Monday, June 27, 2011

Thirty Years Of Jobbers - Chapter 2-5

Now you may be thinking, ‘How did they pay their fuel bills if they were never entered into the system?’ Here’s a clue: A week later the Feds were in the building auditing the jobber’s books. This resulted in the Feds taking over the business. Back then you paid your fuel taxes in arrears and the Feds pretty mush trusted you to report your liabilities promptly. I don’t remember how long it had been since he last remitted his taxes, and I never understood how he got away with it for so long. All I know for sure is shoddy bookkeeping can result in serious trouble.

Everyone feels the pressure, but the warhorse gets the brunt of it. They stay late, they take it home, they come in on Saturday's and Sunday's to catch up. They neglect their husbands, their children, their grandchildren and their parents. You’d be doing them a favor by getting them some help, but before you choose that route, make it clear why you are doing it. A few may get mad and quit. In some cases it’s the best option. I know these warhorses. They'll run until their hearts burst inside their chests, if that's what they think you expect of them. 

I don’t remember a single incident where a key employee quit while I was doing an installation, but here’s another amusing story that still sets my hair on end:

I got a call from an elderly jobber I’d called on for several years who asked me to come by and talk about selling him a computer system. He had a duck camp way out in the woods. I met him at his office and we rode out to the camp together in his truck. Not long after we got there, he cooked a mess of catfish and his two sons joined us for dinner. It was a “Deliverance” kind of meeting if you get my drift.

As we sat down to eat it was apparent the two boys, who were serving as the bobtail drivers for the company, were dead set against getting a computer of any kind; but the old man insisted. He said he would retire pretty quick and he wanted to leave his dear sons with a system that would see them through the years to come. An argument ensued and they got up and went away mad. I was already beginning to look for a back door, but there I was, out in the middle of nowhere without a paddle. I have to confess, I stayed awake most of the night listening to the old man snore.

The next morning he drove me back to the office and started introducing me to his other employees. There was an elderly woman doing the books and I had her sized up from the get go. I was certain she wouldn’t have anything to do with computers, as I had long been educated in this kind of situation.

To my surprise, she welcomed me with open arms. She had been the warhorse there for thirty years, and she was very excited because, “Finally,” she exclaimed. “Now we are going to find out why there’s 5,000 gallons of diesel missing every month.”

My mind wandered back to the two sons… the Neanderthals that were driving the bobtails, and I immediately pictured my swollen body bumping along the rapids and sailing down the river behind the duck camp. I quickly announced  proudly, it was my opinion a computer wasn’t needed in this environment, excused myself, and refused to answer any of the old boy’s phone calls.

Another scary incident occurred when a warhorse’s husband stopped by the office with a gun to shoot a co-worker of mine. But, that’s another story.

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