Boss : "Any country"

Here's me : "Wha?"

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Bend It Like The Boss

Introductions to customers in a vaguely social setting :

"This is Adam, and this is Mary, Adam's brother in law".

How hard is it, honestly?

Creative Accounting - You're Doing It Wrong

This opens up with a question that taken at face value could seem quite reasonable - but I know a thing or two at this stage, and will not fall into traps like this so easily.

The Boss : "What's twelve feet in inches?"

Now the answer to that one is a straightforward 'One hundred and forty-four', and I am momentarily tempted to give it, but that would be mental suicide round here so caution is required. If in doubt, repeat the question back at the asker.

Here's me : "Twelve feet in inches?"

The Boss : "Twelve inches. How many inches in 3.12 metres?"

See what I'm saying here? But still, this doesn't seem so bad.

Here's me : "Hang on a second... " (looks up online conversion thingy) "...about ten foot three inches".

The Boss : "That can't be right".


Here's me : "I'm pretty sure it is."

The Boss : "That's not what I'm getting."

Here's me : "Alright, ten foot two-and-eight-tenth-inches?"

The Boss : "No. Three-point-twelve. Three metres is nine-feet-ten-inches, plus point-twelve is ten feet ten inches."





Here's me : "No, point-twelve metres is... " (consults online doofer again) "... about four and a half inches".

The Boss : "No, it's a foot."

I am becoming petulant now.

Here's me : "It's NOT. Twelve inches is a foot. How could twelve centimetres also be a foot?"

The Boss : "It's not twelve centimetres, it's point-twelve metres."

Here's me : "Yes! Yes! So! Now! Three metres is nine-feet-ten. Plus point-one-two metres is another four and a half inches."

The Boss : "It's not point-one-two, it's point twelve."

I'm kind of laughing a bit now despite it all, but this enrages her and forces her to drive her point home.

The Boss : "Look. Point-ONE. In between there is point-ONE-TWO. Point TWO..."..

...spoken in the manner of educating a slightly backwards and possibly deaf child, she is actually writing the numbers out on a piece of paper in an angry fashion and punctuating her speech by jabbing the pen aggressively into the page...

"..point TEN, point ELEVEN, POINT TWELVE. And twelve is a foot."

and then stops and glares at me like I'm a total idiot.

That's Carol Vorderman fucked then.

No Idea

The Boss : "Purfleet would be easier to get to than Dublin wouldn't it?"

Here's me : "Welll..... from where?"

The Boss : "From Purfleet."

An intake of breath so sharp I almost hurt myself.

Here's me : "Well, yeah, Purfleet to Purfleet is definitely easier than Purfleet to Dublin."

The Boss : "No, Purfleet to Dublin. No, Hull. Dublin to Hull. That would be easier than Dublin wouldn't it?"

Just keep breathing, young Koala, no matter how badly you want to stop.

Sell Crazy Someplace Else - We're All Stocked Up Here

I have literally just walked into the office and sat down when this begins.

The Boss : "Did you get a number?"

Here's me : "Wha?"

The Boss : "Did you get a number this morning?"

Here's me : "A number for what?"

The Boss : "For your customer."

Here's me : "Who?"

The Boss : "A thing. Did you get a thing from Kirsten?"

Here's me : "What thing? Who's Kirsten?"

The Boss : "Carson."

Here's me : "Who's Carson?"

The Boss : "Carson Munich" (mumbled - I think that's what she said anyway)

Here's me : "Who the hell is Carson Munich?"

The Boss : "Kuehne and Nagel. Did you get a number from them?"

Ok, finally a name that actually means something to me, but I still have no idea what this conversation is about.

Here's me : "A number for what? Was I supposed to get a number from them?"

The Boss : "An answer from them. Did you get an answer from them?"

Here's me : "An answer to what???"

The Boss : "An answer on the phone."

Here's me : "I haven't phoned them!"

The Boss : "I thought you phoned them this morning."

Here's me : "I've only just walked in the bloody door! You just watched me walk in!"

The Boss : "Don't be smart with me."


It's too early for this shit.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Bank Account Numba And Sort Code Pleeze

The Boss is frowning heavily at the screen. I am detecting this, of course, for by now I am surely well tuned in to the vibration that tells me gross stupidity is about to erupt.

"Would you..."

Oh Gods let it be something painless.

"Would you have..."

Come on come on come on come on gedditoverwith.

"Would you have any emails that I don't have?"

There is a silence for several seconds while I consider what this might mean, and in a fit of mental gymnastics that would impress Gary Kasparov, I work through a whole range of possible outcomes for various answers I might give.

Non-committal is the way forward.

Here's me : "Eh... what do you mean?"

"Would you have got any emails that I haven't got?"

Here's me : "Well... yes..? Any in particular?"

"We've received £15 paid into the bank by Mr. Motunbo".

Carefully blank expression.

Here's me : "Yes? Motunbo, yes. James. Nice fella. What about it?"

"Do you know what it's for?"

Here's me : "No?"

"It's a bit suspicious"

Here's me : "Ahhhhh.... why?"

I am fully aware, believe me, of the critical error I have just committed. I am the cat that curiosity killed, skinned and ate.

"I don't remember him owing us anything."

Here's me : "Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh... why not ask Accounts for a statement?"

"I don't want to go down that road."

Such statements are frighteningly common; a seemingly quick, simple effective solution is dismissed with a thought-terminating-cliché. She continues :

"Can he do anything to us with that?"

I feel my eyes close, involuntarily, and my hand begins to massage my left temple.
Caution, now, caution young Koala. You may be about to drill right through into a seam of purest idiocy. Be ready.

Here's me : "Anything... such as...?"

"Just can he do anything with it."

Here's me : "Again... anything like what?"

"Can he find out about us? Our address or anything?"

Let me recap. This may be unclear and confusing; if so, you're reading it correctly.
A customer - yes, he is a customer - has deposited money into our bank account. For many businesses this is not only normal but is indeed sort of 'The Point' of business happening. My nerves are fraying in anticipation of where this all leads.

Here's me : "Welllll.... he probably knows our address. Given that we're a publicly listed company. And it's on our invoices to him. And he's actually been in the building here. Given all of this, lodging money into our bank account seems a bit of a strange way to go to find out our address."

"I just thought it was suspicious, that's all. I don't like it. "

Here's me : "Wellll... why not ask accounts for a statement, that'll probably clear it right up" (speaking just a little too brightly, I feel, bright and yes indeed possible brittle)

"I don't want to go down that road."

She's still frowning at the screen, even now.

Hot Buttered Visa

The Boss has just returned from a short trip out, having declared (about five times, as is usual) that she was heading out to pay her visa bill. Upon returning she is clutching a bag of some takeway wares, and asks me -

“Would you like a piece of visa?”

Here’s me : "Wha?"

“I would offer you a fry but they’re all gone”

Here’s me : "Wha?"

“Veda. Would you like a veda fry?”

You’re not even speaking English anymore you know.

Here’s me : "Ahhhhh... what are you talking about?"

“Pizza. Would you like a piece of pizza?”

The Fresh Prince of Saucy Minx

The Boss : “Who would I get a rate from Bel Air to Minx with?”

Here’s me: “What??”

“From Bel Air to Minx”

Here’s me: “Where? to Where?!?”

“Bel Air-ez.”

Here’s me: “Bel Air, like in the Fresh Prince, or are you thinking Buenos Aires, as in Argentina?"


Here’s me: “OK. Belarus. BellaROOS. Belarus to where?”


Here’s me: “You mean Minsk??”

“Yeah, Minsk”

Here’s me: “Minsk is in Belarus!”.

“No, Dormagen?”

At some points, such limited understanding as I thought I had breaks down completely, and all I can really do is stare dead ahead and hold my breath until the vein in my head stops throbbing.

Here’s me: “Please. Start again. In full.”

“Who would I get a rate from Dormagen, Germany, to Minsk, Belarus with?”

Here’s me: “OK, ok. Dormagen to Minsk, gotcha. A rate for what?”

We are making progress.

“A schedule"

No we are not.

Here's me: "You... ah... you want a rate for schedule? Eh..."

"No, a schedule from Minsk to Belarus".

Breathe, motherfucker, breathe.

Here's me: "Are you asking me for a schedule from Dormagen to Minsk?? Is that what you're asking me??"


Praise fucking be.

Here's me: "AHA! Ok. A schedule! From Dormagen to Minsk! Great - now, a schedule for what, exactly, from Dormagen to Minsk??"


Here’s me: “Theres… no… water.. in.. between… them….”


Good day to you.

I, the Silent Koala, am an office-bound marsupial working a life of quiet drudgery for a shipping company in this unfair city. Due to a strange twist of fate as I approach my 31st year I find myself now working in a large office which contains only two bodies; one is my small, furry and rather cute marsupial torso, and the other is the rather larger and less cute figure of The Boss.

I have quickly discovered, trapped together with no other sane persons all day as I am, that The Boss is suffering (and therefore, I am also suffering) from a range of idiosyncracies and unusual manners of thought and behaviour, including but not limited to :

Malapropisms: frequent, unwitting and confusing
Paranoia: terrifying, intense and unhinged
Casual Racism: in that middle-aged country-folk way of thinking that they've nothing against "them", if you follow me
Technophobia / Computer Illiteracy: 'tippex on the screen' doesn't even begin to cover it
Terrible Geography: a negative attribute for those working in shipping
Zero Memory: for names, places, numbers, or anything said more than 3 seconds ago
Aggressive Denial : that any of the above are actually taking place

The Boss has by my estimation now been working in this industry for close to 30 years and is still incapable of picking up the phone and successfully executing the greeting "Good [state correct time of day here]". This to me speaks volumes about a persons mindset.

What shall unfold now is, sadly, a true and accurate account of such events, mostly created as I need some kind of outlet for this lunacy lest it consume my tiny fur-enshrouded brain also.

Enjoy, or whatever.