Thursday, February 18, 2010

Day 30 - Agony and Ivory

          The closing has to be done by Friday at the latest. Gary wants to beat the deadline. I’ve helped not at all so far. I knew I needed to go in today no matter how bad I felt. My fever was down to 99 and change. I was trying to manage it by alternating acetaminophen and aspirin. I took some hydrocodone to work with me in case the pain got unbearable. I figured If I had to take it I would get my wife to come and pick me up rather than drive home stoned.
          Gary had made good progress in my absence. Helen was a big help in this regard. She and the accounts receivable girl finished the sales schedule, so Gary was ready for me to show him how to lay in the costs of the units sold.
The system breaks costs out into standard and actual labor, overhead, and materials components. We have to go get those costs out of the system and load them into a spreadsheet. We have to do this because there are a lot of other components to cost that the system does not track on a per unit basis. We end up with a spreadsheet that is about 100 columns wide, where each line contains every aspect of the sale, delivery, commission, costs and cost variances, fees, advertizing components, and titling for an individual unit sold. It is hopelessly convoluted and totally ridiculous—not because we have to accumulate all that information, but rather because we have to do it manually.
My predecessor used to key all this data into a spreadsheet by hand. He could key this stuff faster than anyone I have ever seen. He could key a table of numbers faster than my wife can type which is about 110 words per minute. Still I was able to knock about two days off his best closing time because I wasn’t about to key anything I didn’t have to. I found a way to copy and paste back and forth between the spreadsheets and the system to speed up data queries and data entry. It’s still convoluted as hell, but the typing is practically eliminated. Not only that; the potential for making errors in the midst of all that furious typing is reduced to almost nil. This is my real utility to Gary, and the longer we were working at it the more he began, finally, to appreciate that I have come to help him.
By lunchtime my temperature had started edging up again and the pain was raging in my back. It felt like I had been stabbed in the spine with an elephant tusk. I was sweating, and I felt like hell, but I was also turning rapidly into Gary’s best friend in the whole world, which sort of made up for the discomfort. I decided to take a serious pill so I could at least be civil in the afternoon. In half an hour I was too loopy to be of much use, but by then we had got the schedule mostly whipped. Gary finished it easily while I watched. By the time we were finished, the pill had started to wear off and I was able to drive home in relative safety.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are always welcome. Tell me what you like and what you don't. Information, encouragement, criticism--I don't care. A day where I don't learn something new is a day lost to me.