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Can’t See The Forest For The Paperwork

, , , , | Working | CREDIT: mckenna_em | July 2, 2021

It’s the summer of 2020. I joined my boyfriend on a camping trip to the woods, planning to relax while he worked. We both work in tree removal, but I didn’t have a current project. I accidentally got a job as admin support for my boyfriend’s boss after hanging around the office one day and giving Excel tips. (He didn’t know what Ctrl+F did.)

At first, I helped with building spreadsheets, reports, and sending emails for him. Every day, he asked a new task of me, and every day, I did it well. Eventually, I had developed a schedule and even included running programs to check for mistakes while I took calls to increase productivity.

My boss — the owner of the company — decided he had nothing to do with me there, so he went home (to a different state and time zone) and I ran things. There were about three months of this. I wouldn’t really hear from him except for the occasional, “How much money did we make this week?” or, “Has anyone told you you’re doing a great job?” I’m a very modest person so believe me when I say that I was great at this job. Nothing got by me. I kept everything organized and always knew where to find any kind of information I needed.

A few weeks into the fourth month, my boss came back and brought his family. His wife would hang around the office and watch me like a hawk. If I took too long of a bathroom break or doodled while on conference calls, she would tell me that I was on company time. And honestly, I didn’t mind too much; she was very nice a lot of the time and I’m pretty easygoing.

During a standdown, my boyfriend and I went home. We were having dinner with his family when my boss’s wife called. She was angry from the start of the call. “Where is [Employee]’s paperwork?” she demanded.

I told her it was scanned and in the locked folders in our company files and walked her calmly through how to find it. She then yelled at me for not organizing files. As I said, I always knew exactly where everything was. Everything she asked for, I told her where to find just off the top of my head. She demanded that, due to my incompetence, she wanted to organize all files from now on because that was her job and this was her company. I was a bit upset but didn’t let her know and apologized for any mistakes. Remember, she and her husband had not been present or in much contact for months.

Following this call, every file, paper scrap, receipt, etc., that needed filing, I sent her in an email stating that it needed filing. She eventually told me that I didn’t need to send her everything and to just file it, but I let her know that, due to my history of “incompetence,” I didn’t want to jeopardize the company or create issues by misfiling, and that it was important to me that she did her job so she could be present in her company. She hated filing. I don’t know why she did what she did, but I never let her get out of that hole she dug.