If I ever go on vacation again, please don't remind me about days like this. I was on the phone all day, begging, exhorting, coddling, berating, and helping people cover their own asses so that the blame for all the miscues and mishandlings that took place in my absence is spread around, and we can all still work together.
The players in this tragicomic drama were our insurance agency, the California Department of Pointless Paperwork, and the Boss, along with your totally reliable narrator. Back in late June I faxed a request for some insurance certificates to our agent, to be sent directly to the Department. Silly me, I thought he would actually read the part that said "four originals."
A week or so later, just before I left town, I got a call from the Department, to let me know they hadn't received the certificates and would be holding up our contract until they got them. This time I phoned the agent's secretary, since she's the one who does the actual work. Promises were made. Promises were broken.
Apparently while I was gone, the Boss got involved and threw his weight around at the agency, verbally abusing the people whose help we need to keep the state happy. So when I got yet another call from the Department this morning, whining something about how "you people keep telling me you'll take care of it, and I'm still waiting for you to do it," I was in an awkward position.
Since the hard line hadn't worked, I took a softer approach. That might have been a mistake, because the agent's assistant got very defensive. "I didn't know the office would be closed. Your Boss was mean to me. I mailed the copy he asked for a week ago." She had several excuses why my clear instructions of last month were never followed, and the Boss mucked things up by not knowing to ask for four originals instead of just one.
So I called the Department back and talked to the guy who'd reamed me out earlier. He still claimed never to have seen the certificate the agency said they sent him, and this time he wanted it sent by certified mail. And by the way, did he mention they needed four originals?
So I called the agency one more time and apologized for the mix-up (contributed to by everyone involved except me, natch) and relayed the state's request. And for the third or fourth time, I was promised that what should have been a minor problem would be handled. But I don't know. The way the agent's assistant talked to me made me feel as if she were headed for the kitchen to spit in my soup.
And that was all in the first hour of my day. I worked another ten or eleven without many breaks. By tonight I was ready for another vacation (or at least a weekend).