Wednesday, May 22, 2013

whoa! a real life update!

"And when I see the sign that points one way?
The lot we used to pass by every day?

Just walk away Renee!
You won't see me follow you back home!
The empty sidewalks on my block are not the same --
You're not to blame.

From deep inside the tears that I'm forced to cry?
From deep inside the pain that I chose to hide?

Just walk away Renee!
You won't see me follow you back home!
Now as the rain beats down upon my weary eyes?
For me it cries ..."

-- "Walk Away Renee" by The Left Banke.

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Well, this has been an eventful last seven days.  Since one thing I strive for on this site is brutal honesty*, and since I view writing as therapeutic**, I might as well work out my conflicted feelings for you all to read.  Good?  OK.

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(*: I have not heard one word of feedback from the two people this was aimed at.  (Pause).  What?  (Pause).  No I didn't expect to hear from them!  They haven't explained a damned thing in 273 days and counting!  Why start now?)

(**: it's write, or (eric church voice) drink a little drink, smoke a little smoke.  (Pause).  (brett kane voice) aw!  sh*t!)

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Six major game-changing / life-altering / "what the hell?" moments have gone down in my life over the last seven days.  Let's hit 'em in order from "best development" to (peter griffin voice at seeing ernie the giant fighting chicken) "OH CRAP!"

6. My dad made it back from my cousin's graduation.  Normally, mid-May, coming back from the Gulf Coast to KC isn't a ... what?  (Pause).  Oh my God, yes.  Yes, yes, yes!  Ladies and Gentlemen, the Vice President (for how much longer?) of the United States.  Mr. Biden?

(joe biden voice) Folks!  Normally, a ten hour drive from Corpus to KC in the middle of May is NOT a "big f*cking deal"!  A three letter word -- deal!

This week?  It was, because as we are all aware, Oklahoma City is dealing with one of the greatest natural disasters of my lifetime, due to the tornadoes that rolled through that fine urban area on Sunday night and Monday afternoon.

5. My co-worker who is battling cancer, returned to work full time a week ago tomorrow (Thursday).  A wonderful day, right?  Uuh ... hang on, we're getting back to this in a few more paragraphs.

4. My cousin graduated from TAMU-Corpus Christi on Saturday.  With a degree in (I think) marine biology.  So congrats to Zach, who in true Stevo's Family fashion ... wasn't sure this day was gonna happen, as recently as a week ago.

And so, the last of "my" generation of family, has finally entered the real world.  Here's how diverse we all wound up:

* I graduated from TCU, and work as a reinsurance accountant.
* My brother graduated from John Brown, and works as a claims manager for an insurance company.
* My sister-in-law graduated from KSU, and works for the KCK school district as a special ed coordinator.
* My cousin Brooke graduated from Ithica, then with a law degree from Notre Dame, and works for the Justice Department.
* My cousin Jordan ... uuh, is my cousin Jordan.
* My cousin Kristin graduated from FSU, and works for the Center for Disease Control.
* My cousin Spencer graduated (I think) from FSU, and after a tour in Iraq, is (I think) a fireman in the Orlando area.
* My cousin Brent graduated from KSU, and works as a horticulturalist in Chicago.
* My cousin Brad graduated from KU, and works for the VA as an auditor.
* My cousin Brian ... uuh, is my cousin Brian.  And now
* My cousin Zach graduated from TAMU-CC, and will go into some veterinary field.

Diversity!

3. My "special little guy" graduates preschool!  No, really -- he even had the cap and gown and everything.  I posted the pic of the A-man in his green graduate costume with his sisters on Facebook.  That kid holds the key to my heart, let me tell you.  I love my "special little girls" ... but just between you and me?  Ayden's my favorite.  That kid is gonna change the world someday.  So proud of him.

2. My lazy as (rhymes with "buck") co-worker in Seattle got schooled on our conference call today.

I had a 3pm net meeting to go over changes to our account reconciliation process that kick in for the 2nd Quarter 2013 reconciliations.  Our Blackline person in Chicago (Sandy) is a really nice lady.  I like her.  She's like me: she'll tolerate bullsh*t for awhile, but eventually, she reaches her breaking point, and just destroys you with your own words and actions*.

(*: it's only going to keep getting worse, champ y chica.  Once I set out to destroy someone(s)?  They get destroyed.  See Christiansen, Christensen, Josh (Jesus, you would think I'd remember someone I hated that much's proper spelling); and Gaverth, Leif.)

If you know me well, or at least work with me, you know there is one co-worker of mine based in Seattle, that I thoroughly despise.  Literally the entire department knows when I get any kind of correspondence from him, because (and he usually uses our IM system to get my attention) I will immediately drop one of the following three phrases, loudly enough to be heard half a city block away:

a. Jesus f*cking Christ!  NOT TODAY!
b. God f*cking dammit!  NOT TODAY!
c. (for phone calls) oh HELL no!

Always good for a laugh from everyone, other than me.

So, the meeting starts a little after 3pm today, and Sandy starts putting up examples of how NOT to do an account reconciliation.  (I was listening on the phone; following along online to the PowerPoint slides as they go by).  And after the third "don't do this" example goes by, I notice something.

Every "don't do this!  No, really -- don't do this!" example Sandy is using in the PowerPoint, is an account this guy reconciles.

My boss sits next to me, and he didn't dial in for the meeting due to other issues (we'll get there when we get to number one).  Because we're both lazy, he SameTimes me with a "how's the meeting going, anything I'm missing that I need to know?"

And I respond with:

"Care to guess who reconciles the accounts in the first five examples Sandy's shown, of how not to reconcile an account?"

BROUGHT THE HOUSE DOWN.  My boss could not stop laughing.  I just wish Penny hadn't left already for our company's golf league match today, because (as my co-worker, good friend, and bowling league teammate) she knows how much I hate this guy, and she would have been laughing right along with us.

For the record?  Sandy put up 12 "don't do this!" examples.  11 of them, were accounts Wayne reconciles, including his "reconciliation" that currently has us scrambling to avoid failing our annual audit, because he's too f*cking stupid to see that an account with an (on average) $60,000 balance ... has ballooned to $6,800,000 in less than a year.  He attributed it to "variance / timing issues" ... and provided no support.  In reality, our system was booking everything as a debit, instead of balancing debits and credits.  Something so obvious, my boss and I figured it out within about 22 seconds of looking at the account when PwC brought it to our attention.  (spanish bumblebee voice) Aye yay yay!  No me gusta!

Then again, this is the guy who (I swear to God, this conversation happened -- Penny can verify it) actually called me back in March, and this was our conversation, as he attempted to figure out a major variance in our unapplied cash account reconciliation for February -- and keep in mind: this guy has a CPA:

(phone) ring!  ring!
(stevo) (sees caller id identification)
(stevo) oh HELL no!
(stevo) (answers phone)
(stevo) yes, Wayne.
(wayne -- in his defense, he stutters ... which just drives me even more bat sh*t crazy) Hello, St-st-steve.  How ar-ar-are you do-do-doing?
(stevo) fine.  What can I do for you.
(wayne) Well, the un-un-unapp-app-lied cash acc-account has a large var-var-variance this month.  It was mu-mu-much higher in Jan-jan-january, than in Feb-february.  I was won-won-wonder-der-ing if you knew why?
(stevo) (looks at phone in utter disgust)
(wayne) And th-th-this year, February is lo-lo-lower than last year.  Do-do-do you know why?
(stevo) (looks at phone with complete contempt)
(stevo) Wayne?
(wayne) yes?
(stevo) How many days are in February?
(wayne) 28.
(stevo) How many days are in January?
(wayne) 31.
(stevo) That's your answer.
(wayne) Wh-wh-what is?
(stevo) (literally screaming this) Jesus f*cking Christ!  Are you really this stupid?  Wayne, February has three fewer days than January to begin with!  So that's three fewer days with deposits coming in!  Four if you count the damned holiday for President's Day, five when you realize last year was a godd*mned leap year!
(wayne) oh.
(stevo) (furious voice) Anything else?
(wayne) (scared sh*tless at my rare outburst of anger) No.
(stevo) Goodbye!  (slams phone down).  Un f*cking believable!
(my boss) Let me guess -- Wayne?

Oh, and one thing I forgot -- after today's webinar conference ...

(my boss) Go figure -- they kept him.
(me) (could not stop laughing)
(my boss) (could not stop laughing)

Gallows humor folks.  Gallows humor, because ...

1. All of my accounting co-workers were "downsized", a week ago tomorrow, effective July 15th.

Yeah, this is the class, the pure, unchecked class, of "company Stevo works for" -- they waited until the EXACT DAY my co-worker fighting cancer, came back full-time, to do this.

Last Thursday started out as a great day.  The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, even my allergies (and this is a miracle) didn't flare up as soon as I got to work.  (The walk in from the parking lot, you have to pass beneath nothing but cherry blossom and bradford pear trees.  It's misery for me.)

At right around 11am, I got a phone call from my ultimate boss, from one of our conference room phones, asking if I had 10-15 minutes to come up and talk.  Here's how blindsided by this I was (to say nothing of my boss and co-worker): I didn't put two and two together, at all ... even though both times I have been "downsized" in my professional career?

That is EXACTLY how it happened -- a last second request to meet the main boss in a conference room (at Transamerica), or a last second request to drive 13 hours back from Rapid City, South Dakota, to meet the main boss at a hotel by KCI (Rubbermaid).  At least TA I knew was coming -- and I wasn't the least bit upset by it.  (And to my boss' credit at that job, she didn't try to screw me over.)

But the Rubbermaid layoff, I never saw coming.

Ditto this.

Good grief, I am stupid.

Again:

Phone call from department head, in town unexpectedly from Seattle?  Check.
Unexpected request to meet in a conference room?  Check.
Again -- phone call from department head, in unexpectedly from Seattle?
Again -- request to meet in a conference room?

In the words of Swoozie Kurtz' character in "Great Expectations": "Christ!  How could you be so stupid!"

I passed by my boss on the way to the elevators, and he had this dazed and confused look to him.  I still didn't put two and two together.  All he said to me was "I'll see you tomorrow".  I didn't see Carol (my co-worker battling cancer) with him, so my thought was "ok, Carol wasn't up to a full day, and he's taking her home or to the emergency room or something".

I head up to the conference room, and my ultimate boss (at least until July 15th) Leeann is there.  We shake hands, I sit down ... and this is what she said next:

"Steve, I had to make a very difficult decision today ..."

And at that point, I had completely panicked.  I've been in two of these "meetings" in my life, and neither ended well for me.

" ... and I decided to let (my boss, who is named Steve as well) and Carol go.  I feel the accounting department would work best, centered in Seattle.  I want you to stay on to handle the reinsurance from here ..."

I would be lying if I told you I remembered anything after that, other than I clearly didn't screw up too bad, because I still have a job a week later.

I walked out of the conference room, headed down to the first floor, and out the door, to wander the (not even remotely) dangerous sidewalks of south Overland Park for the next 90 minutes.  To anyone reading this who works in the College and Metcalf vicinity, and you saw some guy just talking out loud for 90 minutes last Thursday as he walked the various streets, alleys, and parking lots between College, Metcalf, Lamar, and 119th?

I'm not (certifiably) crazy.  (Yet.)  Just stunned.

I didn't even get lunch; I just walked around in a dazed and confused state of existence.  (Pause).  Yes, I know I go through life dazed and confused!  What the hell's your point?

I headed back up to my floor about 12:45pm, and Carol and Steve had already left for the day.  I didn't even get two seconds to sit back down, before my buddy Joe (who saw me ... dazed and confused ... walking towards my desk) headed over to find out what had happened.  (Apparently -- and I wasn't there to hear it, so I'm going on second hand reports, but apparently our various managers gathered their employees about 11:15, 11:20, to let them know what happened ... and my (soon to be ... for a third time!) boss, broke down when she delivered the news, as she's also fighting (and thank God above -- beating) cancer at this point), to let everyone know what had happened.

Also, major shout-out to Penny, for the unasked for, yet happily received, Route 44 Strawberry Limeaid she bought for me, to cope with the news of the day.  And to my co-worker Ute, who was as "what the f*ck just happened here?!?!?!" stunned as me, and has had accounting's back every step of the way the last five, six months, as we've been short-staffed and ridiculously overworked, due to factors beyond our control.

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If you'd told me seven days ago that I'd be the only person in accounting left standing?  I'd have laughed you out of the room.  I've braced for a layoff for nearly a year ... and I wouldn't have been upset by it.  My boss has four kids -- two in college -- and needs a salary.  Hell, here's how deep my connection to him is: my mom taught three of his four kids.  And here's how great, how amazing, of a boss he is: he HATED my mom, and vice versa ... and not only didn't let it affect his opinions of me -- he hired me off the street after Transamerica let me go (george harrison voice) all those years ago, knowing full well who I was.

Fair and balanced?  FOX News is not.  Fair and balanced?  My boss is.  And I am going to miss working for him tremendously.

My co-worker is not only in a fight for her life, she has a disabled husband she's caring for.  I absolutely expected, if layoffs came, to be the "sacrificial lamb" of my area of the department, and I not only wouldn't have been upset, I'd have been fine with it.

This should have been me.  In a fair, just world?  It would have been me.  Instead, the person that is the "most easily hireable", the "one with the least to lose by this"?

Is the last one left standing.

To quote my favorite swear phrase, unedited:

God.  Fucking.  Dammit!

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For all of my issues with him (and I'm guessing our friendship is permanently done-zo at this point), Dusty is absolutely right about one thing: life is bigger than your desires.  You shouldn't just be able to take whatever you want from life.  You shouldn't be allowed to f*ck over others, to get what you want.  We ALL matter.

(Which, of course, begs the obvious question: Dusty said that?!?!?!  Really?!?!?!?!)

Yeah, he did.  On multiple occasions.

And for the first time in ... hang on, carry the two ... 273 days?

He's actually right*.

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(*: that concession in no way, shape, or form, is a cease-fire in our hostilities.  You started this fight; I'm winning this war, Champ.  You're Beauregard after Fort Sumter and First Manasses at this point; I'm Grant marching down the Rappahanock to seize Richmond and Petersburg.  I may lose every battle ... but I'm winning this f*cking war.)

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To close:

I'm disgusted I work for a company, that can kick one of the finest, most selfless people I've ever met, to the curb as she's in the fight for (literally) her life.

And I'm disgusted with myself ... that I'm not disgusted, with being the last one standing.

That's my week in review.  Good luck topping it, on the misery index ...

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also, apologies on the layout ...

Something went bat sh*t crazy when I tried to upload the previous post.  I'll work on fixing it Tuesday.  I didn't change a thing; t...