Monday, 18 January 2010

Pencil Pusher

Note : Our 'accounts system' consists of a big hardback A4 book, in which we write down each job, the amount we charged out, and details of the invoices received against it. Being that it's not the 1970's anymore this bothers me a bit but I've long since given up caring about such things.

The Boss has been out somewhere at lunchtime and has returned to the office with an air of a person who has things on their mind. This, naturally, scares the shit out of me.

The Boss : "We need to keep better track of our accounts."

Here's me : "I... totally agree."

The Boss : "We need something that can give us what our current profit is likely to be."

Here's me, thinking yes, we're moving forward here : "I totally agree!"

The Boss : "And so we know what charges we're likely to expect against a job. What do you think?"

Here's me, actually quite excited about the prospect of finally dragging this operation kicking and screaming into the 1980's : "Definitely! Yeah, I don't know if it warrants something as comprehensive as Sage but there's probably similar but simpler programs out there, so let me take a look and see what..."

The Boss, coldly, with a deadly air of finality : "No."

Here's me, hitting the wall : "Wha?"

The Boss : "I don't want nothing fancy."

Oh Christ, I've been blind-sided here. Oh fuck. IT'S A TRAP.

Here's me, fucking terrified : "You haven't been in Excel have you?"

The Boss : "No. Because I don't want nothing fancy."

Here's me : "So, ah, uh, what are you thinking of?"

The Boss makes her way over to me and sets some small items on my desk. I stare at them, then at The Boss, then back at the items, trying to keep my expression completely neutral.

The Boss : "So when you put a job in the book, I want you to write in, in pencil, what charges you think will come in. Then when the real invoice comes in, rub it out, and fill it in with a pen."

Here's me : "Ha ha! Very good! Ha!"

The Boss is staring at me.

I can do nothing but stare back.

The Boss : "Understand?"

Here's me, now staring with naked horror at the 'new accounts system' : "Is this a fucking eyeliner pencil? Is this stump of a thing I am looking at on my desk here a fucking eyeliner pencil?"

The Boss : "NO! I went out and got those special."

Here's me : "Did it come, like that, already drawn on?"

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

Here's me : "Could you have got a proper grown-up sized pencil?"

The Boss : "But there's lots of them."

It's true. There are. She reveals a handful of two inch long pencil stubs.

Here's me, with some nameless suspicion in the back of mind : "Where did you get these?"

The Boss : "It doesn't matter."

It does though, and in the back of my mind I think I'm starting to realise something important, some key familiarity here -

Here's me : "Did you steal these fucking pencils from fucking Argos?!"

The look on her face confirms that I am correct. Fuck.Ing.Hell.


  1. I'm slightly shocked that as a large shipping company, you don't have access to the main accounts system. One might think it all happens in the shipping software, and that you keeping the book is actually redundant on the whole, because all the prices and actions are linked and you send off the invoices to purchase ledger for payment...

    ...either way, I'd just be completely ignoring her and doing it in a spreadsheet as well. Not because I'm obtuse, but because she's a retard and that's what Excel is for.

  2. Are you fucking joking?

  3. You know, I was crying with laughter at the Middle East story, but the pencils and rubber are actually scaring the living shit out of me. Koala is a braver man than me. The fact that I'm a woman has nothing to do with it. Thing is, the rubber is brand new. Somehow, *that* is the most terrifying thing.

    Our Argos has tiny little biro pens like in a betting shop (not that I'd know hem hem). Are you sure she didn't make a longer journey to Ikea? Just saying.

  4. We keep all our purchase orders in a log that is printed out. It's a simple list yet there is absolute refusal to put it in excel.

    Mind you, we only stopped using floppy disks a couple of years ago.

  5. This is one of the most traumatising things I've ever read... utter lunacy...

  6. are they not from Ikea....just saying like....

  7. If there is a cake, or a reason for it to be taken, this does.

  8. The office I work in still uses floppy disks and our sales ledgers are still done by hand in big old ledger books that go back to the early 1980's in some cases....I feel your pain SK

  9. I entered the working world in 2002, as a reporter for a news magazine that was STILL laid out by cutting out the stories and thumb-tacking them to a giant flat plan that ran the length of the office wall.

    Stories were also delivered to production by being put on floppy disk and carried up two flights of stairs - despite the fact we somehow had email addresses and an online (albeit shit) news service.

    I left after a very big row during which I foolishly tried to explain xml tags.

  10. Magnificent! I might adopt that system myself, though the last time I nicked a biro from Argos it leaked all over my £40 raincoat ruining it, so be warned - they curse the fuckers in order to prevent mass losses (well, I for one will never nick ANYTHING from them ever again) so you now have The Curse of Argos to add to all your other problems!

  11. Is it just me that wants "The Boss" to go to manuels' restaurant :D

  12. Stuart - nope, it's not just you :-)

  13. Ah, your various tales of office-woe have made me smile, thanks folks :)

  14. actually teeny-weeny pencil stubs are de rigeur in accounts offices don't you know...
    Our head of accounts always uses the tiniest pencil possible and gets very upset when he loses them - i tried pointing out that if the pencil were bigger they would be easier to find but...

  15. I appreciate the irony of the head of accounts not getting that little bit of common-sense-maths. I like that.

  16. I have to use Sage every day, believe me you're better off with that pencil...

  17. I worked for your American shipping counterpart. I swear, I had to have. Or else it's just the way things are with bosses of international shipping companies.

  18. That's an intriguingly dark idea, IrishNYC. I wonder if they're all in it together...