Thursday, January 07, 2010
Take Aim Fire - Thursday
No sooner has the morning meeting stumbled to a close than the bean counter boss rings.
‘Put him through.’ I tell negotiator S wearily as I traipse to my office with all the enthusiasm of a condemned man en-route to the gallows.
‘Maybe he wants to wish you a happy new year?’ Suggests S naively.
Sometimes her innocence can seem sweet, sometimes grating and misplaced.
Shutting the door and firing up my computer screen, so at least I can appear vaguely knowledgeable when I’m cross-questioned, I wonder, not for the first time, if any man’s capacity for top-down micromanaging is finite. Is it a fleeting few thousand years of civilisation stopping me from tearing the little number-nuts to pieces next time he questions my manhood, or an over-inflated mortgage and a crap endowment policy? Questions, questions.
‘A few queries for you?’ Begins the bean counter in his weasel drone. ‘First I don’t seem to have your target breakdowns.’
‘Really?’ I respond feigning fake surprise and imagining, like many salespeople must do, if a life on the stage wouldn’t have been as bad a choice as the career teacher suggested.
‘You sent them didn’t you?’ Growls the bean counter, causing all thoughts of applying to Equity for my actor’s card to evaporate.
I bluster something unconvincing, and not too well scripted, about the unreliability of the computer system at the moment.
‘Did you ask for a read receipt?’ Quizzes bean counter insistently.
You can see why the little binary bastard got where he is, I think sourly, as I promise to send the figures just as soon as the system re-boots our end.
Truth is I’m still struggling with the breakdown, no, not that one before you ask. Without becoming too technical, estate agency yearly targets are usually reduced back via key ratios, to monthly, weekly, daily and individual goals. Exciting challenges such as number of valuations, new instructions, viewings, offers, gross and net sales, along with financial services objectives, are all diluted to their constituent parts.
My advice to any youngsters out there, advice my own children have eschewed, is to enrol on a science or maths based study path. The pen may be mightier than the sword, but I have a feeling, judging by the number of accountancy geeks in the nations’ boardrooms, that spreadsheets trump manuscripts every time.
Trouble is you are either a word or a figure person as far as I can see. The gift of the gab hasn’t got me too far in truth and the only consolation is, with my income, I won’t need the services of an embezzling accountant in a hurry.
Damn that moron of a maths teacher for being so inept. He still haunts me nearly forty years later. Sometimes I wonder if he’s still alive. Occasionally, as I walk past the somnolent stillness of a sheltered housing dayroom, resident manager alongside, I feel like braving the fug of liniment and stale urine to see if I can find the wastrel. How I’d love to tax his fading brain with an impenetrable algebra equation.
‘Sir, so glad I found you. You won’t remember me, but if four pensioners are sitting in high-backed chairs, each needing liquid-nutrition every five hours. And if Dorota from Poland can feed Ethel and Edna in Y minutes but Margaret with her catheter problem takes X. Now, factor in a health and safety requirement of A minutes rest, per B units of staffing time, and the requirement for Natasha to enrol female Philippine weight-lifting champion Dalisay, to help hoist Norman out of bed at Z seconds per 100 cm’s of elevation - got that? Now, calculate how long until the ex-maths teacher has his incontinence pads changed.’
It seems vindictive but teachers, like parents, shape your future. And because that man had the communication skills of a mute railway announcer and the charisma of a conveyancing clerk, I’m marooned in a numerical black spot. Every morning I endure a more rigorous pat-down than an Amsterdam airport provides, as I check and re-check suit pockets to make sure I have my comfort blanket calculator with me.
The only consolation is I’ll probably never know when my number is up.