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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Escape from the hospital

Before I start this story, I’d like to state that there are a few things you can do to save your loved ones at least $12,000. First of all, make sure you always have a key to where your loved ones live. Second, make sure that your loved ones never let their health insurance lapse. Third, you may want to discuss an emergency plan with you loved ones if they ever lose consciousness.
My dad suffers from epilepsy and occasionally gets seizures which knock him unconscious. This typically happens every 2 to 3 months. When he gets knocked out, it is my mom who renders aid to him while he recovers.

It was a few years ago when my mom decides to take a whole month off to travel to another country. While she was gone, I made sure to check up on my father multiple times a week. I recall this incident happened on Easter.

I was at home and called father to check up on him. He didn’t answer so I left a message and asked him to call me back. Since I was hungry, I drove off somewhere to go pick up a pizza. After some more hours passed, dad still didn’t call me back and I was getting worried. He wasn’t returning my calls.

Fearing the worst, I got in my car and started driving towards his shop (he lives there). When I get there, his truck is there, the door is locked, and the lights are turned off. I knock on the doors but I hear nothing. For about 30 minutes, I try anything I can do to make noise or look for a key or a way to breach into the shop. I even thought about smashing the glass in order to get in and check on my father. I thought about calling the police to breach the building but I had a feeling father wouldn’t want me to do that.

Dad is unconscious and could possibly be dead. I don’t have a key so I can’t confirm his condition. I hope for the best and head on home. Maybe he will recover the next day.
The next day, I get up and drive to my office to get some work done. Sometime before lunch, I get a call from the hospital downtown. I don’t know how he got there but the nurse told me she got my phone number by checking father’s phone. I had called at least 16 times so they must have assumed I was family. Apparently, my father got the will to try to work and serve some customers but the customers noticed father was in terrible shape. They called an ambulance and got father admitted to the hospital in the ER/Trauma Center.

I’m relieved that he isn’t dead so I inquire about his status. The nurse says that he is conscious but his mental capacity is greatly diminished. Apparently father thinks it is the year 1955. Regardless, I just want to see him to know that he is okay.

I send an email to my boss asking if it is okay if I leave work one hour earlier at 4pm so I can visit father. He sees my email and lets me off of work right away.
I drive towards home and stop by the mass transit rail station. I boarded the train downtown, walked past my old college, and into the hospital’s trauma center. When I see him, he is strapped to a cot, dressed in a hospital gown, has an IV tube stuck in his arm, and has a neck brace holding him down.
I see bruises on his head but he can recognize me and we talk for a little bit. I can ask him some basic questions but he isn’t all together there. His responses are pretty short and off. He is disoriented and doesn’t really know what happened to him. He can’t remember much.

After 15 minutes, a nurse moves the curtains back and walks in. I spend a little time pressing her for information. Luckily, she tells me where father’s items are. As I open a drawer, I see a plastic bag that contains his clothes, phone, and wallet inside. A gut wrenching feeling hits me in the stomach and I look through father’s wallet. I find his insurance card and the coverage period is valid unfortunately father had discussed with me weeks earlier that somehow his coverage lapsed and he was trying to get a different insurance policy. It was very possible that father didn’t have any coverage at this point in time.

More staff enter the space and move father from the trauma center to the 4th floor of the hospital. I follow along with father’s stuff. As we settle into the new room, I place his items on the table next to him. A doctor comes in to examine him and I inform the doctor about father’s condition. After 30 minutes, I feel okay leaving father at the hospital. I wouldn’t be able to give him better care at home and I don’t think the hospital would have discharged father if I asked them to.

I go to work Tuesday morning and then visit father at the hospital after work. Unfortunately, he still hasn’t regained his full mental capacity and can’t answer basic questions. I also wasn’t able to locate father’s items. Father still thinks it is 1955. Regardless, I do my best to comfort him a little and tell him to try to get his memory back. After he does that, we can take him home.

I go to work Wednesday morning. Sometime after 11 am, I get a phone call from the hospital and it is father. He sounds week and miserable but he is mostly back to normal. He knows who he is and he can answer complex questions again. He begs me to get him out of there. After work is done, I head over to the hospital and find father. I locate him and start guiding him out of the hospital until I realize that he doesn’t have any of his stuff. He is still dressed in the hospital gown and doesn’t even have any shoes on. For the next 90 minutes, we start sweeping each room he was located in over the last 3 days in order to find father’s phone, wallet, and clothes. We end our search at the lost and found and unfortunately, we turn up empty handed. Father comes to the conclusion that hospital staff might have stolen his items. We leave the hospital without father’s clothes or items.

He is still in the hospital gown and barefoot so I ask him to stay as close to me as he can so he doesn’t draw any attention. After a quarter of a mile, we make it to the rail station and there are some police stationed there. I make sure father is as close to me as possible and get him through the entrance. Father and I board the train, unfortunately a 20 minute ride becomes 40 minutes when the train breaks down. When we finally get to my car, I start driving home and I get father some fast food for dinner. I’m so glad to be home but I can’t let father be alone on Thursday. I asked my boss if I could work from home on Thursday to get my dad situated and my boss agreed.

Thursday morning arrives and I wake up and start working from home. After a few hours, I get father ready to go to his shop and start figuring things out. Unfortunately, the hospital couldn’t locate father’s items. Without father’s keys, we can get into his shop, drive his car, or use his money. Our only hope is that father did not lock the doors before he was taken by the ambulance.

We arrive at father’s shop and pull the door handle only to find that it is locked. With anguish, we start to consider our options. We drive to a fire station to see if they can breach the door but no one is there. Father decides to just breach the property himself. However, he doesn’t want to smash the glass to get in. By 11 am, one of his tenants arrive and we get access to suite A of the building. Father’s workplace is located in suite E, so father decides the best idea is to climb up into the ceiling in suite A. From there, he can crawl across the I beams of the property and pop out the ceiling into suite E. Unfortunately, each suite is separated by a firewall. The only solution father his is to bust through the firewalls with a 20 pound weight. As he does this, he unlocks the doors of each suite and I see him climbing up on the I beams to make it to the next firewall in order to bust it open. The whole time, I’m worried father will fall and injure himself again. But thankfully, that doesn’t happen and father breaches suite E and gains access to some of his cash and a spare key for his truck.

The ordeal isn’t over yet. Since father lost his keys to the shop, there is always a risk that someone could break into his shop and steal his stuff. We spend the next hour or two going to a lock smith to get new locks for his shop and new keys. This mostly ends the ordeal on my end.

Days later, my mom arrived back in America and we retrieved her from the rail station.

Weeks to months afterwards, we learn that father had no insurance coverage at the time he spent in the hospital. While he was there, the hospital staff ran every test on father to make sure he didn’t suffer head/brain trauma. The final bill of the hospital visit came out to be $12,000.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

How I committed economic suicide (part 6)

Thank you everyone who has read up to this point. This last post concludes an unfinished work for a book that I may or may not finish or publish at some point in the future. This last post concludes the backlog of work I've written in the last few years. I'll start producing new content afterwards.


April 2013
For the month of April, I spent a total of $994.86. I went way past budget but I was okay spending the money because I got the news I was hired to be an accountant. My auto insurance was $191 and my health insurance was $41.91. I spent $92.65 on fast food be eating out 20 times. Before starting a new job and commute, I wanted to take care of my car a little bit. I spent $181.14 on two tires to replace my front tires and $30 to get them installed on my car. I bought a bicycle for $100.64 just because I wanted to ride a bicycle from time to time before my job started in May. I spent $10 to enter a skatepark and another $34.93 on wristguards. I spent $26.93 on groceries. I spent $32.82 on new clothes to get ready for my new job. I also spent $43.18 on DVDs.

May 2013
For the month of May, I spent a total of $652.20. My auto insurance was $191 and my health insurance was $41.91. I spent $125.33 on gas by filling up my tank 4 times. I spent $45.80 on fast food by eating out 11 times. I spent $130.35 eating at other restaurants at least 8 times. I spent $21 on clothes. I spent $31.10 on groceries. I spent $25.21 on recreational activities like bowling and swimming.

June 2013
For the month of June, I spent a total of $631.16. My auto insurance was $191 and my health insurance was $41.91. I spent $148.41 on gas by filling up my tank 5 times. I spent $27.62 on fast food by eating out 6 times. My new office was located in a building that had a restaurant and I started eating there frequently. I spent $59.10 by eating there 13 times. I spent $35.44 on some new clothes for work. I spent $40.28 on groceries. I spent $15.86 on a pair of knee pads.


Sunday, May 14, 2017

How I committed economic suicide (part 5)

When I completed recording daily transactions, I turned my attention back to the project my boss gave to me. I was able to download a template to try to figure out how to import transactions into our accounting system. The template looked like a complete mess and I spent at least an hour trying to figure out which fields imported figures. After trial and error, I was able to finally get something to import into our system however it barely had any information on it. If something was in the wrong place or format, the import would fail so I had to change only one field at a time before importing. If I changed too many fields and got an error, I couldn’t be sure what the cause of the error was. I was able to import transactions with a few fields such as customer ID, transaction amount, and item however there were several things I could not import. I couldn’t figure out how to import the currency and exchange rate. More importantly, I wasn’t able to figure out how to make the import flow to the correct accounts.

After spending too much time trying to figure out the import process, I didn’t have much to show. At my boss’s suggestion, I decided to look up what macros were. I spent some time doing some research and found out that macros are like hot keys for spreadsheets. When recording a macro, the spreadsheet will record every mouse click, function, and keystroke until the recording stops. In the beginning, I created some simple macros that would automatically format sales data and eliminate excess data. It wasn’t the legendary one button fix but it helped to save a little bit of time recording daily sales.

My workload continued to increase. My boss took the time to train me how to set up the payments to the vendors. We had an online platform where we could set up and release payments to our vendors via ACH or wire transfers. As I logged in, I saw that we had preset templates for each of our different types of vendors. Here, I would take the information from our vendor payment report and enter the payments individually into the vendor set up in the templates. One thing that I noticed was that ACH templates had multiple vendors included but there were no templates for wire transfers. My boss then explained to me that only vendors based in the United States can receive payments via ACH. Vendors with with banks located overseas could only receive a payment via wire transfer. The biggest differences between the payment methods was twofold. First off, ACH payments take one business day to clear while wire payments would hit the vendor’s bank on the same day. The second biggest difference was that ACH transactions cost us a few cents while wire transfers cost us $10 per wire. For this reason, we wanted to send as few wires as possible.

After I was done setting up the payments, my boss would release them and the funds would be debited from our bank account. This system was in place for proper separation of duties.

I would come to dread Wednesday’s for some time because of vendor payments. When I was first learning to set up payments, I could find every vendor in the preset templates. However, there were weeks when we had vendors that were nowhere to be found in the templates. When this happened, I usually had no idea how to pay the vendor. This resulted in me having to pull people’s teeth to find out what the vendor was, where it came from, and most importantly the banking information. Finally after I retrieved the necessary information, I would have to figure out how to add it to the existing template or set up the wire individually. ACH payments were a pain to add because adding the vendor to an existing template required my boss to approve the template before I could set up payments. Setting up individual wires was a little easier but it would be a challenge if the banking information on the invoice was confusing or incomplete. Furthermore, there were often times vendors which got paid by credit card and I didn’t know what to do for those vendors.

Some of the worst nightmares occurred when the banking information was not clear. Invoices from foreign vendors would include multiple account numbers, methods of payment, and SWIFT codes. On a few instances, the payment wouldn’t reach the destination because the account number was used instead of the IBAN. In one particular instance, I had to send the same payment to one of our vendors over five times because we couldn’t figure out why the payment was being rejected. Every time, I remembered the worst feeling was when Barbara saw an amount credited to our bank account and was asking me if it was due to a returned payment.

The one bit of relief I could remember was when I got to take Mei Ling out to dinner in August. I was happy that she agreed to go. After all, it had been months since I could spend one one one time with a woman. The restaurant that we went to was unique in that it sat on an airstrip and you could watch biplanes take off and land while you were eating. The restaurant was based off of World War II and featured a lot of memorabilia and decor from the era. As soon as I picked her up, everything just felt natural. It felt like I was talking with Julia again. While eating chicken and steak, I was bringing up any interesting story or anecdote I could just to engage her or get her to laugh. Even though we had known each other for years, we never really got to know each other very well and we never talked as much to each other during those few hours.

It was my motivation to just get her to take Julia’s place. Forget all about Julia and experience this new woman. I was confident that I could make something happen with Mei Ling. After the night, I felt like I was riding high. Unfortunately, I tried to make a few advances over the next few weeks and months but I could never get a connection. I just gave up on her after a while and she found another boyfriend months or a year afterward. It was disappointing that I couldn’t make anything happen but it wasn’t as disappointing as what I had realized.

If things had worked out with Mei Ling, then I would have just completely forgotten about Julia and have completely disregarded her. I would have denied her very existence and all the experiences that we shared together would have been null and void. There was nothing special about Julia. She was just a girl I wanted to have sex with. Most likely, she viewed me the same way. All we did was use each other. Thinking about relationships in that way makes it hard to believe in love in any sense. Unfortunately, despite this revelation, I would still continue to think about her.

Back at work, the drudgery continued. There were a few days when I arrived at the office and received an email stating that one of our vendors shut off our service due to us running past our credit limit. Everytime this happened, I panicked and felt like I was running around like a headless chicken. Most of the time this happened, my boss would berate me for not having set up a big enough payment to our vendors. He had a good reason to do this as our telecom staff would have to scramble to communicate with our vendors and beg them to restore our service. The would also have to try to figure out how to reroute traffic until service was restored.

Towards the end of July and beginning of August, I felt like I was screwing up almost everything I tried to do. I was also nervous that my performance was so poor that my boss would fire me but that didn’t happen. It was the latter part of 2013 that caused me to change my perspectives on life. I was in a miserable place and I kind of gave up on the prospects of ever owning a home. If living like the average American meant enduring two hours of traffic a day, working 12 hours a day, working extra hours on the weekend, and waiting in fear each day of getting berated by your supervisors then I wanted no part of it. I would rather just never move out of my parents house. I would get a job working minimum wage stocking shelves at a grocery store and do that until I died. And why shouldn’t I? I didn’t want to have any wife or kids, buy expensive cars, or travel to Italy. I had no real reason to work hard or achieve anything. I would work just hard enough to sustain myself until death. It was an idea that I toyed with but I did my best just to endure my current lot in life.

In August, the independent contractor program started to destroy my life. Up until August, all of the contractors took their payments in US dollars. During August, the marketing team decided it would be a good idea to let contractors take payments in their native currency. Now we had contractors that also took Canadian dollars, Euros, Australian dollars, and British pounds. This caused an absolute mess for accounting purposes and would take several months to eventually resolve. During the end of August, I tried to make the closing journal entries for the independent contractors only to get error messages in our accounting system whenever foreign currencies were involved. During that time period, I vowed that if I ever took another accounting job, I would make sure it was US based only and did not deal with foreign currencies.

The first problem occurred was that half of our independent contractors switched over to a different currency. Before moving forward with the accounting, I had to make sure that the contractors US accounts were closed and did not have any more activity. After that, I had to make sure to open up new liability accounts for the independent contractors in the foreign currency they had requested. Afterwards, I’d have to find the date when our IT staff transferred the liability from the US account to the foreign account and record the transfer as a journal entry with the correct exchange rate. Figuring out how to do all these steps took me several weeks to figure out mainly because I had to egg and prod as many people as I could to get the entire picture. It was like getting one small puzzle piece every time I asked something how to do something. I also was working with Lenny to try to figure would what kind of transactions that our accounting system would and would not allow as certain transactions had limitations. In one instance, we couldn’t have two accounts payable entries in the same journal entry so we had to move the independent contractor liability to a clearing account before moving it to accounts payable. Other journal entries would not let us have two different currencies in the same entry which forced us to use the clearing account again.

Due to the amount of work the team endured, my boss thought it was a good idea to hire another accountant in our office. During the month of September, he interviewed a number of candidates until he finally decided on a guy. In October, Lenny would relocate to our city and train the new guy. This was the plan, however things when awry when the new guy rejected the job offer one week before starting in October. The man could have quit for any number of reasons but I suspected that our company was trying to lowball him on the salary. Either way, Lenny arrived in the office in October and we had a fresh face in the office.

Interacting with Lenny was not what I was expecting. Over the phone and internet, he seem very professional like but in person, he was like a college frat boy. His favorite hobby back in Texas was getting drunk with his buddies in the bars and he would tell me about places that served $2 margaritas. Each day at work, he would check the criminal records in his hometown to see if anyone he knew got arrested for disorderly conduct involving alcohol. If he saw someone, he would spam the mugshots all over social media. He talked a lot about bitcoins and of stories of him drinking with his buddies in high school and college.

During October, we were getting our insurance and benefits situated. The health care reform act of 2013 took effect and companies/individuals had to comply with the mandate or get hit with penalties. Up until that point, I had a high deductible health insurance plan with a deductible of $10,000 annually. I was thoroughly satisfied with the plan as it only cost me $45 a month. However, since my company was going to pay 100% the cost of health insurance, I would eventually drop my plan. The reform act was an utter mess. It made insurance premiums a lot more expensive than they already were. Since companies were required to offer healthcare to full time employees, companies started moving their full time staff to part time to avoid complying with the regulations. Furthermore, the regulations were an extra barrier/deterrence from starting new companies. Our company held a meeting with the benefits specialists and we all sat together while the specialists explained our coverage. While looking at the documents, I was thinking about Julia. It had been several months since the last time we talked. I kind of wanted to just talk to her again one more time.

When I got home, I decided to call Ting and ask her for Julia’s phone number. When I got it, I saved it in my phone and made sure not to commit it to memory. I held the information in my phone for a few weeks before deciding to call her. I was in no rush. During November, I finally gave her a phone call and she didn’t recognize who I was at first. But after identifying myself, she seemed really happy to hear from me.   

It was only supposed to be a phone call that lasted a minute. I just wanted to talk to her and see that she was doing okay. However one question kept leading into another question and when I finally ended the call, I had been talking to her for 20 minutes. We also decided to meet at a restaurant in the following week. It wasn’t supposed to happen, I just wanted to ask her a few questions and then hang up.

The following week, I was in a foul mood after work. When I was talking to Julia, I felt myself filled with hatred and spite. I left work slightly earlier that day but I was in the mood to trash the office and quit. It was almost a year since I had last seen Julia and I almost regretted seeing her again. I had no game plan or end goal. Did she have a boyfriend now? If she didn’t, could we set something up together? I barely even wanted to talk to her and let the conversation go limp several times. When we did talk, I talked about how I hated my job so much and wanted to abandon it. I just wanted to buy a lifetime worth of food, live with my parents forever, and never do anything again. Back then, I had a vague idea of how I might be able to pull it off. There was a bank that offered certificates of deposits at an interest rate of a whopping 2.3%. Sure, it was low but certificates of deposits were FDIC insured so it was almost a risk free investment. If I could accumulate $100,000 and dump it all into a CD, I could earn a total of $2300 interest per year. During 2010 to 2013, my average annual expenses was about $8000 per year however most of that figure was due to auto insurance, maintenance, and gas. If I didn’t have to work, I could have easily kept my living expenses down to $2300 per year. If I needed more, I could just pick up a part time job while working no more than 20 hours a week. At that low income level, I would most likely qualify for a stupid health insurance subsidy from the federal government. Regardless, I was pissed off and I just wanted out of this situation.

Julia told me not to do this and that it was a horrible idea. I told her, I’d rather eat ramen noodles for the rest of my life if it meant I never had to work in accounting again.

I was reminded of the grass eating men in Japan. These are men that abandoned all aspirations of sex, relationships, marriage, homeownership, and hard work. Instead, they live with their parents and play video games all day while eating grass jelly. While society judges these men as losers, I have an admiration for them. Why should I bust my ass working 12 hours a day and multiple hours a week for an unfaithful wife, a house with ever increasing property taxes, children that I’ll have to neglect for work, a leased luxury car, and tons of worthless electronic crap. Screw all of it. On top of all of that, I’d be paying 20% to 40% of my gross earnings to fund the welfare state and wealth redistribution. I won’t be a slave for anyone for any longer then I have to. The grass eating men of Japan are sticking it to the Japanese federal government by not producing and not paying into the welfare system to support the baby boomer generation. As far as I’m concerned, those men are freaking geniuses.

Julia and I finished eating some pie but I really didn’t have anywhere to take this encounter. I spewed out my hatred and anger and I really couldn’t think about how to move anything forward. We just kind of left.

I wish I could say our story together ended her however I sent her a text just to make her laugh the following day.

The rest of November went smoothly until my boss came to me and told me the sales agent program was a mess. Unfortunately, I had no idea how to fix the problem or identify it in the first place. I went back and forth with Lenny and eventually he figured out what had to be done. We had close to 80 agents with an individual balance and about half of them wanted to do business in a foreign currency. I had to go into our internal IT system to see all the activity for our sales agents and make sure the balance matched up with our accounting system. For the last few months, I recorded all of the foreign sales agents transactions incorrectly but this was never caught by the accountant that reviewed every monthly closing.

Perhaps another one of the biggest lessons I learned about office jobs is that you don’t always get feedback if you do things incorrectly. And when things get done incorrectly, they can go on for quite some time. And when problems go on for quite some time, fixing them is a massive nightmare. One of the biggest headaches that I had was that I had to correct dozens of journal entries from several prior months. In order to fix the entries, I had to ask permission to open previously closed months in order to make adjustments. I had to do this dozens of times. Fixing all the mistakes took countless hours, several months, and a lot of heartache.

I spent sent several days working in the office until past 7 pm and occasional 8 pm. I would be lying in bed dreading going to work. During my commute, I occasionally considered driving into oncoming traffic. By the end of 2013, I had nearly accumulated $50,000 but I was convinced it wasn’t worth it anymore.

Things got really bad in January when I came under massive pressure from my boss. I had forgotten to set up the payment for salaries for the employees in our Europe office. Unfortunately, I was backed up into a corner. As much as I hated my job, I remembered the experience of going through 16 job interviews to get it. I still needed the money. I’d stay with the company until I accumulated $100,000 and then I’d depart. I’d have to endure the misery for at least another 2 years. However, I looked forward to making my departure. I’d dream about smashing the office to pieces on the way out. I’d smash the laptops, printers, phones, windows, and routers. I’d cut all the cords to the office to disrupt communications for at least 24 hours. If I didn’t want to cause physical damage, I could go into the accounting system and start destroying records and cause untold amounts of damage that way. I thought about my options.

At this point, I was finally serious about my plans. I gave up on thinking about homeownership. As miserable as life was at the time, I’d feel no qualms about living with my parents well into my 40s or 50s. I didn’t want to have a wife or children so why not? If it meant working under insane hours, insufferable management, and unclear orders, I’d rather just spend my time watching cartoons all day.

February arrived. Julia’s birthday was on the 10th. To do something special for her, I decided to take her out to a restaurant close by my office for sushi. Thankfully, she said yes. I took off of work after 5 pm and waited at the mall for an hour. I wasn’t waiting for Julia, I just wanted to get out of the office. We met up and made some small talk before we headed to the sushi restaurant. I gave her a gift that I thought was unique. I gave her a dime. It wasn’t an ordinary dime though. It was a Mercury dime from the year 1929. I purchased it at a coin store in December of 2013. I always wanted to have a silver dime or quarter but they are impossible to find in normal circulation. I paid $7 for it and it was in a very worn condition. Truth be told, it could have been a fake for all I knew. But, I had it and was happy. When Julia’s birthday was arriving, I figured it would be a unique gift to give. And she really liked it.

Afterwards, we were about to part ways. I gave her a hug and tried to kiss her on the cheek. Unfortunately, she let her hair grow out and her hair block her face. I tried to kiss her again but I had the same problem. As we left, I mentioned that we might be able to do something for Valentine’s Day but she mentioned she was busy. I backed my car out of the parking space and looked back at Julia. She looked back at me, smiled, and waved. This was the last time I ever saw Julia. This was the last time I ever heard Julia’s voice.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

How I committed economic suicide (part 4)

The next job duty my superiors gave me was to prepare payments. I got more training from Lenny. When looking at the prepaid vendors, we had formulas that would keep our vendors at above 7 days of usage. All I had to do was copy and paste a new formula into the report. For our post paid vendors, the process was much more complicated. There was a report in the accounting system that I could download to see all of the unpaid bills. The report included finalized bills and pending bills. I had to make sure to delete all the pending bills and pay every approved bill that came due within 8 days. After completing the report, I’d send it to Lenny so that he could set up the payments and then my boss would release the payments from our bank. In a few weeks, they would put me in charge of setting up the payments. This was one of the biggest responsibilities because if our vendors did not get paid on time, they would shut off our service and this would limit our ability to sell to the end customer. After the payments got released, Lenny emailed me a list of email address for all the vendors. It was my task to send an email to all of the vendors stating that we sent them a payment for the most recent invoice and we would ask for them to confirm the receipt of our payment.

For a while, the month of June went okay. I carried out my tasks as usual. It wasn’t until July when things started to fall to pieces. It was the beginning of the month and I knew that the month of June would have to be closed but no one asked me to perform any closing tasks. I enjoyed the fourth of July holiday and worked the next day to complete recording sales. After about July 6th, they asked me how closing was coming along and I was just walled. Immediately, I went back to my list of closing tasks and I couldn’t remember how to reconcile any of the merchant MID. I sat there paralyzed in anguish and pain not knowing how to get anything completed. I tried to get in contact with Lenny but he was unreachable. I asked my boss for some help to remember how to do the tasks but he was too busy. I looked at my reconciliations without any clue in the world.

At our weekly meeting, my boss said that we had just set the longest month end close. I was the reason for all of it. Barbara came to me asking to resolve differences in the electronic payments for June. With every request, I had to go to Lenny for advice and support because I was completely clueless. After lengthy retraining, I was finally able to complete my tasks but I had to get Lenny to explain everything to me again. I decided to take better notes this time around. It took us half of the month of July just to close the month of June. By this point in time, I was so nervous that I had screwed everything up that I was expecting to be fired at any moment.

They didn’t fire me, but they did let go one of the customer service representatives. Apparently, he didn’t meet the standards of the customer service manager and he failed his probation period. My boss wasn’t pleased with my performance and he told me to ask him questions if I ever got confused. Communication was always a weakness of mine. After all of closing was done, I went home just to lay in bed.

That Sunday, I was sitting in church just feeling the misery of existence. I couldn’t stop thinking about work and I even dreaded going back to work when I was resting on the weekends. While sitting down, I noticed Mei Ling walk by. As miserable as I was feeling, I thought I would feel better just sitting next to her so I got up from the pew and sat in the pew next to her. We carried out a conversation over lunch.

She was very attractive and I had adored her for several years. But she always had a boyfriend at some point in time or another so I never really payed her too much attention. All I really wanted to do was talk with her. It was very rare that we would ever have a conversation for more than two minutes but it went to the point where everyone else at the table had left. It was just the two of us for about a half hour.

When I got back to work, I proceeded to record sales. Something was odd about the electronic payments though. It looked like more currencies were being added to one of our accounts. Over a few days, I saw no activity but after a week, I started seeing sales come in. I asked my boss if we had started accepting foreign currencies for the account and he said yes. He said an email was sent out two weeks prior. Apparently, I had missed it. During the first few months, I couldn’t manage my emails because my inbox would get flooded with mail that mostly was not applicable to me. Since I was part of different email groups, I would see myself copied to messages of invoices being approved, internal reports being updated, confirmations from vendors, and a plethora of other mail that usually was not addressed to me. Because of this flood of information, it was very common for emails to sit in my inbox for weeks without me opening them.

I looked at the sales data and had to figure out what to do. The first thing that needed to be done was to record the sales revenue for all the days as sales receipts. Since this was a new customer, I had to figure out how to add a new customer to the accounting system and make sure it was set up with the correct currency and bank. However, since the electronic payment system let us hold balances in foreign currencies, I also had to set up new accounts in the accounting system as “banks” for the new electronic payment accounts. After messaging Lenny and Barbara, I got some instructions and directions on how to set up the customers and accounts. After that part was complete, I had to figure out how to record the transfers. Unlike the other account where Barbara made the transfers manually, this account transferred foreign currency into USD automatically. I had to spend more time looking into the electronic payment reports to find the transfers for each individual day and then record them as journal entries in the accounting system. Identifying the problem and then finding the solution took multiple days before completion.

Unfortunately, I would come to realize that several things would just go wrong and I would unexpectedly have to find a way to fix things. In most cases, I just wouldn’t have a clue how to get anything done or where to start. Often times, I felt like the only way I was getting through life was being dragged behind a car with a rope around my neck.

In July, my boss gave me two projects to work on. We wanted to focus on efficiency and cut down on the time spent recording sales into the accounting software. Our accounting software had a feature that allowed transactions to be directly imported instead of created manually. My boss also told me that I could use macros to manipulate data easier. How I decided to create and learn the process was all up to me though.

The second project he put me in charge of was to manage and maintain the independent contractor program. I had a meeting with my boss and several meetings with the European staff on how to “streamline” the process and grow the program. My boss never gave me clear directions or even objectives for what he wanted. In the beginning, we wanted to make the process easier for new contractors to sign up. At the time, a new contractor would have to sign an agreement, submit identification, and submit a tax form before he or she would start selling for us. After approval of all the documents, our IT staff would set up a website and the contractor would be good to go. This method required multiple points of verification. I would have to check the tax form, customer service would have to verify the identification, and I would have to download and file the agreement before the contractor could be finalized. My boss wanted to get it to the point where all of that could be done in a few mouse clicks.

During the meetings, I never really knew what I was supposed to be doing or asking. I was always following the lead of my boss. IT would be doing the work of updating websites and the marketing guys would be making decisions on their own. Every meeting was full of consternation, disagreements, and back and forth. I remember spending hours just trying to figure out how to get a image of the contract to store online. We debated who should be verifying identification and tax forms. My boss asked me to create a checklist for how to verify a W-8 or W-9. It seems like nothing could be done properly. In order to get through these meetings, I’d just nod and agree with whatever my boss said.

Personally, I had an amount of disdain for the program. This was the program that required me to record 50 journal entries and 30 invoices at the end of every month end. About 50% of the contractors that try to enter the program do not complete the application stage and never sell for us. What made things worse was the fact that most of our contractors barely sold anything. There would be several instances where we had a contractor that only sold about $20 to $30 a month and I’d have to record journal entries to record commission of $1.50 for the month for the contractor. Out of our 50 contractors, 70% of the total sales came from our top five contractors. Part of me wished that we could just keep the top five and get rid of everyone else. Of course, the other agents were being kept because corporate strategy believed that those contractors would gradually increase their sales over time.

During July, we hired two new customer service representatives. Considering the one new hire in June, we had a total of 4 employees doing customer service, one staff accountant, and one CFO. We also had a woman from Europe that was training the customer service representatives. The office was starting to fill up.

When the two new hires arrived, I was able to talk to both of them briefly. We even had a special lunch to welcome both of them to the company. A girl named Kim was hired and she had this nervous reaction to always laugh at everything that was said to her regardless if it was funny or not. The girl had some difficulty training and stated that she was used to getting extensive training before even taking phone calls. By Friday of the first week, she disappeared without telling anyone. This caused some confusion for everyone as Lauren was training her and had to ask everyone in the office if we saw Kim. She even scoured the outside of the building and the bathrooms just to find her. Later in the month, we lost another customer service representative and were down to two again. In later months, we would have problems finding and retaining customer service employees.

I’m not sure if the problems we had were specific to our company. We didn’t offer overtime hours and the agents were only given a total of two 15 minute breaks. There was no allotted time for lunch so I think this really bothered our employees. Training was also an issue as most of the sessions were done over the phone and instructions were coming in from overseas. But in general, customer service agents tend to start out at around $10 to $12 an hour and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of room or opportunities to advance in the career. One of the officers at our company first started out as a customer service agent however advancing that far in a career is rare. The furthest that most people would expect to advance would be customer service coordinator or supervisor. Even then, the pay increase that comes with the extra work is not very large.

While I listened to their conversations, I couldn’t help but to sympathize. I remembered having to do customer service, deal with angry customers, carry our unclear directions/orders, and be constantly interrupted while trying to get any work done.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

How I committed economic suicide (part 3)

Eventually, Lenny got back to me and took a look at the previous reports. What had happened was that I forgot to delete the voided transactions before I recorded the sales. This threw off the exchange rate and the total sales amount so I had to look back at the data for the previous three days and correct the invoices affected. It was a Tuesday and I had my weekly meeting with my boss. He said it was okay if I made some mistakes while learning, however he kept on throwing more stuff at me to do and complete. During my first two weeks at the company, I came to the conclusion that completing all the necessary work for a week would be impossible to do within 40 hours. I’d have to say an extra hour or two a day and take a 10 minute lunch break just to have a chance to complete everything. Effectively, I’d be working 45 to 50 hours every week but I wouldn’t get any extra compensation because I was on salary. I was stuck and trapped. It was either this or be unemployed.

Having a weekly meeting with my boss was a new experience. None of my previous jobs had such engagement and feedback. Unfortunately, these meetings would be when my boss would chew me out for screwing something up, doing something wrong, or not doing something that he expected me to do but never told me to do. The weekly meeting was usually a low point of the week for me.

In addition to a one on one weekly meeting, we also had a weekly meeting for Finance to discuss new developments, concerns, and vacation time for the staff. I usually felt like these meetings were a waste of time however I did like to have a reason to take a break from my work flow. Usually, most of the points of the meeting did not affect me or my daily tasks so I would zone out for a while until the meeting was over.

During the rest of that week, I was giving the task of learning how to cover Barbara’s work so that she could take a vacation. At the time, Barbara was in charge of two different tasks that had to be done on a daily basis. The first was to update our telecom vendor balances and the second task was to update the bank account balances and make sure it matches to our accounting software.

Our company is a retail company and buys phone service from large carriers wholesale. We then break up the service and sell it to the end customer for a profit. This is the entire business model. Our telecom team searches for carriers that will give us the best offers and as a result, we do business with more than 15 telecom carriers. To get the phone service (our inventory), we either pay our vendors in advance or on a set schedule. On a daily basis, our IT department sends us a report of how much service was used for each vendor and we use that information to update our balances for each telecom carrier. We do this so that we know when to pay our vendors and how much time we have before we have to make a payment. It is very important for these values to be updated daily because there could be an instance where our balance is running low for a vendor or if we are about to exceed our credit limit with our vendor.

The process was simple. Every vendor we updated had a bill entered into the accounting system and I would add a new row to the bill to indicate the usage of the previous day. I then took the updated balance and plugged it into a report to see if we were close to needing to make a payment. The second task was far more complicated.

The second task was to update the banks. To do this, I had to log into the accounting system and go to the banking feature. The banking feature was connected to the banks we used and it allowed us to download daily reports from our banks. After downloading several reports, the transactions would be listed and I’d have to match them with the invoices that were entered into the accounting system. The tricky thing about the process is that multiple deposits came in per day and none of them were labeled. In order to identify a deposit with an invoice, I had to enter in the exchange rate onto the deposit to convert the USD amount to the foreign currency and then I could match it with a foreign invoice. If an invoice was not matched to any deposit, it was a clear indication that something might have been wrong with the invoice. The amount might be off or the exchange rate may have been entered incorrectly. With over 30 deposits to match per day, it was a little difficult to remember all how all the deposits would be applied to the invoices. A particular annoying case is that a certain credit card likes to act different from the rest of the credit cards that we accept. This type of credit card would settle into our bank account two days after the rest of the cards so this was something I had to take into consideration. However, I remember the most difficult part of updating the bank accounts was after payments were made. Payments made by wire transfer would be debited from our bank account individually but ACH payments were all lumped into one sum. In that case, I would have to identify all the vendors that were paid then mark all the vendors invoices as paid in the accounting system. In order to know if I did the update properly, I would check to see if the balance in our bank accounts matched the balance in the accounting system.

Of course, the first time I tried to update the banks, I had my issues. I always had to double check to see that I put the correct date and exchange rate on each payment application. There were also a number of transactions that I didn’t know how to match and there were a few times when I forgot how to classify an entry. I always dreaded when Barbara would take a vacation because updating the banks took me at least 3 hours to complete.

In a weekly meeting, my boss mentioned to me that Lenny would start showing me how to perform the month end closing activities. The boss mentioned that closing was usually a long and tiring process and I should expect to be working about 50 hours a week during the month end closing. I was very overwhelmed by this but at least Memorial Day was coming up. I would have a three day weekend at the end of May.

I enjoyed my three day weekend only to arrive at work on Tuesday to the horror of realizing that I had to record four days of sales. It felt like I could never get a break. Even if I had a holiday or a day off, the work still needed to get done one way or another. I came to the conclusion that I’d have to work on the weekends just to have any hope of getting everything done. At some point in the day, my boss took pity on me and said that I could split the workload between two days and this helped me out. I was still recording sales for the entire day though.

When June rolled around, Lenny sent me an email and started to train me on the month end closing activities. Unfortunately, our phones were horrible and I could only pick up half of what he was saying to begin with. We had to continue to communicate through instant messages online.

Since this was my first closing, Lenny would be walking me through it the whole way and demonstrating everything. The first thing he asked me to do was download all of the reports for the credit card processor and upload them to the company shared drive. I would use these statements to reconcile the customer MIDs with the invoices recorded to the accounting software. The biggest challenge I had here was that the documents could not be downloaded as spreadsheets so the text had to be copied and pasted into a spreadsheet. Furthermore, the spreadsheet had to be manipulated to get all the text in the proper columns and the dates aligned to even use the data to begin with. Unfortunately, Lenny and I were using two different softwares for spreadsheets so some of his instructions did not work when I tried to do them. We spent at least 15 or 20 minutes trying to resolve formatting errors in my spreadsheet. After the errors were resolved, I could proceed to follow his instructions. In the accounting software, I could download a report of all the invoices for a specific customer MID and then I would compare it with the statement I downloaded earlier. In a new spreadsheet, I placed the statement settlements on the left side and the accounting software date on the right side and I matched each day up to make sure there were no differences. Lenny only showed me how to reconcile the easiest MID for the sake of time. The MID had only USD settlements and only one batch per day.

The second thing on my list was to record depreciation entries. Since our business was 100% online retail, the only equipment we had to depreciate were the laptops in our offices and a few switches that we had in two datacenters. The method used was straight line depreciation so I would update the dates from the previous document, copy and paste the prior balances as the current balances, and then update the formulas for each field. After the spreadsheet was done, I’d enter the journal entries for depreciation expense into the accounting system.

The third item on my list was to record two reclassification entries. In order to save time recording sales, we had all of the sales revenue recorded directly to one general product on a daily basis. At the end of the month, we would run our internal reports to see a breakdown of the products we actually sold and then we would reclassify the total sales to the individual product. The same process had to be done with our exchange gain or loss for the month. After the spreadsheets were finished for both journal entries, I’d record both entries into our accounting system.

The last part of the closing process was to record all the offline sales and commission transactions for our independent contractors. Right off the bat, Lenny told me he hated this process. He sent me a template to use for recording these entries. I logged into our internal system to look for the reports and I saw a list of about 100 independent contractors. Immediately, Lenny told me that only half of the contractors were active however I would have to run the report individually for each contractor. After the report was run, I’d have to copy and paste the information into the template on my spreadsheet and then record the journal entry into the accounting system. If the template showed any offline sales, I would also have to record an invoice for the contractor and apply a payment to the invoice. The process was long and cumbersome but we didn’t know a more efficient way of doing things. It took two to three hours to record 50 journal entries and 30 invoices for all of the contractors.

After all the transactions were completed, it felt like my mind was turned into mush. I still had to update two reports regarding transaction fees and the overall breakdown of sales so I just listened to Lenny’s instructions as best as I could. After the first week of June, the month end closing was completed and I just wanted to forget about the misery endured.

I looked out the window of the office to see a brown building in the distance. I wondered if it was the building that Julia worked in. I realized that my office was close to the major mall that she worked next to.

In June, I tried taking my laptop home a few times on the weekend in order to stay on top of my work load. If I got done recording sales over the weekend, I wouldn’t have to endure recording three days of sales every Monday. I felt resentful for having to work 6 hours on the weekend but I was willing to put up with it just to keep making money. Sometime during June, I had finally saved up $40000.


Sunday, April 9, 2017

How I committed economic suicide (part 2)

When the setup was more or less complete, I finally got the chance to get trained on my job activities. They told me that I would be in charge of recording sales and Lenny would be training me over the phone. After struggling trying to use the phone, he gave me instructions over email as well. The first thing I’d record was sales information from electronic payments. Lenny showed me where to find the sales data for our company. I had to find the data and then record the sales, refunds, and fees into sales receipts in the accounting system. The process took about 30 minutes to do because we had sales in 7 different currencies and each report had to be pulled up individually. On a daily basis, all the sales from the foreign currencies would be converted into US dollars and transferred to the US balance. I had to calculate the exchange rate for each of the transfers and record them into the accounting system. After recording the sales and transfers into the software, Lenny showed me where to find the information for chargebacks. Again, I had to pull up 7 different reports individually and record any information as journal entries into the software. This took an additional 20 minutes.

I finished entering the transactions and Lenny reviewed my work. When he saw that everything was acceptable, he proceeded to show me how to record sales from the second electronic payment account. We had a program where we would hire independent contractors to sell our products on our behalf. This would increase our sales and in turn, the contractions would earn a commission for everything they sold. Luckily, all of the agents only handled US currency. I logged into the company account and downloaded a report of all the transactions that occurred on the previous day. I was given a separate spreadsheet to identify all the contractors and I entered their sales receipts into the accounting system. Thankfully, I didn’t have to bother recording any transfers. After the second account was completed, Lenny showed me how to record the last account.

The last account for electronic payment was dedicated to our mobile recharge product. It was the easiest as there was only one currency to record sales data. I recorded the entry into the accounting system and completed the sales training for the day. Lenny explained to me that sales come in daily and have to be recorded on a daily basis. He hated Mondays in particular because he had to record three days worth of transactions for that day. Later on in the week, he would show me how to record the sales data from credit card transactions.

After my training with Lenny was completed, my boss came over to my desk and dropped a stack of documents down. It was full of invoices, bank statements, and other notices. All of the documents had to be scanned and emailed to the correct departments. He spent 20 minutes with me giving me email addresses and instructions on where to send the documents. He also asked me to come up with some sort of filing system to store all the paperwork. After completing several tasks, it was past 5pm so I left the office and started driving home.

Traffic going home was the most insufferable thing I experienced. My office was located right next to a highway off ramp which was right next to a major mall which was surrounded by several office buildings. During a one or two mile stretch, there were at least 8 traffic lights and traffic cops directing traffic. It took 45 minutes just to get to the interstate. After getting on the interstate, I experienced massive sand stills for another 30 minutes. I then realized that life would become incredibly miserable from here on out. After the commute was finished, I had spent close to two hours in traffic and it was almost 7 pm at night. Once again, this reinforced my decision to never get married or have children.

The next day at work, I had another training scheduled with Lenny. I logged into our company portal to pull out the reports needed to record credit card transactions. The first thing I had to do was filter the data and delete all the voided transactions. After than, I had to filter the spreadsheet by each merchant ID number and do separate filters to sort each currency out. I had to get the total native currency and total converted amount in order to calculate the exchange rate. After I had all that information, I’d enter it into the accounting system as invoices. We had two MID with multiple currencies and each one of those had at least four foreign currencies. This meant I did the sorting, conversions, and entries at least 8 times for foreign currencies. Including the invoices based in US dollars, these two MID required 12 invoices daily.

Two extra MID had me matching up different batch numbers and amounts to record another 6 invoices. Lastly, our independent contractor program had me record another 12 invoices into the accounting system. On a daily basis, I had to record about 30 invoices into the accounting system just to have all the credit card transactions finished. This process took me close to two hours in the beginning. The next thing he showed me how to do was record chargebacks for the credit card processor.

It wasn’t too difficult but I was confused the first few times because I didn’t really know how to perform vlookup very well. I downloaded the reports from the portal and compared the report with a chargeback report that we had in our internal systems. A vlookup would identify each transaction as the correct product and I would then record the entries in the accounting software. The first few times, I did this, I messed up the software and had to try again. By the time the first week had ended, I was feeling just dead tired.

At the end of Friday, I agreed to meet Allison and some of her friends for dinner. Already, I was in a foul mood from work that day, traffic was a nightmare, and I just wanted to go home. When I got to the restaurant, I ordered a dish which I couldn’t eat by mistake. It was covered with shrimp. I was irritated, I didn’t want to talk to any of Allison's friends, and I just sat there dwelling about how I screwed up my order. She asked me how I was doing and I told them I was miserable and couldn’t stand my job. They all kind of saw my irritation. After eating dinner, they were going to go somewhere else for dessert to which I just bailed and went home. After this point, I would just blow her off and not go out of my way for her.

I got home and finally got to enjoy myself a little bit. The weekend came and went in what felt like five minutes and I was back to work on Monday morning. Since it was Monday, I had to record three days worth of sales in the accounting software. Considering the fact that fully recording the chargebacks and sales for just one day would take three hours, I had nine hours of work to do just to record everything. Unfortunately, I could not just record one set of sales receipts and invoices. The deposits came in the bank on an individual daily basis so I had to also record the invoices individually or else the bank balance would not match with the accounting software balance. I had no other option but to just slog on through it. Despite all of this, my boss kept on throwing random unimportant tasks at me.

While I was trying to get all my work done, my boss asked me to order things for the office such as a mp3 player, speakers, office plants, and a coffee maker. I got a request to take care of customer service appreciation week which meant buying various food for customer service. He asked me to take care of ordering supplies and getting rid of supplies that we didn’t need. I even remember that he asked me for assistance in getting the access door to our office installed and figuring out how to work the card key system. I kept on thinking to myself how could the boss know how busy I was and why was he worried about unimportant stuff like mp3 players and office plants.

Eventually I completed recording all of the sales but it was getting close to six pm by the time I finished. The next day, I showed up to work and started recording the sales. Only about 45 minutes into the day, I get a message from the senior accountant telling me that the bank deposits were not matching up with the invoices I recorded the previous day. She asked me to review the invoices and figure out what was causing the difference. I had absolutely no idea what to do and had to ask her what the problem might have been. This is where stress and panic started to set in. I couldn’t proceed to complete my work until I corrected the previous three days of work. Barbara told me that there might have been an error when I calculated the exchange rate so I looked back to check the previous reports and calculations. The exchange rates were calculated correctly. Still puzzled, I had to ask Lenny what the problem might have been. However, it took me at least 15 minutes to get a hold of Lenny considering he was in Texas and working on his own tasks. I thought about asking my boss but he was on a phone call that could take 20 minutes to complete. I sat there frozen unable to do anything or have any idea how to resolve the issue.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

How I committed economic suicide (part 1)

It was the middle of May when I started work again after 7 months of being unemployed. As soon as I arrived at the building, I was hit with a sense of deja vu. It was the same building I visited for an interview back in 2012. I took the elevator up to the sixth floor and walked to the suite only to find an empty room with the lights turned off. Maybe I was a little bit early. Feeling nervous, I walked outside and sat down at a table. Back in college, there was an unwritten understanding that class was canceled if the professor was more than 15 minutes late for class. I had no idea what to do if you went to work and no one showed up though. Luckily, I had the number for customer service for the company and I called them. When they asked me what I needed, I just told them that I was hired as an accountant and had arrived at the office but no one was there yet. The customer service representative was able to get in touch with the operations manager and they said that someone would be in the office shortly. Feeling assured, I walked back inside the building and up towards the sixth floor to see that the lights were on and the boss opened the door for me. It was the first time I saw him since the interview and I said it was good to see him again. He showed me to my desk and I saw one woman on the opposite side of the room which I assumed to be another accountant.

The CFO gave me my login credentials to my laptop and said I could take a look at the accounting software as well as the other programs. We were still waiting on one more employee to show up so I was idling there without an assignment to work on. The room was very empty. The walls were bare and there were only two tables and some chairs. Immediately, I got the impression that I was interviewed in a hotel because the company did not yet have the office space yet. After a little while, the CFO gave us a brief introduction to the company. Fifteen minutes later, the third guy finally showed up. He was breathing hard and in a mess. Apparently, he was late due to his car breaking down or the buses running late. After he arrived, the four of us went to lunch.
As it turned out, I was the only accountant there. The man and the woman that started with me were both customer service representatives. Most of our company’s operations were located in South America and Europe. Our senior staff accountant was located in Bolivia and the other accountant was stationed in Texas. Lenny would start training me on how to do my job in a few days however we would have a much more important task to do first which was assembling furniture.

During the first week, we didn’t get actual work done. We had to spend the week getting ready to get work done and part of that entailed assembling chairs and tables. Immediately, I felt a little resentful. I didn’t recall furniture assembly in my job description when I started but there was probably a section that said ad hoc activities. Later, I would come to learn that the term “AD HOC” was a latin term for stuff the boss doesn’t want to do. Well, I couldn’t complain. I had been unemployed for the past 7 months. I was also very understanding considering that the United States operation was very small. There were only four of us and that was probably not enough to justify hiring an operations manager. During the first week of work, the four of us assembled multiple tables, chairs, and drawers. We spend a good amount of time hooking ethernet cables into wall jacks, modems, and phones. We spent even more time wrapping the cables and cords around the tables and walls to make everything look neat. I did so without complaining however part of me kind of wondered what kind of company wouldn’t have this stuff sorted out before the employees started working? We were making room for extra capacity. By the Summer or Fall, our company was trying to hire two extra customer service representatives, one IT guy, one senior accountant, and maybe two people for marketing positions. After setting our office up, we started to run into some technical difficulties.

During the first week, I was working with my boss to set up my phone properly. The phone I was using was a VOIP phone so I had to call tech support in Bolivia just to get the phone activated and the number set up. But repeated problems caused us to be going back and forth with Boliva for over 45 minutes. Even after finally getting the VOIP phone set up, everyone in the office was struggling with the call quality of the phones. Whenever we used the phones, the call was cut in and out every few seconds making communication completely impossible. During our first two weeks, I was barely able to get any effective training with Lenny and the customer service representatives were barely able to communicate with customers. The only solution we had was to get rid of the wireless modems the phones were connected to and plug an ethernet cable directly into the VOIP phone. This solved the problem for the most part, however our phones were affected if our internet connection cut out.

Unfortunately, internet issues were frequent during our first few months of operations. This would be particularly frustrating for customer service as sometimes the conversation would just be lost on their end. In my case, it was annoying and disruptive when I was entering invoices into the accounting system and my system would freeze up after every entry and mouse click. Losing an internet connection was always nerve wracking because we never would know how long it would take to reconnect. It could be a few minutes or as long as an hour.