It was the company's year end this week, and I got sucked back into the secret world of undercover accountancy.
Monday: AJ called us together for the morning meeting and said he'd decided over the weekend to implement a "structured" policy. He tried to explain his grand plan, but I didn't get it and in the end it didn't matter. The first person to say anything was James, and he reminded AJ it's our month end this week and it's also the company's year end. AJ said yes, everybody please remember to leave James alone this week - he's got to get all the papers done for Head Office up to Friday's date. If anybody's got any accounts sheets or expense sheets still outstanding, or anything to sign off, get them to James by Friday. James said there's a few invoices I'm waiting for, but Fiona said you've still got them, AJ. AJ said yes, well, you get the rest done, and I'll get them worked out and to you by Friday, and then he disappeared fast in to his office - so that pretty much ended the meeting.
Fiona said it's OK, James, I've kept copies of all the invoices he's got so you can go ahead.
We all stood around trying to work out what grand plan AJ wanted us all to follow this week, apart from James. James followed AJ to talk to him, but we'd all given up trying to work out if AJ was thinking and - if so - what was he thinking, before he finally came back out, so I wasn't really paying that much attention when he came over to my office, smiling. He said you doing anything much this week? I said yes, lots - why? he said no you're not. AJ's told me you've got plenty of spare time so you can help me key in all the figures - normally Amy does it, but this year I asked for you. I said no way, but he said it's too late - AJ's given you to me, and now you're mine.
I went straight in to see AJ, and he told me yes, James asked me for your assistance to key in all his databases and I knew you'd be only too happy to co-operate with your colleagues. I said what about the shipping? so he said I'm sure you'll be able to put that on hold for a while - it's more important to get Head Office's figures right, isn't it.
I told Donna she'd have to do any shipping paperwork this week, as AJ says the Head Office figures are more important than the customers. Donna said well, it is the budget, and it's only once a year - we might even get a pay review. I said up or down? and moved in to James' office for the week.
Tuesday: James said you know, we're getting on faster this year, you haven't lost the database once yet. I said oh, was that what Amy was doing last year? and he said yes, five times.
He went out to see if he could prise out some of the invoices AJ still had and came in with some of them, but he hadn't got them all. He was smiling though so I asked what is it. He said AJ's a moron - I told him I'd take the ten minutes to drive it over to Head Office once we'd finished it, like I do every year, but he said I couldn't go during works time as it would cost too much, so I'm to ask Amy to get a courier in to take it.
I remember why I've always liked playing with figures now - they're much easier to manipulate than people. The only problem is I never knew just how small the company's profit margin was before. It's a little worrying.
Wednesday: LeeAnn put her head around the door and called me out because the big printer wasn't working after the lunchbreak again. Walked over, pulled Mike's mobile charger, told this was it and I was getting so tired of threatening him with LeeAnn and I'd tell her what he was doing real soon now if he didn't stop it, and plugged the printer back in.
I said have you got your expense sheet for last week? and he said yes. He got it out, but said I can't give it to you, you're not authorized to look at it, I have to give it to James. I said well, I'm going back in there now - give it me and I'll give it him, but he said no. I said it's OK, I won't read it, but he followed me over to James' office and gave it to James himself. James said thanks, and gave it straight to me to put the figures in the database.
As Mike turned to go I noticed there were two expense sheets - one for last week and one for this week too. I said hold on a minute, how come you've given us this week's, and you've got today, tomorrow and Friday filled in already? but Mike said it's OK, I know what I'll be doing so I've been able to work it out. I said and what if there's an emergency call up to Scotland or something but he said well, I wouldn't be able to go until Monday, that's all. James said that's OK, we'll let it go this time - just get it on and I'll worry about Mike later. Mike said thanks James, then looked a little worried.
Thursday: I finally gave in and asked James if the profit margin figure was really that low. He looked surprised at first, but then said oh, you used to work for a big company, didn't you? I guess that explains it.
Later that afternoon I asked James why the company didn't start the year at the tax year, or after the Christmas break or something, and he said because of historical accident. He said he'd been told the first year the company traded they'd planned to have it start at the same time as the official tax year but they hadn't got the first set of accounts done in time so they'd had to wait a month. I said why didn't the company just bring it in to line then, but he said make a decision and stick to it? - you're so naive sometimes. I said oh, OK, and I wonder what's happened to the Marketing team trying to rebrand our item? He said I'd forgotten that - do you think they'll ever get around to it? I said make a decision and stick to it? - you're so naive sometimes, James.
I didn't give him back his eraser for a while, because he'd only have thrown it at me again.
Friday: AJ put his head around the door before the morning meeting and said you two don't have to come, and LeeAnn put her head around the door after the morning meeting to tell us we hadn't missed a thing. Fiona came in with her last book, and said she'd just ruled off the financial year where she'd said she would, and Donna'd decided not to invoice anything today at all so we could carry on and use yesterday's figures - so that was OK.
It's been pretty good this week, with James working out the budget figures and me feeding them in and moving them where he wants them. We've worked well together and we finally finished and checked things through at half nine this morning. The best of it is they all add up - if you add in the invoices AJ's still got.
James said well, that's it, and we went out to ask Amy to book the courier to pick up at four. Amy said I can get them in for twelve if you've finished, but James said no, we've finished all we've got, but now I have to explain them to AJ and get those invoices he hasn't given us yet - expect me when you see me. He went in at ten, and came out again just before the lunchbreak with the last of the invoices AJ's been sitting on and said you know, it gets harder every year.
AJ came in just before he left to go to the afternoon meeting at Head Office, and asked if we'd finished yet. James said not quite. He said fax all the sheets to Head Office as soon as you do, but it's a shame we couldn't have got them finished earlier in the month really. He then said you ought to send copies of all the papers by post as well, just in case. James said yes, Amy's got a courier coming in to pick up a set, and AJ said you should send two sets - one by courier and one by post - that way if one doesn't get throught the other will. James waited until he'd gone before he said moron. I said it's those Soviet spies hanging around outside again, James, the courier might not get through. James said it's not as if anyone would want it. I said good work 007, so he threw his eraser at me again.
LeeAnn put her head around the door and said well, will we get raises this year or not? and James said we made a profit but the group as a whole didn't - so probably not.
We finally finished at four, just before the courier was supposed to come in, and James copied a set for them to take then started in to faxing it out to Head Office while I closed the database and working sheets down. The courier was only forty-five minutes late so we left by half five.