WARNING: Long Rant Ahead!
I work for an insurance company. My job, at its most basic, is that of a human spell-checker. My department spell-checks all the policies before mailing them out. (And no, it’s slightly more complex than just “spell-checking”, so a computer can’t do it. Thank the gods, or I wouldn’t have a job, right?) I have the specific task of checking/mailing the policies with refund checks in them. After several years of complaining that I don’t have a backup person for when I’m gone or hopelessly backlogged, my boss finally decided to train someone to help me out…without telling me about it.
So every day I go downstairs where the checks are printed and grab my department’s (PI) and also the UW department’s checks, tossing the UW checks to the designated clerk on my way back to my desk. I then sort through it all and basically do my job.
Wednesday, my boss assumed I was backlogged. I’m not sure why, but she did, and out of the goodness of her heart asked a coworker to go get the checks and sort through them for me. No one mentioned this to me, so I go downstairs to grab checks only to find the PI checks missing and the UW checks sitting on the shelf. Looking at the sign-out form, both stacks of checks have been signed out by the coworker.
I shrugged it off, grabbed the UW checks, and handed them off to the UW clerk. I asked my boss what’s up, she told me about asking someone else to grab checks because I’m behind. I explained that I’m not behind. She shrugged it off, and told me to get the checks from the coworker.
So I go to the coworker and tap her on the shoulder. I said, and I’m quoting here, “Hi…uhm, I usually do those.” She hands me the checks, and I get to work.
Thursday, my boss told me she asked the coworker to get the checks so she can train to be my backup. Cool, no problem. A little later in the day, the coworker handed me the sorted stack so I can mail them. Nifty.
Nagging thoughts…nagging thoughts…why do they nag so much?
Just to be on the safe side, I emailed the UW clerk and asked her if she got her checks. She emailed back that no, she hadn’t gotten them yet. I went downstairs, and just like Wednesday, both stacks were signed out, but only PI checks were taken. I grabbed the stack, handed it to the UW clerk, and got on with my day.
Friday (that’s yesterday for those keeping track), I didn’t want a repeat performance of the past two days, so I emailed the coworker.
The following is the entire email conversation that ended up pissing me off. All typos, grammar, etc have been kept intact - [names changed for obvious reasons]
If you’re getting checks today, let me go downstairs with you. Either [boss] didn’t explain properly or you just glossed it over, but the past two days you’ve forgotten to get UW checks, and I had to get them for [UW clerk].
ARE THEY NOT TOGETHER? I THOUGHT THEY WERE
The cabinet where Accounting puts the checks labels the stack as “PI/UW”. Truthfully, it’s just PI’s checks. UW is the stack next to it. [Boss] just handed me the voucher. I’ll take you down and show you if you like.
That spot on the check where you see who ordered it - ours say “PI___”; theirs say “UW___”
I’M NOT STUPID…IF THEY’RE NEXT TO EACH OTHER THEN ENOUGH SAID…YOU CAN GO GET THEM YOURSELF….THANKS, [COWORKER]
I didn’t say you were stupid. I just know it’s easily confusing. Even after [boss] showing me where the checks were, it took a couple of hours and an email from [UW clerk] for me to figure out I’d skipped something. Sorry if I accidentally insulted you.
NO PROBLEM!!!YOU SEEMED TO HAVE AN ATTITUDE THE OTHER DAY WHEN [BOSS] TOLD ME TO GET THE CHECKS AND NOW THIS…….I AIN’T THE ONE…I THOUGHT I WAS DOING YOU A FAVOR BY HELPING YOU OUT BUT SINCE YOU WANT TO MAKE ME LOOK LIKE AN IDIOT THEN YOU CAN DO IT YOURSELF AND I’LL JUST DO IT WHEN YOU’RE NOT HERE………THANKS AND HAVE A GREAT DAY.
I stopped at that point because 1) I’d already apologized for her mistake once, I’ll be damned if I’m going to do it twice; 2) if I had responded it would have been seen as purely personal (whereas everything previous had had some work-related basis) and personal emails are strictly forbidden; and 3) my last resort would have been to tattle to the boss and drag her into what was basically a personal matter (something I would hate to do and something my boss wouldn’t want to get into).
The following is the email I really really REALLY would have liked to send if my job hadn’t been on the line.
There seems to have been a massive breakdown in communication between us. Please clarify your last email, specifically as it relates to these points…
1. BASIC NETIQUETTE STATES THAT TYPING IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS IS CONSIDERED YELLING. Are you, in fact, yelling at me, or is this just the way you type?
If so, why are you yelling? It is quite rude, and I cannot recall doing anything to warrant such rudeness to be directed at me.
If not, it is still quite annoying. Please consider using lowercase letters with an occasional capital one where considered appropriate by the basic rules of English grammar.
2. “You seemed to have an attitude the other day when [boss] told me to get the checks…”
To what sort of attitude are you referring? I had no idea I had been given help, and when I inquired, I was confused as to why [boss] thought I was backlogged and needed assistance. I’ll admit to being slightly thrown for a loop when I walked up to your desk, but I fail to see how “Hi…uhm, I usually do those” could be construed as “attitude”.
3. “I ain’t the one…”
My apologies, it seems I am far too accustomed to proper grammar, which usually involves full sentences. You’re not the one who what? Started this argument? Needs a high school textbook? Has insecurities issues that cause her to turn an offer of help into a personal attack?
4. “…but since you want to make me look like an idiot…”
That was never my intention. In fact, I have already apologized for the possibility that I may have done that unintentionally. Why do you think I want to make you look like an idiot?
5. “…then you can do it yourself and I’ll just do it when you’re not here…”
I know the job is pretty simple, but questions can come up. If I’m not here, there is no guarantee that [boss] can answer any questions you may have during the day. After all, I have been doing this job longer than she has been in this department. Sorting is just the start of the job, and you need to be trained on all of it if you’re going to be effective as a backup.
6. “…Thanks and have a great day.”
This entire email, and the one previous, has been a harsh reaction to a perceived insult. An insult which, by the way, I never gave. Quite frankly, the insult started with you, and you can keep it. Do not think for a moment that tossing off some pleasantry at the end of something that was clearly inflammatory will fool me for a moment.
Please respond, as I would like to get this shit over with and get on with my life.
PS: Before this little exchange, I did not think you were stupid or an idiot. However, I have been reminded of the old saying “’Tis better to be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” Thank you for demonstrating your mental capacity to me.