I finally started settling into the job after a few weeks. Donna had bought the software I needed to get to work and the site was already just a half dozen major tweaks from being completed. At the start of the third week, I finally got a chance to meet with the Sarahs, who had been working on the site for the previous year and a half.
The Sarahs clearly didn’t like me. They acted as though my presence in Donna’s organization was somehow a threat to them and the older one was condescending and rude when she spoke to me. During our conversation we had a debate regarding the process of putting product up for sale on the site. According to the manual, it was possible to list several hundred items at once by putting them on a spreadsheet and uploading that through the web interface. The Sarahs hadn’t been able to figure this out, however, and were making a passionate argument for inputting one item at a time using the cart’s New Item Wizard, saying that if all three of us worked on it together we could conceivably have a few hundred items up for sale by deadline.
“Look,” I said, “Donna’s goal is to ultimately have several thousand items for sale and listing them one at a time is both inefficient and unnecessary. We’re gonna have to get a handle on uploading with a spreadsheet.”
“Good luck,” said Younger Sarah, “we’ve been trying to figure that out for weeks.” That wasn’t something I’d have considered admitting in public, but I was just meeting them for the first time so I chose to keep quiet.
“Yeah, the upload fails every single time we try it,” chimed in Older Sarah, “In order for that thing to work you have to have every last comma in place.”
“Yeah,” I replied, “that really shouldn’t be an impossible hurdle.”
“I mean it. Every. Single. Comma.” reiterated Older Sarah, a little too dramatically.
“Yeah, I get it,” I said, “I’ll have to manipulate a bunch of text. That’s actually something I can do, believe it or not.”
Donna decided to cut the conversation short before it became an argument, “Alright then, Tim, you keep working on how to use the spreadsheet and the Sarahs will start putting up product one at a time until you do. Sound good?”
“Works for me,” I said, “I’m gonna get back to working on that then,” and I went back to my desk.
As annoying as the Sarahs were, I found them to be mostly amusing. It amazes me how territorial some people get over their work. It’s as though they think their work will one day return the favor. Anyway the bottom line was they couldn’t figure out something as simple as importing items with a spreadsheet, so all I had to do was stand back and give them enough rope to hang themselves, which is exactly what eventually happened.
The next morning I sat down at my desk and discovered that the Sarahs had listed 40 items for sale, which must have taken hours. Still amused, I started working on password protecting the site. A few hours had passed when Kara, one of the bookkeepers, gave me my first paycheck. I opened it and looked at the figure and, for the first time in a very long time, didn’t wonder why I bothered coming in to work. It was nice to have a real income again. Just at that moment, Donna came sprinting into the office.
“Hey when you get a minute I have some questions for you.”
“It’s gonna have to wait, Tim, I’ve got other shit on my plate besides the web site you know.”
“Of course. Just whenever you’re fr-”
“Michelle! Get your ass in my office.” and with that she stormed into her office and Michelle, the senior bookkeeper, followed her, expressionless. I went back to work but about a minute later I could hear Donna shouting at Michelle through her closed door. I did my best to ignore it, but it got louder and then it got mean. Over the next several minutes Michelle was assaulted by a litany of verbal abuse the likes of which I’d never heard from any of my previous employers. I looked around the office and no one seemed to even notice.
The screaming continued, “…we look like fuckin’ idiots. Well, I’m not a fuckin’ idiot. Are you a fuckin’ idiot?”
“Well you sure fuckin’ act like one. Only a fuckin’ idiot would do what you did. I mean what the fuck? What do I fuckin’ pay you for, anyway? Do I pay you to be a stupid fuckin’ idiot?”
“Are you even smart enough to answer a fuckin’ question? Do I pay you to be a stupid fuckin’ idiot?”
“Then quit fuckin’ being one. I’m sick of this shit, man, this is fuckin’ bullshit! Get the fuck out of here.”
Michelle walked back to her desk, still expressionless, as though the last few minutes hadn’t actually happened. A little bit later Donna raced out of the office saying she had to go see her lawyer.
“Jesus Fucking Christ, what just happened?” I asked no one in particular.
“What?” asked Kara, not understanding my question.
“She just went completely fucking ape shit.”
“Oh. Yeah. She does that every payday.” She said this as though it were the most normal thing in the world.
I decided that none of my questions needed to be answered that day.