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Saturday, November 26, 2005

... as a bag of spanners

All of my workmates are really nice people. From the coaching pros, to the other receptionists/ duty managers to the catering staff, cleaners and (with the possible exception of the pervert with the defecation movies on his mobile phone) security staff, everyone whom I have worked with at the sports centre has been nothing but friendly. Although, for obvious reasons I cannot wait to get a "proper" job, I think that I will probably miss the staff at the centre, and may well pop in for a chat when visiting the area in the future.

However, niceness aside, one or two individuals can drive me insane. For today's case study let us look at "Michael". A pleasant and generous individual, popular with the customers, he has risen to the exalted position of Duty Manager, a job he has held for 2 years. The problem is that Michael has 2 major flaws.

1) He is as dumb as a bag of spanners. Seriously. This isn't some "I went to university and you didn't, so you are dumb" bullshit - I have a lot of respect for the other duty managers, none of whom went to university. They are very good at their jobs and I've actually learnt a lot about the surprisingly complex world of sport centre management (all of the DMs help draft the centre's business plans etc and are responsible for co-ordinating major events etc). Sadly, however, Michael is one of those individuals who can be told the same thing several times, made to write it down, and yet he still manages to fuck it up. Repeatedly.

2) He lies about his fuck ups. The fuck up then magnifies until eventually it all comes crashing down. Remarkably however, he appears to be untouched by the consequences of his mistake. It seems that when the fuck-up comes to light Michael is either on holiday or on secondment to another sports centre.

An example of the first flaw occured quite recently. It was early one morning and Michael had just gone on holiday. The phone rang and I put a somewhat irate caller through to the DM whose name is given as a contact for all external invoices. A few minutes later she emerges from the office.
"He's done it again! I can't fucking believe it! He's been doing this job for two fucking years and he still can't get it right!"
After some more spleen venting, she explained the situtation. One of Michael's (regular) duties is arranging use of the centre for corporate events. A major corporate client (and thus one that we do not want to piss off) books the centre a few times a year. Michael discusses their needs and quotes them a price. He then fills in an invoice (which has the other DM as a contact for queries on the letterhead) and posts it off to the company's finance dept. It's paid, and the event goes ahead.
"Michael quoted them £1,000 VAT inclusive for the upcoming event" (VAT is the UK's sales tax and is 17.5%).
"I've just had the big cheese at the company demanding to know why the invoice that was sent was for £1,175"
"Michael has added VAT when the VAT was already included in the quote" I realised
"Exactly - it's the 3rd fucking time he's done it!"

Another "Michael Classic" nearly had quite serious consequences and almost got me the sack - it might still be his downfall. Needless to say, I have had to change some details of this story.

Like many sports centres, ours gets some funding from the council to subsidise sports classes for adults and kids. The customers still have to pay for the classes (about £30 for a 6 week course for the adults) but it is a lot less than it would be if they had to pay the full cost of the room bookings, equipment hire and the instructors etc. When the customers pay their course fees, the money goes through the till on a special code. Thus when the till takings are audited at the end of the day, that money can be diverted into the correct budget.
A few weeks ago, the woman in charge of those budgets came out of the office looking panicked.
"I've just looked at my budget and I am hundreds of pounds down. Where the hell is that money, I have to pay a load of bills off that budget".

A cursory glance at the figures for the week, revealed that an impossible number of courts had apparently been paid for by members of the public paying cash at the till. Not only that, the till had a serious shortage the night before.
The implication was clear. I had fucked up royally. Yet I had no memory of doing so. The previous few nights had been quiet and uneventful.
"Who was the DM last night?"
"Michael", I replied. Knowing glances were exchanged.
"Lets have a look at the till audit roll shall we"
The audit roll, was duly unrolled to a length of about 10 metres, and we proceeded to go over every transaction for the past 48 hours.
Eventually the culprit was found. A single transaction of several hundred pounds, cash, over the till logged under general sales. We went to the safe and retrieved that night's takings in their plastic bag. The bag contained about £100 - and a thick wad of cheques. The names on the cheques matched names on the adult courses.
"Sane, you know the procedure for these courses. Put it through on the correct code, and you must differentiate cheque payments from cash payments. No wonder the till was so badly short."
He was right. I do know the procedures. It isn't rocket science, and I've been here a couple of months. I didn't do it.
I then spotted my salvation. The time of the transaction - 2050h. I work until 2100h, so in theory I was signed on to the till. However, the previous night there were no customers and it was pissing down with rain. So at 2030h, Michael said I could go early, and one of the lads from security kindly drove me to the bus stop. The security guard verified my story.

I'm told that Michael has denied all knowledge, but the clock on the till is accurate and the security guard was following his set rounds (which are timed). I've been told privately not to worry. Michael will probably get away with it again, but everyone knows I am blameless.

The irony... a few weeks ago I reminded him that he needed to put the last lot of payments through on the correct code and as cheques...



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