AJ finally accepted the right answer today. It wasn't what he wanted so he decided to change the question.
Monday: AJ called us together for the morning meeting and said it was really too early to implement the final stage of his three-stage "creative thinking" policy, but he was going to do it anyway. We'd showed him we were capable of taking the changes on board and activating them, so we'd press on.
He said we all have to do our work without referring to him, he'll just keep an eye on us in case we need him, and we have to monitor ourselves while we work outside the box.
Nobody laughed out loud, but we all know he won't stop interfering.
After he'd gone back in his office James said the only one working outside the box was Mike. Mike said no, he was working within the car, and that sort of counted as a box. LeeAnn said don't tell AJ that or he'll take your car keys away. Mike went pale.
Any day now AJ'll realize he hasn't messed with the computers yet, and then I'll get told to make the keyboards type faster or something. If he tries proactive and lateral thinking with the servers I'll jam his fingers in a router outlet and plug him in the UPS.
Tuesday: AJ came out his office after the morning coffee break and bugged Donna for a while, then started drifting over towards me. I waited until I was sure he was coming after me, then I grabbed the loading sheets for this afternoon and got up and out before he reached my door. He caught me though, and said where are you going? I said downstairs to confirm the shipments for this afternoon. The others were looking to see if I'd get away with it - for just a moment I thought I had - but he said excellent, I'll come with you.
I went downstairs with AJ behind me, and over to Packing. Steve from Stores came out the door of Store One when he saw me coming over, but he saw AJ behind me so he went back in and shut the door. Thanks, pal.
I was just about to give the Head Packer the three-part loading sheets, when AJ said what're they for? I said they're the loading sheets the Packers use to tell which drivers are coming in today and which pallet each is supposed to take, so he said are you still writing them out? The driver coming in to pick up knows what they're coming in for, so you don't really have to write them out, do you? I said remember I told you I don't write them out? I print the sheets out, with the loading times, items and destinations on. He said oh yes, that's right, but I told you not to do duplicate loading sheets - you should only be doing one. I said you remember I told you about using the multiple part printout as shipping papers? and the driver signs all three when they pick up the load? and he takes the two top copies with the item - one for the shipper, one for the customer? and we keep the bottom one and it goes to Donna to invoice? He said oh yes, that's right - as long as it's still necessary to print three, and wandered off to check two Packers with a roll of stretchwrap and a heat sealing gun were being proactive enough with the crate they were packing.
I said can't you put him in that crate and send him out? but the Head Packer said that's a standard - we haven't got any jumbo crates left and his head's too big to fit in a standard. We waited until he was right around the other side of the crate then I said well, I'm off and went back upstairs fast hoping he wouldn't notice I'd gone.
He came back upstairs about a half hour later and wandered back in his office, so I escaped this time.
Wednesday: The big printer wasn't working after the lunchbreak again. Walked over, pulled Mike's mobile charger, plugged the printer back in.
The spike on Amy's red leaved fountain plant has started to put out more small bobbles, and the one she spotted last week is getting bigger. Amy looked real upset about this but Donna said it really looks like it's growing new plants. Amy said well it looks like she's a he after all - I suppose I can't call him Gary any more. I said it just sits there drinking and throwing out leaves, why did you call it Gary anyways? Amy said because he reminds me of Gary at the shop with red hair. I said why, does he just sit about drinking too? Amy said no, but LeeAnn said if it's the same one, then yes - he's in the pub every night. Amy said well he's always nice to me.
James said call it Geri, but Amy said I don't know anyone with red hair called Geri. LeeAnn said yes you do - it's that ginger person (only she didn't say 'person'.) James said oooh you're swearing again LeeAnn, and Amy said don't listen to her, Gary, she doesn't mean it. Donna said oh you mean Chris Evans - no,… he's male, isn't he. I said well, let's hope so for Billie's sake. Fiona said are you talking about pop music again? because I don't listen to that. I said no, football - I forgot you wouldn't know. She believed it - until James and LeeAnn started laughing too much, so she said I've got too much work to do to play around with you even if you've got time to be juvenile, and stalked off.
I've been in England too long - I'm beginning to get the cultural in-jokes. This time last year, I would have believed it was football too. I thought anything as tacky as the Dome would be a success though, so what do I know?
Thursday: AJ came in before I could get out to have a quiet word with me. He wants me to concentrate over the next couple days on documenting Head Office's shipping system, and think about ours over the weekend. He will then discuss it with me on Monday to see if he's right and Head Office's system is better, faster and easier to use than ours. If it is better, faster and easier to use I have to work out an implementation scheme to change ours to match theirs. If it's not better, faster and easier to use I have to work out an implementation scheme for them to change theirs to match ours.
I won't have to do anything of course - I've still got it written up from the last time he asked me, so if he remembers next week I'm covered. I've told him so often it's exactly the same system you'd think it would've registered by now - but apparently not.
Friday: AJ said at the morning meeting he's now given up blaming us for all the problems, as it's become obvious they're not all our fault. He's accepted the fact that most of our problems are caused by our customers - and the main fault is caused by them ordering items too late for us to deliver on time. However, he's decided that because we all can't expect the customers to realize they want something in enough time to order it, we all have to compensate by doing everything necessary to get items made and shipped faster.
James said if it takes three weeks to make something instead of two why doesn't Mike just tell the customers that, and give them longer lead times? Mike said yes I could, but AJ said no you can't do that - the lead times have been agreed with Head Office and we can't change them. LeeAnn said why don't you tell Head Office the lead times are wrong then, but AJ said they're not wrong, they're prefectly attainable - otherwise Head Office wouldn't have set them. We have to believe in ourselves and our ability to meet them. Head Office believe in our ability, and we can't let them down, can we?
After he'd gone to the afternoon meeting at Head Office James said I don't see why we can't let them down - we do with everything else they want us to do. Fiona said they let us down all the time. Donna said two wrongs don't make a right, and we should just ignore it when they complain about us.
Cultural note for those not in UK Chris Evans is a redheaded, middle-age, rich radio and TV presenter - and has suddenly been linked all over the media here with the teen singer Billie Piper, who just happens to have a new album out. Before this he was suddenly linked with Geri Halliwell, a redheaded ex-teen ex-spice, who just happened to have a new album out. All pure coincidence - he said so, so it must be …