Monday, 29 June 2009

Here's Me : Wha?

This one is non-Boss-related, but worth a mention as one of the most bizarre emails I have received in this job :

Dear Sir,
I am writing to enquire if your company has the capability to ship livestock. I have a herd of 260 artistically-rendered canvas cows which must be shipped from Houston, Texas, to our buyer's London office.

[name removed]

Maybe I'm still asleep and dreaming this...

Thursday, 25 June 2009


The Boss has just discovered that her car insurance expires within 24 hours, and so has given up any pretence of being involved in the business and is hastily phoning every insurance company in the country for quotes.

This is actually fine with me, because without her input while I'm still doing the work of two people at least now I'm doing it largely unmolested.

There are persons working for insurance firms all around the country openly weeping as I type this, I'm quite sure. She goes into these things with such full-on bloody hostility, it never ceases to amaze me how someone can be so aggrieved with the rest of the world about just how bloody stupid their own self is.

Overheard phone conversations -


"I got a quote and you said you'd match me a cheaper quote. So I got a quote and yours is cheaper. Can you match your quote?"


"I don't know if it's three-door or five-door. Can you not tell by the model?"

"Five years no claims. With just one claim. Last year. But my friend was driving."


"What do you need my card details for, it's only a quote! I'm not giving you my card details! That's not on, you asking for my card details, when I just asked for a quote!... what? Oh, right, my car details, ok."


"But we've been through all this already. Do I have to give you all these details again?"
(apparently unaware of the fact that this is the very start of a new phone call)


People of the insurance world, it's rare that I have much by way of sympathy for you but this morning I assure you my heart goes out to you all.

The Republic of Wha?

The Boss : "Is Stoke-On-Trent a place or a country?"

Here's me : "Wha?"

Mission Ridiculous

This takes the fucking cake, it really does.

I arrived to the office early this morning to discover something rather strange.

First I shall set the scene for you.

Our office is on the second floor (that's the third floor, if you're an American) and to gain entry one has to first pass through the front doors of the building; this requires both a key and a security code. One must then get through to where the elevator is; another security code. Upon arriving at the second floor, one must then pass through a third door requiring a security code, and finally use a key to access our office. The entire passage through from front door to our office is covered by CCTV cameras.

With me so far?

So anyway having completed this morning ritual, I came to the door of our office, and opened it to discover that on the other side, i.e. inside the office itself, the door was barricaded after a fashion with two chairs.

Rather than push them out of the way, Koala climbed over the top of them; I wanted to leave this scenario in place so that I could try to get some answers as to just what in the blue fuck was going on; and also to take a picture to share with you, because I really do feel that this needs to be shared.

Here is the scene, as taken from inside the office:

Confused? If you're not, you're not paying attention.

So. A short while later The Boss arrives in, and pushes her way through this DIY barracade. I say nothing and simply stare politely while carefully maintaining the most pleasant neutral expression possible under the circumstances.

The Boss moves the chairs back to their original positions and takes up residence at her desk.

I'm still staring, and finally she cracks.

The Boss : "What?"

Here's me : "Is there anything you'd like to tell me?"

The Boss : "No?"

I indicate the doorway with a slight gesture and continue to smile pleasantly.

The Boss : "I forgot my keys."

Here's me : "Yes?"

The Boss : "So I couldn't lock the door."

Here's me : "Yes?"

The Boss : "So I put the chairs there in case anyone tried to get in."

I should state at this point that there is no money kept in our office, not even petty cash, and that the items of greatest value in the entire room are probably the two leather armchairs that were used to barricade the entrance.

Here's me : "And whom would be trying to get in?"

The Boss : "Someone might try to get in here."

Oh God help me, despite the fact that I am plainly working with someone completely deranged who may very well turn out to be a serial killer, I am fucking loving this.

Here's me : "So. Just to clarify; just in case some master villain managed to first somehow ascertain that you had forgotten your keys yesterday, then somehow was able to get through one security lock and three sets of security codes, evading detection on camera, to gain entry to our office which contains nothing of value, you then surmised that two armchairs would deter this Mission Impossible-style cat-burglar's progress?"

The Boss : "I thought it would it would trip him up."

I seize upon this like a cross-breed between Columbo and a demented terrier : "Him??"

The Boss : "I just wanted to make it harder for them."

Here's me, now leaning closer and speaking conspiratorially : "Them??"

The Boss : "I just had a funny feeling. I didn't like the door being unlocked."

Here's me : "I see. OK. Please, do not take this any further. If I should find trip-wires, sharpened objects or worse impeding my entry to the office some morning, I am going to have to seriously reconsider my employment here. And another thing. I've found your keys."

The Boss : "Oh did you? Where are they?"


Your thoughts on this are most welcome, one and all.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

ACME Spam Generator

The Boss : "What's an H - I - Five friend request?"

Here's me : "Spam."

The Boss : "What do I do with it?"

Here's me : "Block it."

The Boss : "How?"

Here's me (no way am I getting into this) : "Just delete it."

With me so far?

A short while later:

The Boss : "Who's 'coyote'?"

Here's me : "Coyote?"

The Boss : "Coyote."

Here's me : "Coyote, as in Wil-E-Coyote?"

The Boss : "No, that's key-o-t. This is coy-o-t."

Here's me : "Aghhh... How do you spell this?"

The Boss : "K-U-Y-E-T"

Here's me (sigh) : "Never heard of it. Or them. Or him. Where are you reading this off?"

The Boss : "The H-I-Five Friend Request."

Here's me (sigh) : "It's just spam. Just delete it."

The Boss : "I thought he was a customer of ours."

Here's me (sigh) : "I really don't think he is."

The Boss : "Didn't we have a customer called something like that?"

Here's me (sigh) : "Possibly. I don't know. But it's just spam. Just delete it."

The Boss : "Ah, no, it was Kuwait I was thinking of."

Here's me (facepalm) : "Ah, right. Kuwait. Right. More of a country, than a customer, y'know."

The Boss : "Yeah. Well, we ship there, that's why I thought of it."

Here's me : "Ah. OK. Right. All makes sense now, for sure."

The Boss : "So why are Kuwait sending me H-I-Five Friend Requests?"

Here's me, white knuckled : "It's just spam. It's nothing. Just delete it."

The Boss : "I just think it's a bit suspicious."

Here's me, losing cabin pressure : "Whyyyy?"

The Boss : "Well, we ship to Kuwait don't we?"

All Things Being Equal

The Boss : "Where's Kembla Island?"

Here's me : "Ummm.... do you mean Port Kembla?"

The Boss : "Maybe."

Here's me : "Port Kembla is in Australia, but it's not an island."

The Boss : "Pembla Island."

Here's me : "Never heard of it. Hang on, I'll google it."

(I google it. No results, but google suggests 'Pemba Island', which is a tiny little island near Zanzibar)

Here's me : "Is it Pemba Island, maybe? There's no 'Pembla' Island, but according to this Pemba Island is part of Tanzania, out near Zanzibar."

The Boss : "You work as a shipping agent and you had to look that up?"

Here's me, almost foaming at the mouth : "And you're my boss and you don't know Port Kembla from a tiny wee speck of sand in the Indian Ocean?"

The Boss : "Same difference. A port is a port."

Here's me : "gahhhhh...."

Just for your reference, Port Kembla is one of the largest industrial seaports in Australia. Here it is from above :

By comparison, and just so you get an idea of what I'm dealing with here, here's a shot of the quay on Pemba Island :

I'm Sorry, Did I Break Your Concentration?

Barely have I sat down at the desk this morning.

The Boss : "Don't forget you have to sort out that load to France today."

Here's me : "Done, sorted it yesterday."

The Boss : "And that container for Romania."

Here's me : "Yeah, that's sorted too."

The Boss : "And there's those two trucks going to Rigger."

Here's me even though I know full well what she means : "Rigger?"

The Boss : "Rigga..."

Here's me : "Riga?"

The Boss : "Yeah, don't forget to sort those."

Here's me : "They're already sorted."

The Boss : "And those documents for Francis."

Here's me : "Posted them yesterday."

The Boss : "With the right exchange rate?"

Here's me : "Yes, checked it, 1.64"

The Boss : "I was sure it was 1.63"

Here's me waving a piece of paper : "No, 1.64, look."

The Boss : "But did you remember to take off the fuel surcharge?"

Here's me : "Yes."

The Boss : "And you need to sort out that van in Tilbury."

Here's me : "Sorted it last night."

The Boss, accusingly : "And you were supposed to phone Terry first thing this morning."

Here's me, wearily : "I'll phone him now."

The Boss, angrily : "Why haven't you haven't phoned him already?"

Here's me, resignedly : "Because since I sat down you have been telling me to do an endless list of things that I've already done?"

The Boss : "Well, if I didn't keep prodding you, you'd never do anything."

Pass me a hammer.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

The Wheels Have Come Off

The Boss : "What's the width of a car?"

Here's me : "What kind of car?"

The Boss : "Just the body."

Here's me : "Wha?"

The Boss : "Just the car body."

Here's me : "As opposed to?"

The Boss : "Without the tracks."

Here's me : "A car on tracks?"

The Boss : "Would the car be wider than the tracks?"

Here's me : "A car on tracks?"

The Boss : "It doesn't sit flush to the tracks though."

Here's me : "A... car... on... tracks?"

The Boss : "Do you think it's going to be wider than the tracks with the tracks off?"

Here's me : "Wha?"

I'll let you know how this one ends up, if I ever find out.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Return to Sender

The Boss : "I'm going down to get the meat, do you want anything?"

Here's me : "Wha?"

The Boss : "The post. I'm going downstairs to get the post."

No idea where that one came from but it's a little scary...

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Dirty Laundry

The shipping industry is, as you might imagine, host to all kinds of frauds, scams and tricks. In the monthly newsletter from the British International Freight Association which we received this morning, there was an article regarding a very low-tech but probably quite effective scam that some companies have been hit by recently - "cheque washing".

The Boss seizes upon this paragraph and insists upon reading it aloud to me (in a monotone, of course). I've rendered it here as per it's original incarnation in print, because to re-type what The Boss actually said would be far too painful for me -

The Boss Orates : "BIFA Members are to be alerted to another scam targeted at freight forwarders involving 'washed' cheques. This is where a genuine cheque has been intercepted in the post, it's payee, cheque number and signatures and account details are removed and replaced so cleverly that the cheque appears completely legitimate. When it is apparently cleared the goods are despatched the to the fraudsters, before the cheque is then refused by the third party."

Here's me : "Wow. Obvious in a way but it would never cross your mind would it?"

The Boss : "They'll try anything. So I want you to sellotape any and all envelopes you send out."

Here's me : just pretty much staring at her, silent and slack-jawed.

The Boss : "Do you have a problem with that?"

Here's me : "Er... first of all, firstly - do you think that a group of cunning cheque-intercepting forgery-making criminals are going to be deterred by a strip of sellotape? and secondly, and I do feel this is quite important, we, as you must know, don't actually send any cheques out, ever?..."

The Boss : "Doesn't matter. It's the principal of the thing. I want all the envelopes sellotaped."

I might have to take this to extremes in order to be able to cope with it mentally.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Clue Is In The Question

The Boss : "You're putting the slips in the wrong place."

Here's me : "What slips?"

The Boss : "For Seaforth."

Here's me : "What slips for Seaforth?"

The Boss : "For Felixestowe."

Here's me : "Felixestowe?"

The Boss : "No, Southampton."

Here's me : "Wha?"

The Boss : "For London."

Here's me : "Wha?"

The Boss : "The slips for London, you're putting them in the wrong place."

Here's me : "What slips?"

The Boss : "Your envelope. Your envelope for London."

OK. I do have an envelope for London sitting in the post tray. OK. It's for London, and I've addressed it to London. Seemed reasonable enough to me.

Here's me : "What about my envelope for London?"

The Boss : "You've addressed it..."



A pause as she stares at the envelope in her hand, confusion radiating but utterly determined not to give up whatever the hell derailing trainwreck of thought is currently going on.

Here's me : "Yes? Yes?"

The Boss : "You've addressed it to London. Was it not for Seaforth?"

Ever seen a grown marsupial cry?

Pass Me The Gin

The Boss : "Pass me your photocopier."

Here's me : "Wha?"

The Boss : "Your photo... co.. your... wa... spiker."

Here's me : "My wha?"

The Boss : "Your stapler."

Shaking my head sadly, I do so. I am now watching The Boss apparently trying to insert my stapler into the paper feed of the photocopier. I have no fucking idea what's going on and I don't intend to find out if I can help it.

Conversational Juggernaut

The Boss : "Have you sent that arrival notice to Mark?"

Here's me : "Yeah, I did it yesterday."

The Boss : "Because he'll need that to get release at Halifax."

Here's me : "Yeah, I did it yesterday?"

The Boss : "If he doesn't get it in time they'll charge him storage."

Here's me : "Aghhh...."

The Boss : "So you need to do that."

Here's me : "-"

The Boss : "Are you going to send it then?"

What's the fucking point, honestly?

If It Wasn't Screwed On

The Boss has just left to go to a meeting, but as you may observe, in her frantic panic to assemble herself and her papers and get there on time (she's already late, natch), she has forgotten to take something quite important.