Been it, seen it, done it …
Well, that’s it for another year. The Christmas party scars are starting to heal and James from stores has finally started to talk to people after his unfortunate “misdemeanour” at 3am with the boyfriend of Tracy in accounts, which resulted in an energetic display from 3 of Glasgow’s finest “night attendants” – what was wrong with the name “bouncer” anyway? (and on a similar point, why did “personnel” become “Human Resources”?).
As usual the staff left the office prior to the Christmas break with more acceleration than a greyhound on amphetamines and came back to work with as much enthusiasm as the PR director for the Lib-Dems. Looks like it’s my job to be team motivator and to try and whip up the enthusiasm. That’ll go down well no doubt – fortunately I’m used to being unpopular, however, as the emails start getting read I’m getting looks that I haven’t seen since I explained to my bank manager that I needed some form of “assistance” to deal with the divorce payments.
It would appear that the accountant has just worked out that our customers all had the same break as us and, surprise surprise, didn’t pay us during the holiday break. I’ve now seen 3 emails in the last 45 minutes all with the heading “credit control” and with more capitals in the opening paragraph than even I’m comfortable with. Clearly his forecasting hasn’t quite gone according to plan and he’s just working out that the first thing our customers will do on their return to work will not be to reach for the cheque book to pay us before everyone else. I make a note to myself to go and see him in a couple of hours time to try and calm him down before he puts 75% of our customers on credit alert and stops supplies to them.
Any publicity is good publicity, so I’ve been told. Well, I’ve got one of the red tops holding on line 4 and I have to say that principle might work for certain Irish airlines, however I’m pretty sure it’s not going to work for me. The “friendly” journo is waiting for our quote in respect of one of our products which has just been revealed by the wonderful BBC as having been seen in use in a rather unfriendly country, whose policies on equality and fairness when compared to mine would put me in the leading role for a Nobel peace prize. I’m trying to get hold of my solicitor whilst said journo is on hold, but it seems to me that he’s currently doing one of the two things he’s always doing when I want him: lunch or court. How on earth he manages to bill me for the exorbitant fees when he can only have 45 minutes of daily available time I will never know.
Decide to speak to journo, who seems more friendly than I am comfortable with. He only wants a “quote” so he can keep his editor happy. He says the story will never run as it’s a busy day and this isn’t really on anyone’s radar. Funnily enough as he says these words, all I can think of is the translation- “nothing’s happening in the world and this is going to make page 1,3 & 4 with a follow on for the next 3 days as some MP wakes up to condemn capitalist manufacturers that just happen to pay taxes and employ people”.
Remind myself to have a harsh word with marketing and their memo about all products bearing our corporate branding to improve awareness of our company in the marketplace. Somehow, I can’t help but think today was just the day I didn’t really want everyone to know the full extent of our product usage. Start planning damage limitation, whilst at the same time thinking I might need to use another company vehicle home tonight, or even stay in a hotel just in case the red tops are camped outside the house door.
Sinking into the chair I start trying to leaf through the business cards trying to find the card for that PR firm I met at the last Exchange conference. I remember them saying they excelled in crisis management – well, this will be one to test their superhuman skills. Suddenly, have a thought though – just how did our equipment find its way halfway round the world in a country I only distantly remember from my 4th year geography lessons? Ask Tracy to do some digging (she’s only too happy for any excuse to stay away from James) whilst I start trying to explain to the PR company that we don’t manufacture products that would normally be found advertised in “Dictator’s Weekly” and that this has come as much of a shock to me as it appears to have come to my MP.
Finally, a breakthrough; Tracey triumphantly declares that the product we made was supplied to the UN. Never have I been so glad to discover that the UN clearly has had a shipment “diverted” and our goods clearly turned up where they shouldn’t be. That’ll be the product warranty invalidated then – no need to send out the service reminders this time.
Now, just need to email my solicitor to tell him not to start thinking billable thoughts about the problem and to break the news to James that we’re not swapping cars tonight after all…