dayjob madness.

My job was insane.

We were trying to launch a product line that consisted of about 500 different cellphone batteries, cigarette lighter adapters, leather cellphone cases, and battery chargers, under two different brand names – one to sell into mass merchants like KMart and Wal-Mart, and the second to sell into electronics stores like Circuit City and The Good Guys.  My boss, who was absolutely manic, wanted to sell the products to as many retailers as possible, and would constantly make changes to the product specifications, pricing, or packaging, in order to get a customer.

Meanwhile, the company had been in business since the early 1960s, and had their own way of doing things.  My boss, a brash, type-A Los Angeles/San Francisco transplant, would literally run around the building, from office to office, speaking at top volume and speed, trying to get his points across.

He would yell “Al!  Come in here!  Now!”

If I wasn’t in his office in ten seconds, he would yell “NOW!!!”

The first month or so was miserable.  I couldn’t believe I accepted this job, with this maniac yelling and screaming and racing around the building.  Then, one day, I heard him on the phone with his wife.  He was screaming at her.  They were trying to make dinner arrangements, and he wanted Japanese food and she wanted something different.  She wanted to go early, and he wanted to give himself more time to get back into the city.

“NO!” he was screaming.  “I’LL NEVER GET HOME IN TIME TO MAKE IT ACROSS FUCKIN’ TOWN BY 7!  MAKE THE RESERVATIONS FOR 8!  I SAID 8!!!

Immediately I realized that if he spoke to his wife that way, he spoke to everyone that way.  

The next day, his wife called the office looking for him, and I answered his phone.  

“It’s great to meet you!” she said to me.

“Well, it’s nice to meet you, too.”

“So – how’s your first month been?” she asked.

“Umm, interesting,” I replied.

“Listen,” she said.  “He’s an impatient guy, and a screamer.  If he’s wrong and you’re right, just scream right back at him.  Don’t take any shit – he’ll respect you more.”

I took that under advisement.

One morning we got our first shipment of batteries for the Motorola Micro TAC flip phone – the most popular cellphone on the market at the time.  When we received a shipment of products (which were almost all imported from Asia), we would take ten or 20 samples and send them to our engineering and quality control departments, where they would be tested.  If they met our specifications, they were accepted into inventory.  If they did not, the engineer would fill out a rejection report and forward it to me.  Then, I would make the decision whether to reject the shipment and send it back to Asia, or to accept the shipment anyway.

I got a call from Danny, the engineer, who asked me to come over to his building and review the performance of the shipment.

“They’re not even close,” he explained.  “The manufacturer used the wrong cells, and these batteries are only going to give you half the talk time that you need.”

Batteries were measured in terms of milliamp hours (mAh) – still are – with the higher the mAH rating, the longer they’d work.  These batteries were supposed to be 1100 mAh batteries, and instead they were testing out to something like 800.  

Meanwhile, we had our first order – I believe it was for KMart – for something like 2,000 batteries – that had to be shipped within two weeks.

I rejected the batteries.

I went back to my office and got my boss.

“I rejected the Motorola batteries that came in today,” I said.

What?!” he screamed.

I spoke even more calmly.  “I rejected the batteries.  They didn’t meet spec.”

“How bad were they?” he said.

“They’re testing out to 800 mAh; they’re supposed to be 1100.”

“That’s good enough.  Accept them.”

I stopped for a minute, and looked at him.  “No.”

No?!” he screamed.  “What the fuck do you think this is?  I’m your boss!”

“And you told me to never let you let product in the door that didn’t meet spec,” I explained.  “These don’t meet spec.  I rejected them.”

“Great,” he said.  “It’s our first fucking order and you’re gonna reject it.  You have no idea what you’re doing.  Call Danny and accept the batteries.”

“No.”

“Look, Al,” he said.  “I appreciate what you’re doing.  But this is our first order.  We have to ship it on time.  Accept the batteries, build the products, and ship it.”

“No.”

“Goddamn it,” he said “I said accept the fucking batteries.

“I don’t care what you said,” I said.  “If you want to accept the batteries, go over to engineering and sign the fucking paper yourself.”

“What did you say to me?” he asked.

“I said, sign the fucking paper yourself.  If you’re going to accept a shipment that should be rejected, then it’s your ass, not mine.  I want your signature on the paper.  So when KMart decides that the product sucks, and they cancel the rest of their orders, I can show everyone your signature on the paper, overriding mine.”  

Fucking GREAT,” he screamed.  “Why don’t we just go out of business?!  Just shut the fucking doors right now?  I’ll call KMart and tell them that we’re no longer in business.  This whole fucking company is shutting down because you won’t accept the batteries.”

“I don’t give a shit what you tell KMart,” I yelled.  “So long as you don’t tell them that I signed off on shitty product, and it’s my fault that their customers are returning their cellphone batteries.”

He walked into his office and slammed the door.  I saw the light on my phone turn on, an indication that he was on his line.  I could hear him talking, but couldn’t make out what he was saying.

My office door opened.  It was the receptionist.  “Is everything okay in here?” she whispered.

“Fine,” I said.  I was still staring at his phone line, wondering who he was talking to.

“You guys are loud,” she said.  Then she walked out.

I stared at his phone line.  Who was he calling?  Was he calling over to engineering, to override my decision?  Was he calling the owner of the company?  Was he calling Human Resources, to arrange for me to be fired?  

What would I do if I lost my job?  Was it too late for me to go back to the cellular company and get my old job back?  Would I have to beg?  We definitely couldn’t live on Sandy’s income alone.

His phone light turned off.  I waited.  About twenty minutes went by – what the hell was he doing in there?  I imagined him inside, filling out paperwork for my termination.  I was sure I was about to be shitcanned.  

His door opened and he walked out.  “Let’s go get a hot dog,” he said.

Obediently, I spring up from my chair and followed him out the door and into his car.  We made the five minute drive to Rutt’s Hut in Clifton, in silence.  Rutt’s Hut made awesome hot dogs, but it was a shitty place to get fired.

We ordered our hot dogs, brought them into the restaurant area, and sat down.

“Do you like Little Richard?” he asked.

“Huh?”

“Do you like Little Richard?”

“Not really,” I said.  “You?”

“I just got his box set,” he said.  “My friend is a producer in L.A., and he sends me records he’s involved with.  He sent me the Little Richard box set, and I was wondering if you’d like to have it.”

My life was getting weirder and weirder.

“I’m not really a fan,” I said.

“How about James Brown?” he asked.  “Do you like James Brown?”

“I like James Brown,” I said.

“Me too.”

“How about Jefferson Airplane?”

“Definitely.”

“I went to a party with Jorma Kaukonen once.”

We finished up our hot dogs.

“Let’s go,” he said.  He got up, threw his plate and cup in the trash, and walked out the door, with me racing to keep up with him.  We got in the car and drove back to the office.

He never mentioned the shipment of batteries again.  The batteries were rejected, new batteries were flown in from China to fill the KMart order, and we moved on.

~ by Al on March 30, 2009.

11 Responses to “dayjob madness.”

  1. Ugh…. Rutt’s Hut… those dogs are fucking NASTY. You DO NOT deep fry a hot dog until it’s skin splits open. They taste like oily old-man pants.

  2. When would you have eaten oily old-man pants?

  3. First of all, I LOVE Rutt’s Hut hot dogs – second only to Hiram’s or Callahan’s.

    Second of all – yeah, about the oily old-man pants thing. That’s a story I need to hear.

  4. I once had lunch with Big Mike (R.I.P) at Nathan’s in Hoboken… right across the street from my old apartment. Let’s just say there was a fumble and part of my lunch may have come into contact with his trousers. Yeah, the last bite tasted just like a ripper from Rutt’s.

  5. I prefer Hot Grill to Rutt’s Hut, but either way I think getting fired at a hot dog place would be an awesome story to tell years later.

  6. Well, I’m glad I didn’t get fired. The hot dogs would have sucked then.

  7. The way Big Mike used to spit when he talked, I don’t think I would have went anywhere near him with food.

  8. […] Dayjob Madness.  My new dayjob was […]

  9. […] Dayjob Madness.  I fight with my boss. […]

  10. Very strange: I moved back-east in the early 90s (94) to open a distribution center for Norm Thompson Outfitters. At that time I started surfing the web w/old Netscape. My handle was dayjob with no number. We relocated back to Oregon 4.5 yrs later and by the time I got back to OR and the web…I was dayjob51. Damn that hurt…not sure why, but it did. I have two e-ddresses one dayjob51 and one rayjob. Did something right and retired at 55, so now I’m NoJob. It’s a goodjob though…I bet it beats the hell out of a nosejob, I bet. But not a b—job, if ya know what I mean. Did I type that out loud?

  11. Best. Comment. Ever.

    Welcome to the blog, Dayjob. We have a band with a record coming out in May, and it’s got a song on it that seems like it’s just for you – if you remember to come back to dromedary-records.com, please do.

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