The Oral Report

Standing up in front of the class was never so much fun!

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Location: River City, United States

The rantings and ravings of a mom of three wonderful girls as she finds new love while working like a dog and shaking her fist at the system. You know. Pretty much like everybody else.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Hell Still Sucks!

Can I bitch about work for a minute? Sorry to blurt it out like that, but I’m having a bit of a day. I know it’s been a while since I’ve shared work goodies (especially 'Hell' work goodies), and this one probably isn’t prime, but it’s driving me batshit nonetheless.

To start with, we’re at the conclusion of the first hour of our Civil Defense Sonata here at the office. Please stay tuned for the next hour’s Duck and Cover Marathon, followed by the all night Watta Lotta Racket Concerto. It's certainly providing mood music. Let me tell you.

I hardly know where to start with today's little fiasco. Let’s say a couple weeks ago, I got a call from one of the Hellspawn. Yes, yes. My little demons are gone, but not forgotten. This particular one actually happens to be a fairly nice guy. He had run into a problem with the retail spaces on the ground floor that he purchased, regarding the tenant fit-out of the space. The problem, of course, was related to the original construction.

Gee, with Larry, Moe and Curly Construction building it, who’d a thunk it?

Apparently, the building inspector had brought to the tenant’s attention that the security system wiring (and telephone wiring) was not rated properly (it needed to be encased in conduit because of the plenum ceiling return for the HVAC system...did you get that Nate?...and possibly Mike N.?...everyone else feel free to yawn through this part) and would not pass a final building inspection. That could translate to his tenant not being able to occupy the space or open for business.

Kind of a thing.

A few minutes after that call, I got a call from the security system contractor, who advised me that without someone authorizing the additional expense to go back and encase all the security wiring in each of SIX retail spaces in conduit, they would not start this work. Basically, they wanted some assurance that they’d be paid for the extra work. Who could blame them? No one wants to accept responsibility for the error and everyone is pushing them to do it. I’d sure as hell make sure someone was going to be liable for MY bill before I set foot on the property, too. So that’s what they were doing.

I was asked, by my boss (you remember Santa Claus?), to set up a meeting with the security company, the original building contractor, the HVAC contractor (who designed the system and opted for the plenum return) and the owner of the space. As a responsible project coordinator (and all around nice chick), I did. Everyone was to meet at “Hell” Monday of last week at 10:30AM. The fact that I was not invited was more than a little okay with me. Any day that I can stay out of “Hell” is a good day for me. Mostly.

So, how many of you see what’s coming next? Yeah, see, it’s because I suck at the delicate art of foreshadowing.

My phone rings at roughly 10:15 that Monday morning. It was Santa. And the exchange went something like this…

SANTA: I didn’t know if you needed a ride to “Hell” this morning. Since I’m on my way downtown, I thought if you did, I’d swing by and pick you up.

ME: ::blink:: ::blink:: ::long pause:: ::looking at my watch:: Um…

SANTA: Are you there?

ME: Yeah, I’m here. I didn’t realize you wanted me to join you in your meeting this morning.

SANTA: Well, I really thought it would be better to have an extra set of eyes and ears there. Did you have something else going on?

(As an aside, I’d like to note that Santa just celebrated his 70th birthday a couple weeks ago and has some memory issues.)

ME: (had I been smart, I’d have lied my way out of it, but I know he needs me...::groan::) No, nothing else going on. Yeah, okay, if you want me to go, sure, stop by and pick me up.

SANTA: Great! I’m on my way now. I’ll call back when I’m close enough for you to run downstairs and meet me.

ME: Okay, see you soon.

At 10:35, I start worrying. Wondering where the hell he is. Knowing that the rest of these people are standing around waiting for us. But, finally, shortly thereafter, he calls. Luckily, I suppose, “Hell” is about twelve blocks from here. So, it doesn’t take us long to get there.

After walking around and reviewing options, it becomes clear, fairly quickly, that the ceiling cannot be lowered enough to add the ductwork which would be necessary to eliminate the plenum return situation, so we will have to change out the wiring. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever be able to completely walk away from this project. I mean it. Ever. Like, will [Kid 3] be walking down the aisle at graduation (eleven years from now) and my cellphone ring and it will be someone from “Hell” with some issue that can’t be solved by anyone but me and has to be done RIGHT NOW?

The security contractors tell us they have the people available to do the work immediately, they just need someone to authorize the extra expense.

Great. How much?

“$150.00 a pull”, they tell us. I hate looking stupid at these things, but Santa has a tendency to give away the farm and, well, I had no idea how many ‘pulls’ we were talking about. So, sure, yeah, I’ll bite. “How many pulls are we talking about, at $150 per?” The security contractor looks around and says, “On average 5 or 6 per space.”

Now, we’re looking at six spaces. Santa knows this. He was there, too. I can’t spend his money for him, but I’m trying to give him the information necessary for him to make an informed decision on how to do it himself. Amazing to me how rarely that works. I’m no math whiz, but I’m thinking, worst case, 36 pulls at $150 each is over $5,000.


On a job that is done and over and on which we’ve already spent FAR too much money above and beyond. Santa looks around, scratches his beard, lays a finger aside of his nose and tells them to go with it. He’ll be responsible. And he said it in front of everyone.

Now, fast forward to today.

I get a call from our controller. She received an invoice from the security company on work at “Hell” and wanted to know who she should send it to. Because, you know, we’re done on that job and don’t have any more expenses, so it must be someone else's invoice, right? Sadly, I had to tell her about my meeting last week. And I ratted Santa out for authorizing the work and accepting the financial responsibility for it.

“How much is it?”, I asked her. “$4,200.00” was her reply. Whew!

She further clarified that the invoice broke out how many pulls in each space and indicated that they were done at $150 per. Can’t really argue it, but Santa’s partner is gonna be pissed as hell. Guaranteed.

Guess what happens next? Guess? That’s right. Santa comes back to my office and is flabbergasted by the price on the invoice.

“Why I had NO IDEA it would be that much!!”, he bellowed.

“Well, Santa, they told us $150 per pull, and that there were 5-6 pulls in each of the six units. How many pulls did they bill you for?”

“28. But this is too much! I had no idea it would be this much! This isn't RIGHT! I'm not paying it! I'm not! I'm not! I'm not!!”

Now, what the hell am I supposed to say to that? He knew what the rate was. He knew the terms. He authorized the work. And NOW, after the work is done, he wants to renegotiate the terms? Judge Judy would eat his shorts!!

“Santa, I’m not sure what you want me to do here. You authorized the work and they told you how much it would be.”

He much prefers it when I play the “Yes Man”, but I suck at that. Big time.

Grasping at anything strawlike, I said, “Do you want me to set up a meeting with the building contractor and the HVAC contractor and you can see about having them split the cost with you?”

To which he replies, “Yeah, yeah. That’s what I want! Set it up as soon as possible!” It was a little creepy the way he was sneering and rubbing his hands together while he did it. I just doubt it's gonna do him any good.

So, I’m setting up this meeting. To talk about splitting the cost on work that all of these people witnessed Santa assuring everyone that he would cover. Good luck backing out of that pile of doo. Hours and hours of wasted time. Frustrating.

I’m gonna be sick that day. ::cough:: I feel it coming on already.

[As a postscript, let me note that one of the Hellspawn dropped in (before I could even finish this post) to dump yet another issue at my feet. Can't get enough of Hell's love, Baby.]


Blogger AaA said...

Nasty-sounding cough. Definitely stay home.

Say, aren't you due for some womanly plumbing issues around then too? Never hurts to be sure.

9/07/2006 12:51 AM  

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