Friday, July 02, 2004

Lila's proposal - WTF is it with all these proposals, anyway??

Monday morning, 6:00 on the dot. My home phone rings. Lila.


"hmmmmmm." I'm not totally awake.

"I need to talk to you." She sounds serious.

Can't just ignore it when a girl talks to you in that tone of voice. Gotta let her know I noticed.

"What's wrong?"

She sighs. "I have a.....proposition for you."

"I'm listening!"

"No, it has to do with work. Can I come in a half-hour early today and talk to you?"

"Sure, Lila."

"See you at 1:30."

Hmm. Wonder what this girl is up to. I wonder if she's angling for a promotion. I doubt it: She just GOT one!

1:30 rolls around. Lila is in my office door, right on time. She comes in and closes the door. Gossipmongers are milling around outside, trying to get scoopage. They don't think I see them, evidently. Idiots.

Lila is a vision today. She is wearing a skin-tight black minidress. There is no trace of an underwear line, anywhere. That means she's probably going commando. Yow!!

"Steve, I have a proposition for you."

Yeah, yeah, whatever. A proposition. I could care LESS about a proposition. I'm thinking about pulling your dress off like a banana peel.

"What's that, Lila?"

"Judith and Thea work for you, right? They do purchasing. You are their boss."


"And they work ALL the way on the other side of the building, in risk management....."

"Because there is no room here on this side."

"Right! And you are always saying how you wish you could put them on THIS side, because all their files are here......"

"...and everytime they need something, they have to trek all the way across the building. Yeah. What about it?"

"What if I came up with a way to bring them over here?"

What is this girl cooking up, anyway???

"I'm listening," I say.

"Why don't we put them in the file room?" She says.

"Lila. That room is too small. And there are 60 boxes of files in there, piled all over the place!"

"It's big enough for two cubicles with dividers. I measured."

Wow! Impressive!

"OK, fair enough. But the boxes...." I begin.

"I'll come in every Saturday and go through the boxes. I'll take all the papers out of the files, pull out the staples, and scan them on our copying machine. Then we can store them on CD's and throw the paper files away, and move Judy and Thea's cubicles to that room!"

Holy shit. Holy SHIT! It's PERFECT!! But it would cost me a buttload of overtime for her to do this on weekends. I'm thinking a couple grand, off the top of my head.

I don't like employees working a lot of weekends. People need to know they can go home on a Friday and not think about work until Monday. Same thing with working late hours.

"That's a long project," I say.

"Here's the plan," she says. She pulls out an Excel spreadsheet. An EXCEL SPREADSHEET, for God's sake! She's made all sorts of calculations about how long the job will take and how much it will cost.

According to her calculations, it's going to take 90 hours to do the job. That estimate is far too low. And she's calculating her pay at $11 per hour, which is her regular hourly rate. Once she goes full-time (July 1), any weekend hours will be time and a half, which is $16.50.

"OK, Lila," I say. "This is a good idea. But we have to correct a few things." I tell her about the overtime and the time estimate.

"Pulling staples out of papers is fairly quick," I say. "But you're going to miss a few, and when you do, there are going to be paper jams when you try to scan the pages. It will take time to clear those. And the scanner really only handles 50 pages at a time. That's not a problem, but you're going to be spending a lot of time renaming files. And I noticed that you haven't budgeted any time for auditing your results."

"Huh?" She looks a little shell-shocked.

"You're proposing scanning these pages and then destroying the paper copies. This is done all the time. But before you destroy them, isn't it worth a double-check to make sure you didn't miss anything?"


"So you'll have to budget time for that. You'll also have to put a few hours in there for unexpected problems that will come up. You aren't going to scan 125,000 pages without a problem or two."

She's starting to look depressed.

"We'll also have to assume that we are going to wear out a couple of rollers on the copying machine," I say, "but that should be covered under warranty. Can you call the copier guys and make sure?"


We amend all her figures based on the revised estimates. The job comes out to $3,000. Fuck. NFW does Ross approve that.

Lila stares down at the floor, frowning. She doesn't say a word.


"Just never mind," she says. "I worked so HARD on this! And now it's just crap. The whole thing is just a big failure." She looks like she's about to cry.

"Lila. Listen," I say. "I still like this idea. But we can't do it for 3 grand. It's too much of an expense just to move some employees down the hall."

"So we can't do it then!"


She looks at me, wide-eyed.

"Every deal has its price!" I say, almost shouting. "" I am emphasizing every syllable. "Now, let's think about what the price is for this deal. How much would Ross go for?"

She shrugs. "Fifteen hundred?"

"No. Think about when you buy a computer at the store. It's a thousand dollars. But they don't charge you a THOUSAND. They charge you $999.99. Why?"

"Because when you look at the price tag......"

"....It looks lower than a thousand, even though it basically is the same!"

"So, what, we should go for $999?"

"Nah, make it $900. He would accept that."

"But we can't DO it for $900. Look at the estimate!"

"That's assuming you do it all as overtime. What if you did the staple-pulling and auditing during work hours? Thursdays and Fridays are dead around here. Heck, we might even be able to get Judy and Thea to help you. And we are already paying you for normal work hours, so there's no additional cost. You can come in and scan on Saturdays, when less people are around the copier."

We check the numbers again. Now It's $960.

"Dammit!" Lila says. "So close!"

"Close enough," I say. "Now, we quote Ross $900, and he approves it, and we hope that we finish under budget."

"But what if we don't?"

"If we don't, the project will be most of the way done by the time we find out. By that time, we'll have to finish it, because we will have invested too much time to stop. Besides, if we are only a few dollars over, I can approve the overtime. I don't even need Ross's signature."

She is smiling. She smoothes her long hair behind her ear. It's shiny. And I can smell apples. She's wearing those giant hoop earrings that I love.



"So can we do it?"

"There's just one other thing," I say.


"Think about it. You know Brad, from risk management? He benefits from this, too. He gets more space for HIS department!"

"So you want him to pay half?"

"MORE than half! MY employee is doing all the work!! Better for it to come out of his budget than mine!"

"Of course!" Lila says.

"Now, I'm going to have to run this by Brad," I say. "And I'll speak to Ross about it tomorrow. If he approves, we're going to have to submit this to accounting on special forms. I'll show you how to fill them out."


"Hey," I say.


"Why are you proposing this, anyway? What do you care about where those two employees work?"

"I need the extra money."

"Why? Is everything ok?"

"Everything is fine, Steve!"

"If it wasn't, would you tell me?"

"YES. I promise. Baby."

"You know what?" I say.

She smirks and puckers her lips at me. "What."

"I LIKE scheming with you."

"Me too."

She walks around to my side of the desk. At one time, I was very firm about us not doing anything in the office. But.....

She licks her big, pouty lips. She kisses me, slowly. Our lips separate. There is a long bridge of spit between us. Why am I strangely turned on?

Now, guys, I am sure you want to know what happened next, later that night. But you already know!