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There’s Just No Accounting For Some People’s Attitudes

, , , , , , | Working | January 3, 2022

A few months after I start my first ever job — basically data entry, filing, and answering the phones in an accounts office — the finance director decides that she doesn’t like my phone answering manner. Rather than explaining this to me, she hires someone to work alongside me who has far more experience in the role.

This achieves nothing. The new hire is a grumpy woman who refuses to answer the phone, as the company is short of cash and almost every call is a supplier screaming for payment. I end up covering pretty much the whole role until a new accountant is taken on to replace the previous one, who had been driven into a nervous breakdown by the finance director disagreeing with everything she did. He is far more involved in the day-to-day running of the office, has a backbone, and makes sure to divide the tasks up in a more even manner.

However, rather than completing her share of the tasks, my colleague does the bits she is assigned directly by the finance director and ignores pretty much anything else. As a result, a moderately strange set of direct debits end up not being posted for months. A car manufacturer was taking the net cost of each car sold to us on a single direct debit and the total of all the VAT on all invoices for one day as another one. So, every day, you had one more debit than invoices from exactly seven days earlier. That’s slightly weird but not impossible to track, unless you are my colleague.

Eventually, my boss gives up on getting the finance director’s pet to do her job and asks me to work with him to process all these ignored payments. We work on it continuously, tracking down missing invoices, and we eventually get almost everything completed. The fun starts when, after nearly two days of doing someone else’s job, I return to my own desk, next to my grumpy colleague. 

The moment I enter the main accounts office, she starts screaming at me.

Grumpy Colleague: “Where have you been for two days?! How dare you leave me to answer the phones all alone?!”

You know, the job she was hired for in the first place.

I turn around, walk back into my boss’s office next door, where he is sitting perhaps ten feet away from the screaming. The two rooms are connected by an open window through which my grumpy colleague has been able to see me working on her job beside her direct boss for the past two days.

Me: “I’m going home, or I’ll do something I’ll regret.”

Boss: *Laughs* “Go ahead and leave for the day.”

As I was heading out the door, I heard him loudly asking my colleague to come into his office for a quick word. She pretty much never spoke to me again, something that was definitely a benefit.

The company went into receivership a few months later; the family owning it was still spending the money faster than it could generate it. Guess who was the first person the receivers let go, and who was the only person on the accounts team to be kept on by any of the companies that bought parts of the old business? My old boss eventually joined me, and I worked with him for another decade after that.

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